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[G.R. No. 165153. September 23, 2008.

CARLOS C. DE CASTRO, petitioner, vs. LIBERTY BROADCASTING NETWORK, INC. and EDGARDO
QUIOGUE, respondents.

Appeals; As a rule, the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts and can review a Rule 45 petition only on
questions of law but when there are substantial conflicts in the factual findings of the Court of Appeals and the trial
court or government agency concerned, the Court wades into questions of facts. As a rule, and as recently held in
Rudy A. Palecpec, Jr. v. Hon. Corazon C. Davis, et al. 17 (a 2007 case), this Court is not a trier of facts and can
review a Rule 45 petition only on questions of law. We wade, however, into questions of facts when there are
substantial conflicts in the factual findings of the CA, on the one hand, and the trial court or government agency
concerned, on the other. This is precisely the situation that we have before us since the NLRC and the CA have
diametrically opposed factual findings leading to differing conclusions. Hence, we are left with no option but to
undertake a review of the facts in this Rule 45 case.We find the petition meritorious. To our mind, the CA erred in
the appreciation of the evidence surrounding petitioner's termination from employment. The cited grounds are at
best doubtful under the proven surrounding circumstances, and should have been interpreted in the petitioner's
favor pursuant to Article 4 of the Labor Code.

Labor Law; Illegal Dismissals; If doubts exists between, the evidence presented by the employer and the
employee, the scales of justice must be tilted in favor of the latter it is a time honored rule in controversies
between a laborer and his master, doubts reasonably arising from the evidence, or in the interpretation of
agreements and writing should be resolved in the formers favor. We join the NLRC in concluding that the
employer failed to prove a just cause for the termination of the petitioner's employment a burden the company,
as employer, carries under the Labor Code and the CA erred when it saw grave abuse of discretion in the NLRC's
ruling. The evidentiary situation, at the very least, brings to the fore the dictum we stated in Prangan v. NLRC
(1998) and in Nicario v. NLRC (1998) that "if doubts exist between the evidence presented by the employer and the
employee, the scales of justice must be tilted in favor of the latter. It is a time-honored rule in controversies
between a laborer and his master, doubts reasonably arising from the evidence, or in the interpretation of
agreements and writing should be resolved in the former's favor."

[A.M. No. P-03-1715. September 19, 2008.]

(formerly IPI No. 00-908-P)

FELISA L. GONZALES, complainant, vs. Clerk of Court JOSEPH N. ESCALONA and Sheriff IV EDGAR V. SUPERADA,
respondents.

Courts; Court Personnel; Clerks of Court; Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. No. 3019); Clerks of
Court, in particular, must be individuals of competence, honesty, and probity, charges as they are with
safeguarding the integrity of the court and its proceedings; Guilt for violation of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019, as
amended, is beyond of the Investigating Judges authority to determine and should be read merely as her view on
what criminal offense the respondents may have violated if they were to be criminally prosecuted. The evidence
on record and the admissions made by both respondents in their comments filed with this Court and with the
investigating court sufficiently establish their culpability. Guilt, however, for violation of Republic Act (R.A.) No.
3019, as amended, is beyond the Investigating Judge's authority to determine and should be read merely as her
view on what criminal offense the respondents may have violated if they were to be criminally prosecuted. Those
connected with the dispensation of justice bear a heavy burden in the performance of their duties. Their positions
demand a very high level of moral rectitude and uprightness. Clerks of Court, in particular, must be individuals of
competence, honesty, and probity, charged as they are with safeguarding the integrity of the court and its
proceedings. For that matter, the behavior of everyone connected with an office charged with the dispensation of
justice from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk must always be beyond reproach. Like Caesar's wife,
they must not only be faithful to the responsibilities of their position and the propriety and decorum these entail;
they must, above all, be above suspicion.

Same; Same; Same; Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officers and Employees (R.A. No.
6713); The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officers and Employees sets out a policy towards
promoting a high standard of ethical responsibility in the public service. Our laws are not lacking in providing
guidance and mandates on the responsibilities of a public position and the burdens they impose on the office
holder. Section 1 of Article XI of the 1987 Constitution declares that a public office is a public trust. It enjoins public
officers and employees to serve with the highest degree of responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency and, at all
times, remain accountable to the people. The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officers and
Employees sets out a policy towards promoting a high standard of ethical responsibility in the public service. It
enjoins those in the government service to extend prompt, courteous, and adequate service to the public, and at
all times, to respect the rights of others and refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals and good
customs, among other ideals.

Same; Same; Same; Same; To be sure, to pay checks whose proceeds are intended for a specific recipient,
to someone other than the intended recipient is far from unusual, and is an arrangement that has to be explained if
the arrangement is claimed to be legitimate. Our examination of the records of the case tells us that there was
connivance between the respondents on the manner of collecting and disbursing the amounts awarded to the
accident victims so that they (the respondents) could personally benefit from the proceeds of the court's award.
That their actions were concerted is plain from the manner they undertook the exactions; one took care of and
complemented the other towards the same result a share in the complainant's pie. Although both respondents
denied that they instructed or proposed to the complainant or the paying employer that the 24 postdated checks
be made payable to respondent Escalona, we stand unconvinced that that the respondents had no active hand in
the arrangement. For one, why the checks were made payable to Escalona was not sufficiently explained. To be
sure, to pay checks whose proceeds are intended for a specific recipient, to someone other than the intended
recipient is far from usual, and is an arrangement that has to be explained if the arrangement is claimed to be
legitimate. No explanation from the respondents, however, came. We are simply asked to believe, perhaps on
faith, that the arrangement simply came without the respondents' active intervention. We cannot accept what
amounts to a plain denial given the patent irregularities that attended the arrangement.

Same; Same; Sheriffs; Grave Misconduct; Why a court sheriff would participate in the apprehension of the
accused escapes the Court; Charging any amount to litigants for his services without the approval of the court
constitutes grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. Respondent Superada
admits having received the amount of P7,000.00, but explained that the P7,000.00 was agreed upon by the
complainant and the other victims of the vehicular accident to defray the expenses for the apprehension of the
accused. Why Superada, a court sheriff, would participate in the apprehension of the accused escapes us. Likewise,
the excuse, even if legitimate, will not completely exculpate him as he is mandated to act within defined limits in
the performance of his duties as sheriff, particularly on the matter of expenses. For him, good faith is not a
defense as he is charged with the knowledge of what his proper conduct should be. As an officer of the court
involved in the implementation of court decisions, he is bound to observe the Rules of Court faithfully, not use
them for his personal ends; sheriffs must perform their duties by the book. Charging any amount to litigants for his
services without the approval of the court constitutes grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best
interest of the service.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Words and Phrases; Misconduct and Gross, Defined. A misconduct is the
violation of an established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction from duty, an unlawful
behavior, willful in character, improper and wrong; while "gross" has been defined as "out of all measure; beyond
allowance; flagrant; shameful." In short, it is a level of conduct that is not to be excused.

Same; Same; Administrative Proceedings; Resignation; The Court views a respondent Clerk of Courts
resignation before the investigation as indication of his guilt, in the same way that flight by an accused in a criminal
case is indicative of guilt his resignation will not be a way out of the administrative liability he incurred while in
active service. Respondent Escalona had already resigned from the service. His resignation, however, does not
render this case moot, nor does it free him from liability. In fact, the Court views respondent Escalona's resignation
before the investigation as indication of his guilt, in the same way that flight by an accused in a criminal case is
indicative of guilt. In short, his resignation will not be a way out of the administrative liability he incurred while in
the active service. While we can no longer dismiss him, we can still impose a penalty sufficiently commensurate
with the offense he committed.

Same; Same; Same; The death of the respondent in an administrative case does not preclude a finding of
administrative liability; Exceptions. We treat respondent Superada no differently. While his death intervened
after the completion of the investigation, it has been settled that the Court is not ousted of its jurisdiction over an
administrative matter by the mere fact that the respondent public official ceases to hold office during the
pendency of the respondent's case; jurisdiction once acquired, continues to exist until the final resolution of the
case. In Layao, Jr. v. Caube, we held that the death of the respondent in an administrative case does not preclude a
finding of administrative liability: This jurisdiction that was ours at the time of the filing of the administrative
complainant was not lost by the mere fact that the respondent public official had ceased in office during the
pendency of his case. The Court retains its jurisdiction either to pronounce the respondent public official innocent
of the charges or declared him guilty thereof. A contrary rule would be fraught with injustice and pregnant with
dreadful and dangerous implications . . . If innocent, respondent public official merits vindication of his name and
integrity as he leaves the government which he has served well and faithfully; if guilty, he deserves to receive the
corresponding censure and a penalty proper and imposable under the situation.The above rule is not without
exceptions, as we explained in the case of Limliman v. Judge Ulat-Marrero, where we said that death of the
respondent necessitates the dismissal of the administrative case upon a consideration of any of the following
factors: first, the observance of respondent's right to due process; second, the presence of exceptional
circumstances in the case on the grounds of equitable and humanitarian reasons; and third, it may also depend on
the kind of penalty imposed. None of these exceptional considerations are present in the case.

Same; Same; Same; Whether a cause of action survives the death of the person depends in the substance
of the cause of action and not on the form of the proceeding to enforce it; Administrative proceedings are, by their
very nature, not strictly personal so that the proceedings can proceed beyond the employees death, subject to
exceptional considerations. From another perspective, administrative liability is separate and distinct from
criminal and civil liability which are governed by a different set of rules. In Flecther v. Grinnel Bros., et al., the
United States District Court of Michigan held that whether a cause of action survives the death of the person
depends on the substance of the cause of action and not on the form of the proceeding to enforce it. Thus, unlike
in a criminal case where the death of the accused extinguishes his liability arising thereon under Article 89 of the
Revised Penal Code, or otherwise relieves him of both criminal and civil liability (arising from the offense) if death
occurs before final judgment, the dismissal of an administrative case is not automatically terminated upon the
respondent's death. The reason is one of law and public interest; a public office is a public trust that needs to be
protected and safeguarded at all cost and even beyond the death of the public officer who has tarnished its
integrity. Accordingly, we rule that the administrative proceedings is, by its very nature, not strictly personal so
that the proceedings can proceed beyond the employee's death, subject to the exceptional considerations we have
mentioned above. This, conclusion is bolstered up by Sexton v. Casida, where the respondent, who in the
meantime died, was found guilty of act unbecoming a public official and acts prejudicial to the best interest of the
service, and fined Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00), deductible from his terminal leave pay.

[G.R. No. 172871. September 16, 2008.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. CLEMENTE CASTA y CAROLINO, accused-appellant.

Appeals; Evidence; Witnesses; An established rule in appellate review is that the trail courts factual
findings including its assessment of the credibility of the witnesses and the probative weight of their testimonies, as
well as the conclusions drawn from the factual findings, are accorded respect, if not conclusive effect. An
established rule in appellate review is that the trial court's factual findings, including its assessment of the
credibility of the witnesses and the probative weight of their testimonies, as well as the conclusions drawn from
the factual findings, are accorded respect, if not conclusive effect. These actual findings and conclusions assume
greater weight if they are affirmed by the CA. Despite the enhanced persuasive effect of the initial RTC factual
ruling and the results of the CA's appellate factual review, we nevertheless fully scrutinized the records of this case
as the penalty of reclusion perpetua that the lower courts imposed on the accused demands no less than this kind
of scrutiny.

Criminal Law; Murder; Justifying Circumstances; Self-defense; Requisites; When the accused admits the
killing and, by way of justification, pleads self-defense, the burden of evidence that he indeed acted in self-defense.
As a rule, the prosecution bears the burden of establishing the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
However, when the accused admits the killing and, by way of justification, pleads self-defense, the burden of
evidence shifts; he must then show by clear and convincing evidence that he indeed acted in self-defense. For that
purpose, he must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not on the weakness of the prosecution's case.

Article 11 (1) of the Revised Penal Code spells out the elements that the accused must establish by clear and
convincing evidence to successfully plead self-defense. The Article provides:

Art. 11.Justifying Circumstances. The following do not incur any criminal liability:

1.Anyone who acts in defense of his person or rights, provided that the following circumstances concur:

First. Unlawful aggression;

Second. Reasonable necessity of the means to prevent or repel it;

Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.

xxx xxx xxx

There is unlawful aggression when the peril to one's life, limb or right is either actual or imminent. There must be
actual physical force or actual use of a weapon. It is a statutory and doctrinal requirement to establish self-defense
that unlawful aggression must be present. It is a condition sine qua non; there can be no self-defense, complete or
incomplete, unless the victim commits unlawful aggression against the person defending himself.

Same; Same; Same; Same; There can be no self-defense, complete or incomplete, unless the victim
commits unlawful aggression against the person defending himself. There is unlawful aggression when the peril to
one's life, limb or right is either actual or imminent. There must be actual physical force or actual use of a weapon.
It is a statutory and doctrinal requirement to establish self-defense that unlawful aggression must be present. It is
a condition sine qua non; there can be no self-defense, complete or incomplete, unless the victim commits
unlawful aggression against the person defending himself.

Same; Same; Witnesses; The established rule, laid down in an already long line of cases, is that, in the
absence of the evidence showing any reason or motive for the prosecution witnesses to falsely testify, their
testimony can be given full faith and credit. We find no reason to disbelieve these straightforward narration of
the events surrounding the stabbing that led to Danilo's death. Nor do we see anything on the record showing any
improper motive that would lead the witnesses to testify as they did. In fact, the appellant never imputed any such
motive on Marlyn and Modesto. The established rule, laid down in an already long line of cases, is that in the
absence of evidence showing any reason or motive for the prosecution witnesses to falsely testify, their testimony
can be given full faith and credit. Thus, no actual or imminent threat to the appellant's life or limb existed when he
stabbed Danilo to death.

Same; Same; Aggravating Circumstances; Treachery; Requisites; The essence of qualifying circumstance is
the suddenness, surprise and the lack of expectation that the attack will take place, thus depriving the victim of any
real opportunity for self-defense while ensuring the commission of the crime without risk to the aggressor.
Treachery, the qualifying circumstance alleged against the appellant, exists when an offender commits any of the
crimes against persons, employing means, methods or forms which tend directly or especially to ensure its
execution, without risk to the offender, arising from the defense that the offended party might make. This
definition sets out what must be shown by evidence to conclude that treachery existed, namely: (1) the
employment of such means of execution as would give the person attacked no opportunity for self-defense or
retaliation; and (2) the deliberate and conscious adoption of the means of execution. To reiterate, the essence of
qualifying circumstance is the suddenness, surprise and the lack of expectation that the attack will take place, thus
depriving the victim of any real opportunity for self-defense while ensuring the commission of the crime without
risk to the aggressor.

Same; Same; Mitigating Circumstances; Voluntary Surrender; Requisites; To be sufficient, the surrender
must be spontaneous and made in a manner clearly indicating the intent of the accused to surrender
unconditionally, either because he acknowledges his guilt or wishes to save the authorities the trouble and expense
attendant to the efforts of searching for and capturing him. Voluntary surrender, properly undertaken, is a
mitigating circumstance that lowers the imposable penalty. It is present when the following elements concur: a)
the offender has not been actually arrested; b) the offender surrenders himself to a person in authority or to the
latter's agent; and c) the surrender is voluntary. To be sufficient, the surrender must be spontaneous and made in
a manner clearly indicating the intent of the accused to surrender unconditionally, either because he
acknowledges his guilt or wishes to save the authorities the trouble and expense attendant to the efforts of
searching for and capturing him.

Same; Same; Same; Same; For voluntary surrender to mitigate an offense, it is not required that the
accused surrender at the first opportunity. That the appellant surrendered only in the morning of August 21, 1989
(or a day after the stabbing incident) does not diminish nor affect the voluntariness of his surrender. For voluntary
surrender to mitigate an offense, it is not required that the accused surrender at the first opportunity. Here, the
appellant went voluntarily went with SPO1 Camba to the police station within a day after the killing to own up to
the killing. Thus, the police did not devote time and effort to the investigation of the killing and to the search and
capture of the assailant.

Same; Statutes; Ex Post Facto Laws; Word and Phrases; An ex post facto law, among, others, is one that
changes the penalty and inflicts a greater punishment that what the law annexed to the crime when committed.
The Information in this case indicates that the crime of murder was committed by the appellant on August 20,
1989 which was before the effectivity of Republic Act No. 7659 on December 31, 1993 amending Article 248 of the
Revised Penal Code on murder, raising the penalty to reclusion perpetua to death. Prior to its amendment the
penalty for the crime of murder under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code was reclusion temporal in its
maximum period to death. In light of the greater penalty that attaches under the amendment, the previous
penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period to death will have to be imposed in order not to run afoul of
the constitutional prohibition against ex post facto laws. Under Section 22 of Article III of the 1987 Constitution,
no ex post facto law or bill of attainder shall be enacted. An ex post facto law, among others, is one that changes
the penalty and inflicts a greater punishment than what the law annexed to the crime when committed the
situation that would obtain if the amendment under Republic Act No. 7659 would be applied.

Same; Same; Damages; Where the amount of the actual damages cannot be determined because of the
absence of supporting and duly presented receipts but evidence confirming the heirs entitlement to actual
damages, temperate damages in the amount of P25,000.00 may be awarded. The RTC awarded the amount of
P13,000.00 to the victim's heirs as actual damages in light of established jurisprudence that allows only expenses
duly supported by receipts as proof of actual damages. This RTC ruling has however been overtaken by our rulings
in the landmark cases of People v. Abrazaldo (2003) and People v. Villanueva (2003). In Abrazaldo, we ruled that
where the amount of the actual damages cannot be determined because of the absence of supporting and duly
presented receipts but evidence confirming the heirs' entitlement to actual damages, temperate damages in the
amount of P25,000.00 may be awarded. This ruling was reiterated, with slight modification in Villanueva, where
we held that when the actual damages proven by receipts during the trial amount to less than P25,000.00, we can
nevertheless award temperate damages of P25,000.00. Thus, the heirs' entitlement is P25,000.00 of temperate
damages.

Same; Same; Same; Moral Damages; Moral damages are mandatory in case of murder and homicide without need
of allegation and proof other than the death of the victim. We also modify the award of P100,000.00 as moral and
exemplary damages which the RTC lumped together. Moral damages are mandatory in cases of murder and
homicide without need of allegation and proof other than the death of the victim. We find the award of
P50,000.00 as moral damages in order in accordance with established jurisprudence.

Damages; Loss of Earning Capacity; As a rule, documentary evidence should be presented to substantiate a claim
for damages for loss of earning capacity. We cannot award loss of earning capacity to the victim's heirs since no
documentary evidence was presented to substantiate this claim. As a rule, documentary evidence should be
presented to substantiate a claim for damages for loss of earning capacity. While there are exceptions to the rule,
these exceptions do not apply as the victim, Danilo, was an employee of the Office of the Register of Deeds of
Lingayen, Pangasinan when he died; he was not a worker earning less than the minimum wage under the
prevailing labor laws.
[G.R. Nos. 183806-08. September 16, 2008.]

MAYOR ABRAHAM N. TOLENTINO, petitioner, vs. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, JOCELYN RICARDO, ARNEL
TARUC, MARLENE D. CATAN, MARIA THERESA MENDOZA COSTA, FIDELA ROFOLS CASTILLO, DOMINADOR BASSI,
ROBERTO MALABANAN, NERISSA MANZANO, LEONIDEZ MAGLABE HERNANDEZ, TAGUMPAY REYES, ELINA
FAJARDO, and MARIA CORAZON MARQUIACAS, respondents.

Election Law; Election Protests; Certiorari; Grave Abuse of Discretion; Words and Phrases; Grave abuse of
discretion means such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction
the abuse of discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual
refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law or to act at all in contemplation of law, or where the power is exercised in
an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of personal hostility. As the present petition is for a writ of certiorari
under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court, our review of the petition and the assailed orders is limited to the
determination of whether they were issued with lack or excess of jurisdiction or were tainted with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. In the present case, petitioner Tolentino imputes grave
abuse of discretion to the COMELEC's issuance of the assailed orders. Grave abuse of discretion means such
capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion
must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty
enjoined by law or to act at all in contemplation of law, or where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and
despotic manner by reason of personal hostility.

Same; Same; Same; Mandamus; A party in an election protest has no clear specific legal right to have the
election documents subject of the protest reproduced and authenticated prior to transmittal to the COMELEC main
office, and if there were such a right, imposing upon the COMELEC the correlative duty to respect the right, the
proper remedy is a petition for mandamus, not certiorari. To be sure, the petitioner has no clear specific legal
right to have the election documents subject of the protest reproduced and authenticated prior to transmittal to
the COMELEC main office. Petitioner Tolentino in fact did not cite any specific provision of any election law, or
election rules for that matter, establishing the right he now claims to have been unduly restricted by the
COMELEC. If in fact a right to the photocopying and verification processes exists, this right immediately imposes
upon the COMELEC the correlative duty, a ministerial one in fact, to respect the right. In such a case, the proper
remedy is a petition for mandamus, and not certiorari, under Rule 65.

Same; Same; Same; In the instant case, the photocopying and authentication processes that the Election
Supervisor granted are at best mere accommodations, made in the exercise of his discretion, but which both the
law and the election rules do not specifically provide. The COMELEC's order that the relevant materials be brought
to Manila is grounded on express legal authority. On the other hand, the photocopying and authentication
processes that Atty. Ravanzo, the Election Supervisor, granted are at best mere accommodations, made in
the exercise of his discretion, but which both the law and the election rules do not specifically provide. To
reiterate, what the law demands is immediate action on the transmittal of pertinent election documents for
revision and/or recount, not the delay that has attended this case. To be exact, the election took place 15 months
ago and the protest was filed soon after, while the COMELEC's order to transmit the material documents for
purposes of revision was dated September 7, 2007 or almost a year ago counted from the date of this Resolution.
Given the local effective officials' three-year term, the one-year delay that has attended the election protest is
impermissible and one that the COMELEC has the obligation to address through its assailed orders; this is a delay
that this Court is likewise mandated not to allow.
[G.R. No. 165012. September 16, 2008.]

RACHEL BEATRIZ RUIVIVAR, petitioner, vs. OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN and DR. CONNIE BERNARDO,
respondents.

Ombusdman; Pleadings and Practices; Appeals, Certiorari; The remedy from an Ombudsmans decision in
administrative cases imposing only the penalties of public censure, reprimand, or suspension of not more than
thirty (30) days, or affine equivalent to one month salary, which decisions are final and unappealable, is a special
civil action of certiorari under Rule 65, not a petition for review under Rule 43. In Lapid v. CA (2000), we explained
that an appeal under Rule 43 to the CA only applies to administrative cases where the right to appeal is granted
under Section 27 of R.A. No. 6770. In Lopez v. CA (2002) and Herrera v. Bohol (2004), we recognized that no appeal
is allowed in administrative cases where the penalty of public censure, reprimand, suspension of not more than
one month, or a fine equivalent to one month salary, is imposed. We pointed out that decisions of administrative
agencies that are declared by law to be final and unappealable are still subject to judicial review if they fail the test
of arbitrariness or upon proof of gross abuse of discretion; the complainant's legal recourse is to file a petition for
certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, applied as rules suppletory to the Rules of Procedure of the Office of
the Ombudsman. The use of this recourse should take into account the last paragraph of Section 4, Rule 65 of the
Rules of Court i.e., the petition shall be filed in and be cognizable only by the CA if it involves the acts or
omissions of a quasi-judicial agency, unless otherwise provided by law or by the Rules. In the present case, the
Ombudsman's decision and order imposing the penalty of reprimand on the petitioner are final and unappealable.
Thus, the petitioner availed of the correct remedy when she filed a petition for certiorari before the CA to question
the Ombudsman's decision to reprimand her.

Administrative Law; Due Process Doctrine of Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies; Although they are
separate and distinct concepts, exhaustion or administrative remedies and due process embody linked and related
principles the exhaustion principle applies when the ruling of the court or tribunal is not given the opportunity to
re-examine its findings and conclusions because of an available opportunity that a party seeking recourse against
the court or the tribunals ruling omitted to take, while under the concept of due process, a violation occurs when
a court or tribunal rules against a party without giving him or her the opportunity to be heard; The commonality
exhaustion of administrative remedies and die process share is in the same opportunity that underlies both. For
a fuller appreciation of our above conclusion, we clarify that although they are separate and distinct concepts,
exhaustion of administrative remedies and due process embody linked and related principles. The "exhaustion"
principle applies when the ruling court or tribunal is not given the opportunity to re-examine its findings and
conclusions because of an available opportunity that a party seeking recourse against the court or the tribunal's
ruling omitted to take. Under the concept of "due process", on the other hand, a violation occurs when a court or
tribunal rules against a party without giving him or her the opportunity to be heard. Thus, the exhaustion principle
is based on the perspective of the ruling court or tribunal, while due process is considered from the point of view
of the litigating party against whom a ruling was made. The commonality they share is in the same "opportunity"
that underlies both. In the context of the present case, the available opportunity to consider and appreciate the
petitioner's counter-statement of facts was denied the Ombudsman; hence, the petitioner is barred from seeking
recourse at the CA because the ground she would invoke was not considered at all at the Ombudsman level. At the
same time, the petitioner who had the same opportunity to rebut the belatedly-furnished affidavits of the
private respondent's witnesses was not denied and cannot now claim denial of due process because she did not
take advantage of the opportunity opened to her at the Ombudsman level.

Same; Same; The law can no longer help one who had been given ample opportunity to be heard but who
did not take full advantage of the proffered chance. We cannot help but recognize that the petitioner's cause is a
lost one, not only for her failure to exhaust her available administrative remedy, but also on due process grounds.
The law can no longer help one who had been given ample opportunity to be heard but who did not take full
advantage of the proffered chance.

[G.R. No. 176159. September 11, 2008.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. LEE RODRIGO, JOHN DOE @ BUNSO, and PETER DOE @ LYN-
LYN, accused.

LEE RODRIGO, accused-appellant.

Constitutional Law; Right to Be Presumed Innocent; The judicial determination of his guilt or innocence
necessarily starts with the recognition of his constitutional right to be presumed innocent of the charge he faces.
While an accused stands before the court burdened by a previous preliminary investigation finding that there is
probable cause to believe that he committed the crime charged, the judicial determination of his guilt or innocence
necessarily starts with the recognition of his constitutional right to be presumed innocent of the charge he faces.
This principle, a right of the accused, is enshrined no less in our Constitution. It embodies as well a duty on the part
of the court to ascertain that no person is made to answer for a crime unless his guilt is proven beyond reasonable
doubt. Its primary consequence in our criminal justice system is the basic rule that the prosecution carries the
burden of overcoming the presumption through proof of guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, a
criminal case rises or falls on the strength of the prosecution's case, not on the weakness of the defense. Once the
prosecution overcomes the presumption of innocence by proving the elements of the crime and the identity of the
accused as perpetrator beyond reasonable doubt, the burden of evidence then shifts to the defense which shall
then test the strength of the prosecution's case either by showing that no crime was in fact committed or that the
accused could not have committed or did not commit the imputed crime, or at the very least, by casting doubt on
the guilt of the accused. We point all these out as they are the principles and dynamics that shall guide and
structure the review of this case.

Evidence; Identification of the Accused; The greatest care should be taken in considering the identification
of the accused especially, when this identification is made by a sole witness and the judgement in the case totally
depends on the reliability of the identification. The greatest care should be taken in considering the identification
of the accused especially, when this identification is made by a sole witness and the judgment in the case totally
depends on the reliability of the identification. This level of care and circumspection applies with greater vigor
when, as in the present case, the issue goes beyond pure credibility into constitutional dimensions arising from the
due process rights of the accused.

Same; Same; Jurisprudence has acknowledged that out-of-court identification if an accused through
photographs or mug shots is one of the established procedures in pinning down criminals. The aspect of this case
that remains unexplored, despite the availability of supporting evidence, is Rosita's out-of-court identification of
Rodrigo, done for the first time through a lone photograph shown to her at the police station, and subsequently,
by personal confrontation at the same police station at an undisclosed time (presumably, soon after Rodrigo's
arrest). Jurisprudence has acknowledged that out-of-court identification of an accused through photographs or
mug shots is one of the established procedures in pinning down criminals. Other procedures for out-of-court
identifications may be conducted through show-ups where the suspect alone is brought face to face with the
witness (a procedure that appears to have been done in the present case as admitted by Rosita and noted in the
decision), or through line-ups where a witness identifies the suspect from a group of persons lined up for the
purpose.

Same; Same; Evidence of identification is effectively created when none really exists. The initial
photographic identification in this case carries serious constitutional law implications in terms of the possible
violation of the due process rights of the accused as it may deny him his rights to a fair trial to the extent that his
in-court identification proceeded from and was influenced by impermissible suggestions in the earlier
photographic identification. In the context of this case, the investigators might not have been fair to Rodrigo if they
themselves, purposely or unwittingly, fixed in the mind of Rosita, or at least actively prepared her mind to, the
thought that Rodrigo was one of the robbers. Effectively, this act is no different from coercing a witness in
identifying an accused, varying only with respect to the means used. Either way, the police investigators are the
real actors in the identification of the accused; evidence of identification is effectively created when none really
exists.

Same; Same; We recognized that the harmful effects on the rights of the accused of these types if
identification can go as far as and contaminate in-court identification. We confirmed the existence of this danger
in People v. Teehankee where the Court tackled the reliability of out-of-court identifications as an issue; we
recognized that the harmful effects on the rights of the accused of these types of identification can go as far as and
contaminate in-court identification. Speaking through Mr. Justice (now Chief Justice) Reynato Puno, the Court said:

It is understandable for appellant to assail his out-of-court identification by the prosecution witnesses in his first
assignment of error. Eyewitness identification carries vital evidence and, in most cases, decisive of the success or
failure of the prosecution. Yet, while eyewitness identification is significant, it is not as accurate and authoritative
as the scientific forms of identification evidence such as the fingerprint or DNA testing. Some authors even
describe eyewitness evidence as "inherently suspect". The causes of misidentification are known, thus: HSaIDc

xxx xxx xxx

Identification testimony has at least three components. First, witnessing a crime, whether as a victim or a
bystander, involves perception of an event actually occurring. Second, the witness must memorize details of the
event. Third, the witness must be able to recall and communicate accurately. Dangers of unreliability in eyewitness
testimony arise at each of these three stages, for whenever people attempt to acquire, retain, and retrieve
information accurately, they are limited to normal human fallibilities and suggestive influences.

Same; Same; In resolving the admissibility of and relying on out-of-court identification of suspects, courts
have adopted the totality of circumstances test where they consider the following factors, viz.: (1) the witness
opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime; (2) the witness degree of attention at the time; (3) the
accuracy of any prior description given by the witness; (4) the level of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the
identification; (5) the length of time between the crime and the identification; and (6) the suggestiveness of the
identification procedure. In resolving the admissibility of and relying on out-of-court identification of suspects,
courts have adopted the totality of circumstances test where they consider the following factors, viz.: (1) the
witness' opportunity to view the criminal at the time of the crime; (2) the witness' degree of attention at the time;
(3) the accuracy of any prior description given by the witness; (4) the level of certainty demonstrated by the
witness at the identification; (5) the length of time between the crime and the identification; and (6) the
suggestiveness of the identification procedure.

Same; Same; Rosita provided no other description of Rodrigo or of the other two, whether in her
Sinumpaang Salaysay or in court. Lack of any prior description. Other than giving Rodrigo's name in her
Sinumpaang Salaysay and confirming that dito ko nalang [sic] nalaman ang tunay na pangalan sa himpilan ng
pulisya ng ipakita sa akin ang kanyang retrato na siya and nakita kung [sic] unang Bumaril sa aking asawa at
kumuha ng pera na kita ng aming Restaurant Rosita provided no other description of Rodrigo or of the other
two, whether in her Sinumpaang Salaysay or in court. The original records of the case in fact contain no record of
statements secured from witnesses immediately after the crime was committed on October 27, 2000. Thus, there
is no basis to compare Rosita's or any other witnesses' immediate recollection of what transpired at the crime
scene and the description of the perpetrators, with Rosita's photographic identification and her in-court
identification at the trial. This is a glaring gap in the police investigation and one that leaves Rosita's identification
unsupported, given the absence of corroborative evidence from other witnesses.

Same; Same; Whether the event and its details etched themselves in Rositas memory or whether
everything happened in a blur is hard to say with definite certainty and should be gauged through Rositas
consistency in testifying on the other aspects of the case. Opportunity to view the criminals and degree of focus
at the time. Rosita's first encounter with the robbers people she did not know before happened very briefly
during a very horrifying experience when her husband was shot and killed. Whether the event and its details
etched themselves in Rosita's memory or whether everything happened in a blur is hard to say with definite
certainty and should be gauged through Rosita's consistency in testifying on other aspects of the case.

Same; Same; Note that by providing only a lone photograph , complete with a name identified as the
suspect, the police did not even give Rosita the option to identify Rodrigo from among several photographed
suspects. this identification came a month after the crime a long month when the police appeared to have
achieved no headway in their investigation (although Rodrigo himself admitted that he heard from a policeman-
neighbor that he was "implicated" in the crime two days after its commission). By her own account, Rosita only
learned the names of the robbers from information given by one Chito Alicante who never appeared as a witness
in the case. The photographic identification was made at the police station by showing her the lone photograph of
Rodrigo who was expressly noted in the Sinumpaang Salaysay as a "suspect". Thus, Rosita, who did not know the
robbers, initially fixed them in her mind through their names that Chito Alicante supplied, and subsequently, linked
the name Lee Rodrigo to the faces she saw in the photograph the police presented as the suspect. Note that by
providing only a lone photograph, complete with a name identified as the suspect, the police did not even give
Rosita the option to identify Rodrigo from among several photographed suspects; the police simply confronted her
with the photograph of Rodrigo as the suspect.

Same; Same; The testimonies form the aggrieved parties should not simplistically equated to or treated as
testimonies from detached parties. The testimonies from aggrieved parties should not simplistically be equated to
or treated as testimonies from detached parties. Their testimonies should be handled with the realistic thought
that they come from parties with material and emotional ties to the subject of the litigation so that they cannot be
accepted and held as credible simply because the defense has not adduced evidence of ill-motivation. It is in this
light that we have examined Rosita's identification of Rodrigo, and we hold as unpersuasive the lower courts'
conclusion that Rosita deserved belief because the defense had not adduced any evidence that she had motives to
falsely testify. The better rule, to our mind, is that the testimony of Rosita, as an aggrieved party, must stand on its
independent merits, not on any failure of the defense to adduce evidence of ill-motivation.

Same; Same; Rositas photographic identification was attended by an impermissible suggestion that
tainted her in-court identification of Rodrigo as one of the three robbers. We hold it highly likely, based on the
above considerations, that Rosita's photographic identification was attended by an impermissible suggestion that
tainted her in-court identification of Rodrigo as one of the three robbers. We rule too that based on the other
indicators of unreliability we discussed above, Rosita's identification cannot be considered as proof beyond
reasonable doubt of the identity of Rodrigo as one of the perpetrators of the crime. A first significant point to us is
that Rosita did not identify a person whom she had known or seen in the past. The robbers were total strangers
whom she saw very briefly. It is unfortunate that there is no direct evidence of how long the actual robbery and
the accompanying homicide lasted. But the crime, as described, could not have taken long, certainly not more than
a quarter of an hour at its longest. This time element alone raises the question of whether Rosita had sufficiently
focused on Rodrigo to remember him, and whether there could have been a reliable independent recall of
Rodrigo's identity.

Same; Alibi; While the defenses of denial and alibi are inherently weak, they are only so in the face of an
effective identification. While the defenses of denial and alibi are inherently weak, they are only so in the face of
an effective identification. Where, as in the present case, the identification has been fatally tainted by irregularity
and attendant inconsistencies, doubt on the culpability of the accused, at the very least, has been established
without need to avail of the defenses of denial and alibi. In constitutional law and criminal procedure terms, the
prosecution never overcame the presumption of innocence that the accused enjoyed so that the burden of
evidence never shifted to the defense. Thus, any consideration of the merits of these defenses is rendered moot
and will serve no useful purpose.

[G.R. No. 152325. August 28, 2008.]

MONICCA B. EGOY, petitioner, vs. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, THE BUSINESS STAR
CORPORATION, and GABRIEL MAALAC, respondents.

Labor Law; Civil Procedure; Courts only respond to the facts presented and the issues framed by the parties
and consider these in light of our procedural and substantive laws. Under these circumstances, we cannot fault
the appellate court for its ruling. Courts only respond to the facts presented and the issues framed by the parties
and consider these in light of our procedural and substantive laws. It is a matter of record that the petitioner never
raised in her petition for certiorari before the CA any objection relating to the consideration of incidents other than
her absence on AWOL, intent to falsify and breach of trust. She did not object to the discussion of these other
incidents and, on the contrary, met them squarely. It is likewise a matter of record, as already adverted to above,
that the appellate court directly ruled on the NSC bidding issue because it was an issue that the petitioner raised. If
it cited incidents beyond the grounds stated in the Notice of Termination, it appears to us that these were
incidents related to the breach of trust mentioned in the notice of termination; they have been cited, not as
grounds for termination per se, but as related circumstances that support the termination of the petitioner's
employment for breach of trust.

[G.R. No. 177151. August 22, 2008.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ARIEL JACOB y ZUEGA, accused-appellant.

Criminal Law; Rape; Elements; Witnesses; Central in the determination of guilt for the crime of rape is the
credibility of the complainants testimony. for the charge of rape to prosper, the prosecution must prove that (1)
the offender had carnal knowledge of a woman, and (2) he accomplished such act through force or intimidation,
or when she was deprived of reason or otherwise unconscious, or when she was under 12 years of age or was
demented. Central in the determination of guilt for the crime of rape is the credibility of the complainant's
testimony. Rape is a crime largely committed in private where no witness other than the victim is available. For
this reason, jurisprudence has recognized that the accused may be convicted solely on the testimony of the victim,
provided the testimony is credible, natural, convincing and consistent with human nature and the normal course of
things.

Same; Same; Alibis and Denials; Alibi is an inherently weak defense that is viewed with suspicion because it
is easy to fabricate; Alibi and Denial must be supported by strong corroborative evidence in order to merit
credibility. The appellant's defense of alibi i.e., that he was on board a fishing vessel going to Lucena City on
the date of the rape incident comes with all the inherent weaknesses that jurisprudence has identified with this
defense. It is an inherently weak defense that is viewed with suspicion because it is easy to fabricate. There is
likewise the settled rule that a categorical and positive identification of an accused by an eyewitness who is not
shown to have any ill-motive, prevails over alibi and denial. In sum, alibi and denial must be supported by strong
corroborative evidence in order to merit credibility.

Same; Same; The conditions of the womans hymen is not conclusive on the question of whether the rape
has or has not been committed as the mere introduction of the male organ in to the labia majora of the pudendum
is sufficient to consummate rape. The appellant also insists that no carnal knowledge took place because AAA's
hymen is still intact, as the results of Dr. Mazo's genital examination showed. The condition of the woman's
hymen, however, is not conclusive on the question of whether rape has or has not been committed as the mere
introduction of the male organ into the labia majora of the pudendum is sufficient to consummate rape.

Same; Same; Not a few offenders in rape cases attribute the charges against them to family feuds,
resentment or revenge. An apparently desperation move by the appellant was his attempt to impute ill motive on
the part of the victim by claiming that AAA's testimony could have been instigated by her parents. We cannot give
weight to this bare assertion in the absence of sufficient corroborative evidence. We note, too, that not a few
offenders in rape cases attribute the charges against them to family feuds, resentment or revenge. These alleged
motives, however, cannot prevail over the positive and credible testimonies of complainants who remain steadfast
throughout the trial. Moreover, it is unnatural for a parent to use his or her offspring as an instrument of malice,
since the ensuing case may subject a daughter to embarrassment and even to the mark of disgrace that a rape
victim may undeservedly carry.

Same; Same; When a woman states that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to
show that rape is committed. Time and again, we have consistently held that when a woman states that she has
been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape was committed. For no woman, least of all a
child, would weave a tale of sexual assault on her person, would open herself to examination of her private parts,
and would risk a public trial and possible ridicule if she had not, in truth, been raped. That she came out in the
open to complain clearly signals that she wanted to seek justice for the wrong done to her.

Same; Same; Damages; Moral Damages; Moral damages are awarded to the rape victims without need of
proof other than the fact of rape under the assumption that the victim suffered moral injuries from the experience
she underwent. The award of civil indemnity to the rape victim is mandatory upon the finding of the fact of rape.
Thus, this Court affirms the award of P50,000.00 as civil indemnity based on prevailing jurisprudence. Moral
damages are awarded to rape victims without need of proof other than the fact of rape under the assumption that
the victim suffered moral injuries from the experience she underwent. This award is separate and distinct from the
awarded civil indemnity. In light of current jurisprudence that pegs the award at P50,000.00, we increase the lower
court's award of P30,000.00 to P50,000.00.
[G.R. No. 159130. August 22, 2008.]

ATTY. GEORGE S. BRIONES, petitioner, vs. LILIA J. HENSON-CRUZ, RUBY J. HENSON, and ANTONIO J. HENSON,
respondents.

Remedial Law; Actions; Appeals; By the express terms of the Rules, the ruling on the extent of the Special
Administrators commission effectively , a claim by the special administrator against the estate is the lower
courts last word on the matter and one that is appealable. From an estate proceeding perspective, the Special
Administrator's commission is no less a claim against the estate than a claim that third parties may make. Section
8, Rule 86 of the Rules recognizes this when it provides for "Claim of Executor or Administrator Against an Estate".
Under Section 13 of the same Rule, the action of the court on a claim against the estate "is appealable as in
ordinary cases". Hence, by the express terms of the Rules, the ruling on the extent of the Special Administrator's
commission effectively, a claim by the special administrator against the estate is the lower court's last
word on the matter and one that is appealable.

Same; Same; Forum Shopping; Requisites of Forum Shopping; The test to determine whether a party has
violated the rule against forum shopping is where the elements of litis pendencia are present or where a final
judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in the other. Forum shopping is the act of a litigant who
"repetitively availed of several judicial remedies in different courts, simultaneously or successively, all substantially
founded on the same transactions and the same essential facts and circumstances, and all raising substantially the
same issues either pending in or already resolved adversely by some other court to increase his chances of
obtaining a favorable decision if not in one court, then in another." It is directly addressed and prohibited under
Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, and is signaled by the presence of the following requisites:
(1) identity of parties, or at least such parties who represent the same interests in both actions, (2) identity of the
rights asserted and the relief prayed for, the relief being founded on the same facts, and (3) identity of the two
preceding particulars such that any judgment rendered in the pending case, regardless of which party is successful,
would amount to res judicata in the other. In simpler terms, the test to determine whether a party has violated the
rule against forum shopping is where the elements of litis pendentia are present or where a final judgment in one
case will amount to res judicata in the other.

Same; Same; Same; Appellate court not required to resolve every contention and issue raised by a party if
it believes it is not necessary to do so to decide the case. Given our above discussion and conclusions, we do not
see forum shopping as an issue that would have made a difference in the appellate court's ruling. Nor is it an issue
that the appellate court should, by law, have fully ruled upon on the merits. We agree with the respondent that
the appellate court is not required "to resolve every contention and issue raised by a party if it believes it is not
necessary to do so to decide the case."

[G.R. No. 172449. August 20, 2008.]

LAZARO MADARA, ALFREDO D. ROA III, and JOAQUIN T. VENUS, petitioners, vs. HON. NORMA C. PERELLO,
Presiding Judge of Branch 276, Regional Trial Court, Muntinlupa City, FELIX M. FALCOTELO, Sheriff-in-Charge
Muntinlupa City, PHILIPPINE AMUSEMENT and GAMING CORPORATION, and PROVIDENT INTERNATIONAL
RESOURCES CORPORATION, represented by EDWARD T. MARCELO, CONSTANCIO D. FRANCISCO, ANNA
MELINDA MARCELO-REVILLA, LYDIA J. CHUANICO, DANIEL T. PASCUAL, LINDA J. MARCELO, JOHN J. MARCELO,
CELIA C. CABURNAY, CELEDONIO P. ESCANO, JR., and the REGISTER OF DEEDS of Muntinlupa City, respondents.
Actions; Forum Shopping; Pleadings and Practice; Words and Phrases; Forum shopping is the institution of
two or more actions or proceedings involving the same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously
or successively, on the expectation that one or the other court would render a favorable disposition it is the losing
partys attempt, other than by appeal or by the special civil action of certiorari, to seek favorable judgment in
another forum; To determine whether a party violated the rule against forum shopping, the most important factor
to ask is whether the elements of litis pendentia are present, or whether a final judgment in one case will amount
to res judicata in another. Forum shopping is the institution of two or more actions or proceedings involving the
same parties for the same cause of action, either simultaneously or successively, on the expectation that one or the
other court would render a favorable disposition. It is the losing party's attempt, other than by appeal or by the
special civil action of certiorari, to seek a favorable judgment in another forum. By its nature, it is a reprehensible
practice that manipulates the court system and abuses its processes; it degrades the administration of justice; and
it wastes valuable court resources that can otherwise be used in other priority areas in the dispensation of justice.
It is particularly pernicious when it introduces the possibility because the losing party is asking different courts
to rule on the same or related causes and to grant the same or substantially the same reliefs of conflicting
decisions being rendered by different fora on the same issues. To determine whether a party violated the rule
against forum shopping, the most important factor to ask is whether the elements of litis pendentia are present, or
a final judgment in one case will amount to res judicata in another. Otherwise stated, the test is whether the two
(or more) pending cases have identity of parties, of rights or causes of action, and of the reliefs sought. Willful and
deliberate violation of the rule against it is a ground for summary dismissal of the case; it may also constitute
direct contempt."

Same; Same; Same; Certiorari; Motions for Reconsideration; There is a clear case of forum shopping
where, at the time a petition for certiorari was filed with the Court of Appeals, the trial court had yet to resolve a
pending motion for reconsideration of the same order subject of the petition for certiorari. We agree with the
Court of Appeals that the petitioners indulged in a clear case of forum shopping before it. One of the assailed
orders in CA-GR SP No. 90821 was the RTC's 1 July 2005 Order. At the time the petition was filed with the appellate
court, the RTC had yet to resolve the motion for reconsideration of the 1 July 2005 Order. This is a clear case of
forum shopping, as the petitioners sought, at the same time, two separate remedies with two different judicial
venues (the RTC and the Court of Appeals), to obtain one and the same relief the nullification of the RTC
decision in Civil Case Nos. 02-228 and 02-238 and its non-enforcement against the individual petitioners.

Same; Same; Same; Same; While a special civil action of certiorari is an exception to the rule on forum
shopping, the same is true only where such petition is properly or regularly invoked in the usual course the
exception does not apply when the relief sought , through a petition for certiorari, is still pending with or has yet to
be decided by the respondent court, tribunal or body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial body. We so conclude
despite the fact that what the petitioners filed was a petition for certiorari, a recourse that in the usual course
and because of its nature and purpose is not covered by the rule on forum shopping. The exception from the
forum shopping rule, however, is true only where a petition for certiorari is properly or regularly invoked in the
usual course; the exception does not apply when the relief sought, through a petition for certiorari, is still pending
with or has as yet to be decided by the respondent court, tribunal or body exercising judicial or quasi-judicial body,
e.g., a motion for reconsideration of the order assailed via a petition for certiorari under Rule 65, as in the present
case. This conclusion is supported and strengthened by Section 1, Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court which
provides that the availability of a remedy in the ordinary course of law precludes the filing of a petition for
certiorari; under this rule, the petition's dismissal is the necessary consequence if recourse to Rule 65 is
prematurely taken.
[A.M. No. MTJ-08-1712. August 20, 2008.]

(Formerly OCA IPI NO. 08-2020-MTJ)

CONRADO Y. LADIGNON, complainant, vs. JUDGE RIXON M. GARONG, Municipal Trial Court (MTC), San
Leonardo, Nueva Ecija, respondent.

Courts; Judicial Ethics; Judges; Code of Judicial Conduct; Impropriety; Members of the Judiciary should be
beyond reproach and suspicion in their conduct, and should be free from any appearance of impropriety in the
discharge of their official duties as well as in their personal behavior and everday life; No position exacts a greater
demand for moral righteousness and uprightness on the individual than a seat in the Judiciary. We agree with the
Report that what is involved here is the rule that "Judges shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of
impropriety in all of their activities". Indeed, members of the Judiciary should be beyond reproach and suspicion in
their conduct, and should be free from any appearance of impropriety in the discharge of their official duties as
well as in their personal behavior and everyday life. No position exacts a greater demand for moral righteousness
and uprightness on the individual than a seat in the Judiciary. Where we significantly differ with the Report is in its
sweeping implication that any use of a court's letterhead for non-official transactions would necessarily expose the
user to liability for "impropriety" or giving the "appearance of impropriety".

Same; Same; Same; Same; Court Stationery; Members of the Judiciary may use a social card with the
letterhead of their office to indicate their address as well as their station in the judicial hierarchy; A judges personal
use of his courts letterhead and his designation as a Judge in a potential dispute could give the appearance that
there is an implied or assured consent of the court to his cause. The Judge's claim that he used an ordinary bond
papers and placed thereon his official station as return address is not totally without merit. For, indeed, this is not
an unusual practice and it would be hypocritical to deny its occurrence at all levels of the Judiciary. For example,
some members of the Judiciary may use a social card with the letterhead of their office to indicate their address as
well as their station within the judicial hierarchy; some also use notepads bearing their names, designation and
station. A thin line, however, exists between what is proper and what is improper in such use, and this was the line
that the respondent Judge crossed when he used his letterhead and title the way he did. As the Report stated, his
use of the letterhead and his designation as a Judge in a situation of potential dispute gave "the appearance that
there is an implied or assured consent of the court to his cause". This circumstance, to our mind, was what marked
the respondent Judge's use of his letterhead and title as improper. In other words, the respondent Judge's
transgression was not per se in the use of the letterhead, but in not being very careful and discerning in
considering the circumstances surrounding the use of his letterhead and his title.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; In the present case, the respondent Judge crossed the line of propriety
when he used his letterhead to report a complaint involving an alleged violation of church rules and, possibly, of
Philippine laws coming from a judge with letter addressed to a foreign reader, such report could indeed have
conveyed the impression of official recognition or notice of the reported violation. We do not depart from this rule
on the use of official stationary. We clarify, however, that the use of a letterhead should not be considered
independently of the surrounding circumstances of the use the underlying reason that marks the use with the
element of "impropriety" or "appearance of impropriety". In the present case, the respondent Judge crossed the
line of propriety when he used his letterhead to report a complaint involving an alleged violation of church rules
and, possibly, of Philippine laws. Coming from a judge with the letter addressed to a foreign reader, such report
could indeed have conveyed the impression of official recognition or notice of the reported violation.

Same; Same; Same; While the title of Judge or Justice can be used for social and other identification
purposes, it cannot be used with the intent to use the prestige of his judicial office to gainfully advance his personal,
family, or other pecuniary interests. The same problem that the use of letterhead poses, occurs in the use of the
title of "Judge" or "Justice" in the correspondence of a member of the Judiciary. While the use of the title is an
official designation as well as an honor that an incumbent has earned, a line still has to be drawn based on the
circumstances of the use of the appellation. While the title can be used for social and other identification
purposes, it cannot be used with the intent to use the prestige of his judicial office to gainfully advance his
personal, family or other pecuniary interests. Nor can the prestige of a judicial office be used or lent to advance
the private interests of others, or to convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special
position to influence the judge. To do any of these is to cross into the prohibited field of impropriety.

Same; Same; Same; One who occupies an exalted position in the administration of justice must pay a high
price for the honor bestowed upon him his private as well as his official conduct must at all times be free from the
appearance of impropriety. Time and again, this Court has reminded the members of the Judiciary that one who
occupies an exalted position in the administration of justice must pay a high price for the honor bestowed upon
him; his private as well as his official conduct must at all times be free from the appearance of impropriety.
Because appearance is as important as reality in the performance of judicial functions, a judge like Ceasar's wife
must not only be pure and faithful but must be above suspicion. The respondent Judge, even if he did not
intend to take undue advantage of the use of his letterhead and his title, at least gave the appearance of
impropriety when he did so under the circumstances of his use. To this extent, we find him sufficiently liable to
merit the admonition and warning of this Court regarding any future inappropriate use of his letterhead and title.
We limit ourselves to an admonition and warning since this is the respondent's first brush with our ethical rules
and no bad faith or ill motive attended his actions.

[G.R. No. 163208. August 13, 2008.]

HEIRS OF JUAN VALDEZ, SPS. POTENCIANO MALVAR and LOURDES MALVAR, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE
COURT OF APPEALS and L.C. LOPEZ RESOURCES, INC., respondents.

Remedial Law; Pleadings and Practice; Verifications; Certifications of Non-Forum Shopping; In several
Cases, Court allowed initiatory pleadings or petitions with initially defective verifications and certifications of non-
forum shopping on the ground of substantial compliance. That the CA could also require the respondents to
comment, with the obligation on the part of the petitioner to undertake rectification, is not without support from
established jurisprudence. In several cases, we allowed initiatory pleadings or petitions with initially defective
verifications and certifications of non-forum shopping on the ground of substantial compliance. We reasoned that
strict compliance with the requirement merely underscores its mandatory nature, in that, it cannot be dispensed
with or its requirements altogether disregarded. Thus, we have held that the subsequent submission of the
required documents (such as the secretary's certificate) constituted substantial compliance with the procedural
rules that justified relaxation of the requirements in the interest of justice.

Same; Judgments; Cases where the rule in immutabilty of judgment does not apply. Even granting that
the first May 5, 2003 Resolution became final and executory, the rule on immutability of judgment does not apply
in cases where what is to be modified or altered involves: (a) the correction of clerical errors; (b) the so-called nunc
pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party; (c) void judgments [such as a dismissal without prejudice
that was not intended to be issued] and those where circumstances transpire after the finality that render the
execution or enforcement, as in this case, of the judgment unjust or inequitable. To be sure, the rule does not
apply in cases where a supervening event such as the mistake undisputably committed by the court (i.e., the
unintended release of one of the resolutions, thus resulting in the conflict and confusion) took place.
[A.M. No. 08-1-11-MeTC. August 11, 2008.]

OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, petitioner, vs. MYRENE C. BALISI, Court Stenographer II, Metropolitan
Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 29, Manila, respondent.

Administrative Law; Courts; Non-office obligations, household chores and domestic concerns are not
sufficient reasons to excuse or justify habitual tardiness. In a long line of cases involving employees of the Court,
the respondents offered varied excuses for coming late to their offices. However, the Court had consistently ruled
that non-office obligations, household chores, and domestic concerns are not sufficient reasons to excuse or justify
habitual tardiness. Hence, Ms. Balisi's reason for her tardiness, that she has to attend to the need of her 5-year old
daughter before going to her office, cannot free her from her infractions. The Court cannot countenance such
infraction as it seriously compromises efficiency and hampers public service. By being habitually tardy, Ms. Balisi
has fallen short of the stringent standard of conduct demanded from everyone connected with the administration
of justice.

Same; Same; To inspire public respect for the justice system, court officials and employees are at all times
behooved to strictly observe official time, as punctuality is a virtue, absenteeism and tardiness are impermissible.
We have repeatedly reminded officials and employees of the Judiciary that by reason of the nature and functions
of their office, they must be role models in the faithful observance of the constitutional canon that public office is
a public trust. A way of doing this is through the strict observance of prescribed office hours and the efficient use
of every working moment, if only to give back the true worth of what the Government, and ultimately, the people,
pay in maintaining the Judiciary. Thus, to inspire public respect for the justice system, court officials and
employees are at all times behooved to strictly observe official time, as punctuality is a virtue, absenteeism and
tardiness are impermissible.

[G.R. No. 165744. August 11, 2008.]

OSCAR C. REYES, petitioner, vs. HON. REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MAKATI, Branch 142, ZENITH INSURANCE
CORPORATION, and RODRIGO C. REYES, respondents.

Actions; Pleadings and Practice; Fraud; In all averments of fraud or mistake, the circumstances
constituting fraud or mistake must be stated with particularity. The rule is that a complaint must contain a plain,
concise, and direct statement of the ultimate facts constituting the plaintiff's cause of action and must specify the
relief sought. Section 5, Rule 8 of the Revised Rules of Court provides that in all averments of fraud or mistake,
the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake must be stated with particularity. These rules find specific
application to Section 5 (a) of P.D. No. 902-A which speaks of corporate devices or schemes that amount to fraud
or misrepresentation detrimental to the public and/or to the stockholders.

Same; Same; Same; Allegations of deceit, machination, false pretenses, misrepresentation, and threats are
largely conclusions of law that, without supporting statements of the facts to which the allegations of fraud refer,
do not sufficiently state an effective cause of action. Allegations of deceit, machination, false pretenses,
misrepresentation, and threats are largely conclusions of law that, without supporting statements of the facts to
which the allegations of fraud refer, do not sufficiently state an effective cause of action. The late Justice Jose
Feria, a noted authority in Remedial Law, declared that fraud and mistake are required to be averred with
particularity in order to enable the opposing party to controvert the particular facts allegedly constituting such
fraud or mistake. Tested against these standards, we find that the charges of fraud against Oscar were not
properly supported by the required factual allegations. While the complaint contained allegations of fraud
purportedly committed by him, these allegations are not particular enough to bring the controversy within the
special commercial court's jurisdiction; they are not statements of ultimate facts, but are mere conclusions of law:
how and why the alleged appropriation of shares can be characterized as "illegal and fraudulent" were not
explained nor elaborated on.

Same; Same; Same; Special Commercial Courts; Jurisdictions; Not every allegation of fraud done in a
corporate setting or perpetrated by corporate officers will bring the case within the special commercial courts
jurisdiction. Not every allegation of fraud done in a corporate setting or perpetrated by corporate officers will
bring the case within the special commercial court's jurisdiction. To fall within this jurisdiction, there must be
sufficient nexus showing that the corporation's nature, structure, or powers were used to facilitate the fraudulent
device or scheme. Contrary to this concept, the complaint presented a reverse situation. No corporate power or
office was alleged to have facilitated the transfer of the shares; rather, Oscar, as an individual and without
reference to his corporate personality, was alleged to have transferred the shares of Anastacia to his name,
allowing him to become the majority and controlling stockholder of Zenith, and eventually, the corporation's
President. This is the essence of the complaint read as a whole.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; In ordinary cases, the failure to specifically allege the fraudulent acts
does not constitute a ground for dismissal since such defect can be cured by a bill of particulars, but it is different in
intra-corporate controversies since under the Interim Rules on Procedure on Intra-Corporate Controversies, a bill of
particulars is a prohibited pleading. In ordinary cases, the failure to specifically allege the fraudulent acts does not
constitute a ground for dismissal since such defect can be cured by a bill of particulars. In cases governed by the
Interim Rules of Procedure on Intra-Corporate Controversies, however, a bill of particulars is a prohibited pleading.
It is essential, therefore, for the complaint to show on its face what are claimed to be the fraudulent corporate acts
if the complainant wishes to invoke the court's special commercial jurisdiction. We note that twice in the course
of this case, Rodrigo had been given the opportunity to study the propriety of amending or withdrawing the
complaint, but he consistently refused. The court's function in resolving issues of jurisdiction is limited to the
review of the allegations of the complaint and, on the basis of these allegations, to the determination of whether
they are of such nature and subject that they fall within the terms of the law defining the court's jurisdiction.
Regretfully, we cannot read into the complaint any specifically alleged corporate fraud that will call for the exercise
of the court's special commercial jurisdiction. Thus, we cannot affirm the RTC's assumption of jurisdiction over
Rodrigo's complaint on the basis of Section 5 (a) of P.D. No. 902-A.

Corporation Law; Intra-Corporate Controversies; Relationship Test; A review of relevant jurisprudence


shows a development on the Courts approach in classifying what constitutes an intra-corporate controversy
initially, the main consideration in determining whether a dispute constitutes an intra-corporate controversy was
limited to a a consideration of the intra-corporate relationship existing between or among the parties. A review
of relevant jurisprudence shows a development in the Court's approach in classifying what constitutes an intra-
corporate controversy. Initially, the main consideration in determining whether a dispute constitutes an intra-
corporate controversy was limited to a consideration of the intra-corporate relationship existing between or
among the parties. The types of relationships embraced under Section 5 (b), as declared in the case of Union Glass
& Container Corp. v. SEC, were as follows:

a)between the corporation, partnership, or association and the public;

b)between the corporation, partnership, or association and its stockholders, partners, members, or officers;
c)between the corporation, partnership, or association and the State as far as its franchise, permit or license to
operate is concerned; and

d)among the stockholders, partners, or associates themselves. [Emphasis supplied.]

The existence of any of the above intra-corporate relations was sufficient to confer jurisdiction to the SEC,
regardless of the subject matter of the dispute. This came to be known as the relationship test.

Same; Same; Same; Nature of the Controversy Test; In DMRC Enterprises v. Esta del Sol Mountain Reserve,
Inc. (1984), the Court introduced the nature of the controversy test, under which test the incidents of that
relationship must also be considered for the purpose of ascertaining whether the controversy itself is intra-
corporate. In the 1984 case of DMRC Enterprises v. Esta del Sol Mountain Reserve, Inc., the Court introduced the
nature of the controversy test. We declared in this case that it is not the mere existence of an intra-corporate
relationship that gives rise to an intra-corporate controversy; to rely on the relationship test alone will divest the
regular courts of their jurisdiction for the sole reason that the dispute involves a corporation, its directors, officers,
or stockholders. We saw that there is no legal sense in disregarding or minimizing the value of the nature of the
transactions which gives rise to the dispute. Under the nature of the controversy test, the incidents of that
relationship must also be considered for the purpose of ascertaining whether the controversy itself is intra-
corporate. The controversy must not only be rooted in the existence of an intra-corporate relationship, but must
as well pertain to the enforcement of the parties' correlative rights and obligations under the Corporation Code
and the internal and intra-corporate regulatory rules of the corporation. If the relationship and its incidents are
merely incidental to the controversy or if there will still be conflict even if the relationship does not exist, then no
intra-corporate controversy exists.The Court then combined the two tests and declared that jurisdiction should be
determined by considering not only the status or relationship of the parties, but also the nature of the question
under controversy. This two-tier test was adopted in the recent case of Speed Distribution, Inc. v. Court of
Appeals(2004):

To determine whether a case involves an intra-corporate controversy, and is to be heard and decided by the
branches of the RTC specifically designated by the Court to try and decide such cases, two elements must concur:
(a) the status or relationship of the parties; and (2) the nature of the question that is the subject of their
controversy.

Same; Same; Jurisdictions; Succession; Probate Proceedings; The status of heirs as co-owners of shares of
stocks prior to the partition of the decedents estate does not immediately and necessarily make them stockholders
of the corporation unless and until there is compliance with Section 63 of the Corporation Code on the manner of
transferring shares, the heirs do not become registered stockholders of the corporation. Article 777 of the Civil
Code declares that the successional rights are transmitted from the moment of death of the decedent.
Accordingly, upon Anastacia's death, her children acquired legal title to her estate (which title includes her
shareholdings in Zenith), and they are, prior to the estate's partition, deemed co-owners thereof. This status as co-
owners, however, does not immediately and necessarily make them stockholders of the corporation. Unless and
until there is compliance with Section 63 of the Corporation Code on the manner of transferring shares, the heirs
do not become registered stockholders of the corporation. Section 63 provides:

Section 63.Certificate of stock and transfer of shares. The capital stock of stock corporations shall be divided into
shares for which certificates signed by the president or vice-president, countersigned by the secretary or assistant
secretary, and sealed with the seal of the corporation shall be issued in accordance with the by-laws. Shares of
stock so issued are personal property and may be transferred by delivery of the certificate or certificates indorsed
by the owner or his attorney-in-fact or other person legally authorized to make the transfer. No transfer, however,
shall be valid, except as between the parties, until the transfer is recorded in the books of the corporation so as
to show the names of the parties to the transaction, the date of the transfer, the number of the certificate or
certificates, and the number of shares transferred. [Emphasis supplied.]

No shares of stock against which the corporation holds any unpaid claim shall be transferable in the books of the
corporation.

Simply stated, the transfer of title by means of succession, though effective and valid between the parties involved
(i.e., between the decedent's estate and her heirs), does not bind the corporation and third parties. The transfer
must be registered in the books of the corporation to make the transferee-heir a stockholder entitled to
recognition as such both by the corporation and by third parties.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Where there is an absence of partition and transfer of shares, an heir
cannot yet be considered a stockholder of a corporation, and the Court, therefore, cannot declare that an intra-
corporate relationship exists that would serve as a basis to bring the case within the special commercial courts
jurisdiction. Rodrigo must, therefore, hurdle two obstacles before he can be considered a stockholder of Zenith
with respect to the shareholdings originally belonging to Anastacia. First, he must prove that there are
shareholdings that will be left to him and his co-heirs, and this can be determined only in a settlement of the
decedent's estate. No such proceeding has been commenced to date. Second, he must register the transfer of the
shares allotted to him to make it binding against the corporation. He cannot demand that this be done unless and
until he has established his specific allotment (and prima facie ownership) of the shares. Without the settlement of
Anastacia's estate, there can be no definite partition and distribution of the estate to the heirs. Without the
partition and distribution, there can be no registration of the transfer. And without the registration, we cannot
consider the transferee-heir a stockholder who may invoke the existence of an intra-corporate relationship as
premise for an intra-corporate controversy within the jurisdiction of a special commercial court.In sum, we find
that insofar as the subject shares of stock (i.e., Anastacia's shares) are concerned Rodrigo cannot be
considered a stockholder of Zenith. Consequently, we cannot declare that an intra-corporate relationship exists
that would serve as basis to bring this case within the special commercial court's jurisdiction under Section 5 (b) of
P.D. 902-A, as amended. Rodrigo's complaint, therefore, fails the relationship test.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Pleadings and Practice; The body rather that the title of the complaint
determines the nature of the an action; In the instant case, the compliant yields the conclusion that, more than
anything else, it is about the protection and enforcement of successional rights the controversy it presents is
purely civil rather than corporate, although it is denominated as a complaint for accounting of all corporate funds
and assets. The body rather than the title of the complaint determines the nature of an action. Our examination
of the complaint yields the conclusion that, more than anything else, the complaint is about the protection and
enforcement of successional rights. The controversy it presents is purely civil rather than corporate, although it is
denominated as a "complaint for accounting of all corporate funds and assets". Contrary to the findings of both
the trial and appellate courts, we read only one cause of action alleged in the complaint. The "derivative suit for
accounting of the funds and assets of the corporation which are in the control, custody, and/or possession of the
respondent [herein petitioner Oscar]" does not constitute a separate cause of action but is, as correctly claimed by
Oscar, only an incident to the "action for determination of the shares of stock of deceased spouses Pedro and
Anastacia Reyes allegedly taken by respondent, its accounting and the corresponding delivery of these shares to
the parties' brothers and sisters". There can be no mistake of the relationship between the "accounting"
mentioned in the complaint and the objective of partition and distribution when Rodrigo claimed in paragraph
10.1 of the complaint.
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; A Regional Trial Court, acting as a special commercial court, has no
jurisdiction to settle, partition, and distribute the estate of the deceased; Matters which involve settlement and
distribution of the estate of the decedent shall fall within the exclusive province of the probate court in the exercise
of its limited jurisdiction. More than the matters of injury and redress, what Rodrigo clearly aims to accomplish
through his allegations of illegal acquisition by Oscar is the distribution of Anastacia's shareholdings without a prior
settlement of her estate an objective that, by law and established jurisprudence, cannot be done. The RTC of
Makati, acting as a special commercial court, has no jurisdiction to settle, partition, and distribute the estate of a
deceased. A relevant provision Section 2 of Rule 90 of the Revised Rules of Court that contemplates
properties of the decedent held by one of the heirs declares:

Questions as to advancement made or alleged to have been made by the deceased to any heir may be heard and
determined by the court having jurisdiction of the estate proceedings; and the final order of the court thereon
shall be binding on the person raising the questions and on the heir. [Emphasis supplied.]

Worth noting are this Court's statements in the case of Natcher v. Court of Appeals (2001):

Matters which involve settlement and distribution of the estate of the decedent fall within the exclusive
province of the probate court in the exercise of its limited jurisdiction.

Same: Same: Same: Same; Same; That an accounting of the funds and assets of a corporation to
determine the extent and value of a deceaseds shareholdings will be undertaken by a probate court and not by a
special commercial court is completely consistent with the probate courts limited jurisdiction it has the power to
enforce an accounting as a necessary means to its authority to determine the properties included in the inventory
of the estate to be administered, divided up, and distributed. That an accounting of the funds and assets of Zenith
to determine the extent and value of Anastacia's shareholdings will be undertaken by a probate court and not by a
special commercial court is completely consistent with the probate court's limited jurisdiction. It has the power to
enforce an accounting as a necessary means to its authority to determine the properties included in the inventory
of the estate to be administered, divided up, and distributed. Beyond this, the determination of title or ownership
over the subject shares (whether belonging to Anastacia or Oscar) may be conclusively settled by the probate court
as a question of collation or advancement.

Same; Same; Same; Derivative Suit; Requisites. Rodrigo's bare claim that the complaint is a derivative
suit will not suffice to confer jurisdiction on the RTC (as a special commercial court) if he cannot comply with the
requisites for the existence of a derivative suit. These requisites are:

a.the party bringing suit should be a shareholder during the time of the act or transaction complained of, the
number of shares not being material;

b.the party has tried to exhaust intra-corporate remedies, i.e., has made a demand on the board of directors for
the appropriate relief, but the latter has failed or refused to heed his plea; and

c.the cause of action actually devolves on the corporation; the wrongdoing or harm having been or being caused to
the corporation and not to the particular stockholder bringing the suit.
[G.R. No. 172696. August 11, 2008.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. BENITO BALLESTEROS y GRAGASIN, accused-appellant.

Appeals; Witnesses; An established rule in appellate review is that the trial courts factual findings
including its assessment of the credibility of the witnesses and the probative weight of their testimonies, as well as
the conclusions drawn from the factual findings, are accorded respect, if not conclusive effect. An established rule
in appellate review is that the trial court's factual findings, including its assessment of the credibility of the
witnesses and the probative weight of their testimonies, as well as the conclusions drawn from the factual
findings, are accorded respect, if not conclusive effect. These factual findings and conclusions assume greater
weight if they are affirmed by the CA. Despite the enhanced persuasive effect of the initial RTC factual ruling and
the results of the CA's appellate factual review, we nevertheless carefully scrutinized the records of this case as the
penalty of reclusion perpetua that the lower courts imposed on the accused demands no less than this kind of
scrutiny.

Criminal Law; Murder; Aggravating Circumstances; Treachery; Requisites; There is treachery when the
offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means, method or forms which tend to directly
and especially to insure its execution, without risk to the offender, arising from the defense that the offended
party might make. Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code defines the crime of murder as follows:

Any person who, not falling within the provisions of Article 246 shall kill another, shall be guilty of murder and shall
be punished by reclusion perpetua to death if committed with any of the following attendant circumstances:

1.With treachery . . .

In convicting the appellant of murder, the trial court appreciated treachery. There is treachery when the offender
commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means, method or forms which tend directly and especially
to insure its execution, without risk to the offender, arising from the defense that the offended party might make.

To prove this qualifying circumstance, the following must be shown: (1) the employment of such means of
execution as would give the person attacked no opportunity for self-defense or retaliation; and (2) the deliberate
and conscious adoption of the means of execution. The essence of treachery is the sudden and unexpected attack
by an aggressor without the slightest provocation on the part of the victim, thereby depriving the latter of any real
opportunity for self-defense and ensuring the commission of the crime without risk to the aggressor.

Same; Same; Same; Evident Premeditation; Elements. While evident premeditation was alleged in the
Information, the court a quo correctly concluded that this circumstance was not proven. For evident premeditation
to be appreciated, the following elements must be established: (1) the time when the accused decided to commit
the crime; (2) an overt act manifestly indicating that he has clung to his determination; and (3) sufficient lapse of
time between decision and execution to allow the accused to reflect upon the consequences of his act. The "time"
requirement is critical in evident premeditation as it indicates the "premeditation" aspect the opportunity to
coolly and serenely think and deliberate on the meaning and the consequences of what the accused planned to do.
In the stabbing of Reyes, the flow of events showed that this element was not present.

Same; Same; Damages; To be entitled to actual damages, it is necessary to prove the actual amount of
loss with a reasonable degree of certainty, premised on the upon competent proof and on the best evidence
obtainable to the injured party; When actual damaged proven by receipts during trial amount to less than
P25,000.00, the award of temperate damages for P25,000.00 is justified, in lieu of actual damages of a lesser
amount; Moral damages are mandatory in cases of murder and homicide, without need of allegation and proof
other than the death of the victim; When a crime is committed is committed with an aggravating circumstance,
either qualifying or generic, an award of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages is justified under Article 2230 of the
New Civil Code. The RTC awarded the amount of P66,090.50 to the victim's heirs as actual damages. It appears
that out of the said amount, only P16,591.00 were supported by receipts. The difference consists of the
unreceipted amounts claimed by Reyes' heirs. To be entitled to actual damages, it is necessary to prove the actual
amount of loss with a reasonable degree of certainty, premised upon competent proof and on the best evidence
obtainable to the injured party. However, considering that the proven amount is less than P25,000.00, we opt to
award temperate damages in the amount of P25,000.00 in lieu of actual damages pursuant to our ruling in People
v. Villanueva. There, we held that when actual damages proven by receipts during the trial amount to less than
P25,000.00, as in this case, the award of temperate damages for P25,000.00 is justified, in lieu of actual damages
of a lesser amount. Moral damages are mandatory in cases of murder and homicide, without need of allegation
and proof other than the death of the victim. In accordance with prevailing rules, we increase the amount to
P50,000.00. The heirs of the victim are likewise entitled to exemplary damages since the qualifying circumstance of
treachery was firmly established. When a crime is committed with an aggravating circumstance, either qualifying
or generic, an award of P25,000.00 as exemplary damages is justified under Article 2230 of the New Civil Code. We
increase this amount from P10,000.00 to P25,000.00 to conform with recent jurisprudence.

Same; Same; Same; Loss of Earning Capacity; Evidence; As a rule, documentary evidence should be
presented to substantiate a claim for damages for loss of earning capacity. We cannot award loss of earning
capacity to the victim's heirs because no documentary evidence was presented to substantiate this claim. As a rule,
documentary evidence should be presented to substantiate a claim for damages for loss of earning capacity. While
there are exceptions to the rule, these exceptions do not apply as the victim, Reyes, was a barangay captain when
he died; he was not a worker earning less than the current minimum wage under current labor laws.

[G.R. No. 165114. August 6, 2008.]

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. MABELLE RAVELO and SPOUSES EMMANUEL and PERLITA
REDONDO, respondents.

Public Lands; Land Titles; The statements made in the application shall be considered essential conditions
and parts of any concession, title or permit issued on the basis of such application, and any false statement therein
or omission of facts altering or changing or modifying the consideration of the facts set forth in such statement
shall ipso facto produce the cancellation of the concession, title or permit granted. Under Section 91 of CA No.
141, the "statements made in application shall be considered essential conditions and parts of any concession, title
or permit issued on the basis of such application, and any false statement therein or omission of facts altering or
changing or modifying the consideration of the facts set forth in such statements . . . shall ipso facto produce the
cancellation of the concession, title, or permit granted." This provision is reinforced by jurisprudential rulings that
stress in no uncertain terms the consequences of any fraud or misrepresentation committed in the course of
applying for a land patent.

Land Registration; An act of registration shall be the operative act to convey or affect the land in so far as
third persons are concerned, and in all cases under this Decree, the registration shall be made in the office of the
Register of Deeds for the province or city where the land lies. The act of registration shall be the operative act to
convey or affect the land in so far as third persons are concerned, and in all cases under this Decree, the
registration shall be made in the office of the Register of Deeds for the province or city where the land lies. Thus,
bereft of registration, any sale or transaction involving registered land operates only as a contract between the
parties and shall not affect or bind the registered property.

Same; The annotation of the levy in execution and the certificate of sale did not merit any consideration in
the decisions of both the trial and the appellate courts. We however, consider these developments material as they
embody notices to the whole world of transactions affecting the registered subject lot. The annotation of the levy
in execution and the certificate of sale did not merit any consideration in the decisions of both the trial and the
appellate courts. We, however, consider these developments material as they embody notices to the whole world
of transactions affecting the registered subject lot; they should be the starting point of any consideration of the
existence of good or bad faith of the parties dealing with the land. These annotations signify that Chieng's
purchase of the subject lot in the execution sale constituted a prior and superior claim in time over the subject lot
by any of the dramatis personae in the present case.

Same; Torrens Systems; The legal protection offered by registration under the Torrens system compels us
to recognize the validity of the claim of an innocent purchaser for value despite any defect in the vendors title.
barring any defect in the sale itself and assuming that Chieng did not have any prior knowledge, constructive or
otherwise, of any defect in Ravelo's title, Chieng has a prior claim to the property that is protected by the fact of
registration and by his status as an innocent buyer in good faith and for value. The legal protection offered by
registration under the Torrens system compels us to recognize the validity of the claim of an innocent purchaser
for value despite any defect in the vendor's title. Likewise, it does not matter that the final deed of sale and
transfer of registration of the title to Chieng, as innocent purchaser for value at an auction sale, occurred
subsequent to the annotation of the intervening notice of lis pendens, as the final deed of sale and transfer are the
necessary consequences of the previously registered notice of levy and certificate of sale.

Same; Same; It was only then when a sale or real property by a registered owner was concluded where
good faith or bad faith on the part of the buyer would have mattered but at that point a notice of lis pendens had
already been annotated. We cannot see how the Redondos could have been purchasers in good faith in May 1993
when they were not even purchasers of the subject lot at that point. Specifically, it was not until Chieng and the
Redondos executed their November 21, 1994 deed of sale over the subject lot that they had a contract of sale that
would have served as evidence of authority to the Register of Deeds to make registration. It was only then when a
sale of real property by a registered owner was concluded where good faith or bad faith on the part of the buyer
would have mattered but at that point a notice of lis pendens had already been annotated.

Land Titles; Lis Pendens; Words and Phrases; Lis pendens literally means a pending suit, while a notice of
lis pendens, inscribed in the certificate of title, is an announcement to the whole world that the covered property is
in litigation, serving as a warning that one who acquires interest in the property does so at his own risk and subject
to the results of the litigation. Lis pendens literally means "a pending suit", while a notice of lis pendens, inscribed
in the certificate of title, is an announcement to the whole world that the covered property is in litigation, serving
as a warning that one who acquires interest in the property does so at his own risk and subject to the results of the
litigation. This is embodied in Section 76 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529 which provides that no action to
recover possession of real estate, or to quiet title thereto, or to remove clouds upon the title thereof, or for
partition, or other proceedings of any kind in court directly affecting the title to land or the use or occupation
thereof or the buildings thereon, and no judgment, and no proceeding to vacate or reverse any judgment, shall
have any effect upon registered land as against persons other than the parties thereto, unless a memorandum or
notice stating the institution of such action or proceeding and the court wherein the same is pending, as well as the
date of the institution thereof, together with a reference to the number of the certificate of title, and an adequate
description of the land affected and the registered owner thereof, shall have been filed and registered. The notice
that this provision speaks of the notice of lis pendens is not a lien or encumbrance on the property, but
simply a notice to prospective buyers or to those dealing with the property that it is under litigation.

[G.R. No. 168667. July 23, 2008.]

SPOUSES ALFREDO D. VALMONTE and MARIA LOURDES A. VALMONTE, petitioners, vs. CLARITA ALCALA, JOHN
DOE or JANE DOE, respondents.

Pleadings and Practice; Verification; Generally, pleading is not required to be verified unless required by
law or by the Rules of Court; Verification, when required is intended to secure an assurance that the allegations of a
pleading are true and correct; are not speculative or merely imagined; and have not been made in good faith. a
pleading is not required to be verified unless required by law or by the Rules of Court. One such requirement is
found in Section 1 of Rule 42 which requires a party appealing from a decision of the RTC rendered in the exercise
of its appellate jurisdiction to file a verified petition for review with the CA. Verification, when required, is
intended to secure an assurance that the allegations of a pleading are true and correct; are not speculative or
merely imagined; and have been made in good faith. To achieve this purpose, the verification of a pleading is made
through an affidavit or sworn statement confirming that the affiant has read the pleading whose allegations are
true and correct of the affiant's personal knowledge or based on authentic records.

Same; Same; We should not lose sight of the reality that pleadings are prepared and signed by the counsel
at the instructions of the client the latter merely provides the supporting facts of the pleadings, and as needed,
verifies that the allegations are true and correct. ; The pleading and the verification are prepared separately and a
variance in their dates is a matter that may satisfactorily be explained; To demand the litigants to read the very
same document that is to be filed before the courts is too rigorous a requirement what the Rules require is for a
party to read the contents of a pleading without anu specific requirement in the form or manner in which the
reading is to be done. the variance in dates does not necessarily contradict the categorical declaration made by
petitioners in their affidavit that they read and understood the contents of the pleading. The petitioners' claim in
this regard is that they read a copy of the CA Petition through an electronic mail (e-mail) sent to them by their
lawyers. We find this claim, under the circumstances more fully discussed below, to be a reasonable explanation of
why a variance in dates existed. We should not lose sight of the reality that pleadings are prepared and signed by
the counsel at the instructions of the client; the latter merely provides the supporting facts of the pleading and, as
needed, verifies that the allegations are true and correct. In short, the pleading and the verification are prepared
separately and a variance in their dates is a matter that may satisfactorily be explained. To demand the litigants to
read the very same document that is to be filed before the courts is too rigorous a requirement; what the Rules
require is for a party to read the contents of a pleading without any specific requirement on the form or manner in
which the reading is to be done. That a client may read the contents of a pleading without seeing the same
pleading to be actually filed with the court is, in these days of e-mails and other technological advances in
communication, not an explanation that is hard to believe. Apparently in this case, counsel sent a copy of the draft
petition by e-mail and finalized it as soon as it was approved by the petitioners. The latter, on the other hand,
complied with their end not only by approving the terms of the petition, but also by sending a copy of their sworn
statement (as yet unauthenticated) in order to file the petition soonest, thereby complying with the required
timeliness for the filing of the petition. To our mind, beyond the manner of these exchanges, what is important is
that efforts were made to satisfy the objective of the Rule to ensure good faith and veracity in the allegations of
a pleading thereby allowing the courts to act on the case with reasonable certainty that the petitioners' real
positions have been pleaded.
Same; Same; Conflict of Laws; Foreign Notaries ; Judicial Notice; While overseas litigants are not excused
form complying with our Rules such as the strict observance of the periods for appeal and the verification
requirement, we must take into account the attendant realities brought into play because they are suing from
overseas or via long distance communications with their counsel; There are added formalities required for the
acceptance on the Philippines of statements sworn overseas before foreign notaries, such as their authentication by
Philippines consulates, a process whose completion time may vary depending, among others, on various factors
such as the location of the requesting party from the consulate, the peculiarities of foreign laws on notaries, the
volume of transactions on a consulate, noting particularly the time of year when the authentication is requested,
and the mode of sending the authenticated documents to the Philippines. The "circumstances" we mentioned
above refer to the petitioners' unique situation as parties residing overseas who are litigating locally through their
local counsel. While these overseas litigants are not excused from complying with our Rules such as the strict
observance of the periods for appeal and the verification requirement, we must take into account the attendant
realities brought into play because they are suing from overseas or via long distance communications with their
counsel. In the verification requirement, there are added formalities required for the acceptance in the Philippines
of statements sworn overseas before foreign notaries; we require their authentication by our consulates. This is a
process whose completion time may vary depending, among others, on various factors such as the location of the
requesting party from the consulate; the peculiarities of foreign laws on notaries; the volume of transactions in a
consulate, noting particularly the time of year when the authentication is requested; and the mode of sending the
authenticated documents to the Philippines. Apparently compelled by one or a combination of these reasons, the
petitioners in fact manifested when they filed their petition (on March 31, 2005) that they were submitting a
photostatic copy of the Verification/Certification executed in Washington on March 17, 2005 since the original was
still with the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco for authentication. We take judicial notice that the petitioners'
request for authentication coincided with the observance of the Holy Week a traditional period of prayer and
holidays in the Philippines, for the Philippines' foreign embassies and consulates, and even for Filipinos overseas.
We find it significant that, conformably with their Manifestation, the petitioners' counsel filed on April 8, 2005 the
duly sworn and authenticated Verification as soon as counsel received it. Under these circumstances, there is
every reason for an equitable and relaxed application of the rules to the petitioners' situation.

Same; Same; Where most of the material allegations set forth by the petitioners in their Court of Appeals
Petition are already in their complaint for unlawful detainer earlier filed before the Municipal Trial Court,
verification as to the truth of these facts in the petition for review before the Court of Appeals is a redundancy its
filing remained a necessity only because the Rules on the filing of a petition for review before the CA require it. we
note that most of the material allegations set forth by petitioners in their CA Petition are already in their complaint
for unlawful detainer filed before the MTC on April 26, 2002. Attached to the complaint was a
Verification/Certification dated March 18, 2002 (authenticated by the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco on
March 27, 2002) in which petitioners declared under oath that they had caused the preparation of the complaint
through their lawyers and had read and understood the allegations of the complaint. The material facts alleged in
the CA Petition are likewise stated in the records of the case, as part of the findings of facts made by the MTC and
the RTC. Verification as to the truth of these facts in the petition for review before the CA was, therefore, strictly a
redundancy; its filing remained a necessity only because the Rules on the filing of a petition for review before the
CA require it. This consideration could have led to a more equitable treatment of the petitioners' failure to strictly
comply with the Rules, additionally justified by the fact that the failure to comply with the rules on verification is a
formal rather than a jurisdictional defect.
[G.R. No. 166510. July 23, 2008.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. BENJAMIN "KOKOY" T. ROMUALDEZ and THE SANDIGANBAYAN
(FIRST DIVISION), respondents.

Appeals; Certiorari; Petition for Review on Certiorari. The purpose and occasion for the use of Rules 45
and 65 as modes of review are clearly established under the Rules of Court and related jurisprudence. Rule 45
provides for the broad process of appeal to the Supreme Court on pure errors of law committed by the lower
court. Rule 65, on the other hand, provides a completely different basis for review through the extraordinary writ
of certiorari. The writ is extraordinary because it solely addresses lower court actions rendered without or in
excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. By express provision, Rule
65 is the proper remedy when there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary
course of law. Thus, the remedies of appeal and certiorari are mutually exclusive and not alternative or successive;
certiorari is not allowed when a party to a case fails to appeal a judgment or final order despite the availability of
that remedy; a petition for certiorari cannot likewise be a substitute for a lost appeal.

Procedural Rules and Technicalities; In the spirit embodied in the second paragraph if Article VIII, Section 1
of the Constitution, and the interest of substantial justice, the Supreme Court will not hesitate to deviate from the
strict application of procedural rules when grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction is
properly and substantially alleged in a petition filed after the lapse of the period for appeal under Rule 45 but prior
to the lapse of the period for filing a Rule 65 petition. In the spirit embodied in this constitutional provision and in
the interest of substantial justice, we will not hesitate to deviate from the strict application of our procedural rules
when grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction is properly and substantially alleged in a
petition filed after the lapse of the period for appeal under Rule 45 but prior to the lapse of the period for filing a
Rule 65 petition. Conceptually, no major deviation from the rules in fact transpires in doing this. Under established
jurisprudence, decisions and rulings rendered without or with lack or excess of jurisdiction are null and void,
subject only to the procedural limits on the right to question them provided under Rule 65. It is for this reason that
a decision that lapses to finality fifteen (15) days after its receipt can still be questioned, within sixty (60) days
therefrom, on jurisdictional grounds, although the decision has technically lapsed to finality. The only deviation in
terms of strict application of the Rules is from what we have discussed above regarding the basic nature of a
petition for certiorari as expressly laid down by Rule 65; it is available only when there is no appeal or any other
plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, and thus is not allowed as a substitute when a
party fails to appeal a judgment or final order despite the availability of that remedy.

Criminal Procedure; Motion to Quash; The determinative test in appreciating a motion to quash under
Section 3 (a) of Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Court is the sufficiency of the averments in the information, that is
whether the facts alleged, if hypothetically admitted, would establish the essential element of the offense as
defined by law without considering matters aliunde. Romualdez' motion to quash that gave rise to the present
case was anchored on Section 3 (a) of Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Court which provides:

Section 3.Grounds. The accused may move to quash the complaint or information on any of the following
grounds:

(a)That the facts charged do not constitute an offense;

xxx xxx xxx


The determinative test in appreciating a motion to quash under this rule is the sufficiency of the averments in the
information, that is, whether the facts alleged, if hypothetically admitted, would establish the essential elements
of the offense as defined by law without considering matters aliunde. As Section 6, Rule 117 of the Rules of
Criminal Procedure requires, the information only needs to state the ultimate facts; the evidentiary and other
details can be provided during the trial.

Grave abuse of Discretion; Words and Phrases; The court acts correctly, or commits errors of the law
depending on its conclusions if based solely on the four corners of the information as jurisprudence dictates,
independently of any evidence whether prima facie or conclusive, and hypothetically assuming the truth of all the
allegations on the Information it rules on whether all the elements of the offenses as defined by law are present;
The court acts with grave abuse of discretion if its ruling is a capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment
equivalent to lack if jurisdiction, or if it rules in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal
hostility, or of it acts in a manner patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty, or to a virtual
refusal to perform he duty enjoined, or to action outside the contemplation of law. Whether the Sandiganbayan
acted correctly, or committed errors of law while in the exercise of its jurisdiction, or gravely abused its discretion
in quashing the information, are to be determined based on the application of the standards in evaluating a
motion to quash, in light of the elements and terms of the offense with which the accused stands charged. The
Sandiganbayan acts correctly or commits errors of law depending on its conclusions if based solely on the
"four corners" of the information as jurisprudence mandates, independently of any evidence whether prima facie
or conclusive, and hypothetically assuming the truth of all the allegations in the Information it rules on whether
all the elements of the offense as defined by law are present. On the other hand, it acts with grave abuse of
discretion if its ruling is a capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment equivalent to lack of jurisdiction; or if it
rules in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility; or if it acts in a manner so
patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of positive duty, or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined,
or to action outside the contemplation of law.

Same; Same; A court grossly violates the defined standard when its conclusions are based on
considerations that either are not appropriate in evaluating a motion to quash, or are evidentiary details not
required to be stated in an Information, or are matters of defense that have no place in an Information, or are
statements amounting to rulings on the merits that a court cannot issue before trial. Based on these
considerations, we hold that the Sandiganbayan's actions grossly violated the defined standards. Its conclusions
are based on considerations that either not appropriate in evaluating a motion to quash; are evidentiary details
not required to be stated in an Information; are matters of defense that have no place in an Information; or are
statements amounting to rulings on the merits that a court cannot issue before trial.

Criminal Law; Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (R.A. No. 3019); Violation of Section 3(e); Correctly
understood, it is not the holding of two concurrent positions or the attendant efficiency in the handling of these
two positions, but the causing of undue injury to the government that is at the core of s Section 3(e) violation.
Worse than the premature ruling it made in the above-quoted conclusion was the patent speculation that the
Sandiganbayan undertook in considering "inefficiency" and arriving at its conclusion. Still much worse was its
misreading of what a violation of Section 3 (e), R.A. 3019 involves. Correctly understood, it is not the holding of
two concurrent positions or the attendant efficiency in the handling of these positions, but the causing of undue
injury to the government that is at the core of a Section 3 (e) violation. The same misreading was evident when
the Sandiganbayan stated in its second Resolution that "the accused cannot be held criminally liable, whether or
not he had himself appointed to the position of the ambassador, while concurrently holding the position of
provincial governor, because the act of appointment is something that can only be imputed to the appointing
authority."
[G.R. No. 150025. July 23, 2008.]

SPS. NARCISO BARNACHEA and JULITA BARNACHEA (now heirs of deceased Julita Barnachea), petitioners, vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. OSCAR C. HERRERA, JR., Presiding Judge, RTC Branch 20, Malolos, Bulacan,
HON., HORACIO T. VIOLA, Presiding Judge, MTC Pulilan, Bulacan, and SPS. AVELINO and PRISCILLA IGNACIO,
respondents.

Actions; Ejectment; Unlawful Detainer; Forcible Entry; Words and Phrases; Forcible Entry and Unlawful
Detainer, Distinguished. The actions for forcible entry and unlawful detainer are similar because they are both
summary actions where the issue is purely physical possession. Other than these commonalities, however, they
possess dissimilarities that are clear, distinct, and well established in law. In forcible entry, (1) the plaintiff must
prove that he was in prior physical possession of the property until he was deprived of possession by the
defendant; (2) the defendant secures possession of the disputed property from the plaintiff by means of force,
intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth; hence, his possession is unlawful from the beginning; (3) the law does not
require a previous demand by the plaintiff for the defendant to vacate the premises; and (4) the action can be
brought only within one-year from the date the defendant actually and illegally entered the property. In marked
contrast, unlawful detainer is attended by the following features: (1) prior possession of the property by the
plaintiff is not necessary; (2) possession of the property by the defendant at the start is legal but the possession
becomes illegal by reason of the termination of his right to possession based on his or her contract or other
arrangement with the plaintiff; (3) the plaintiff is required by law to make a demand as a jurisdictional
requirement; and (4) the one-year period to bring the complaint is counted from the date of the plaintiff's last
demand on the defendant.

Same; Same; Same; A person who occupies land of another at the latters tolerance or permission, without
any contract between them, is necessarily bound by an implied promise that he will vacate upon demand, failing
which a summary action for ejectment is the proper remedy the status of the defendant is analogous to that of a
lessee or tenant whose terms has expired but whose occupancy continues by tolerance of owner. A critical point
for us in arriving at our conclusion is the complete absence of any allegation of force, intimidation, strategy or
stealth in the complaint with respect to the petitioners' possession of the respondents' property. While admittedly
no express contract existed between the parties regarding the petitioners' possession, the absence does not signify
an illegality in the entry nor an entry by force, intimidation, strategy or stealth that would characterize the entry as
forcible. It has been held that a person who occupies land of another at the latter's tolerance or permission,
without any contract between them, is necessarily bound by an implied promise that he will vacate upon demand,
failing which a summary action for ejectment is the proper remedy. The status of the defendant is analogous to
that of a lessee or tenant whose terms has expired but whose occupancy continues by tolerance of the owner.

Same; Same; Same; Jurisdictions; The one-year period within which to commence an ejectment proceeding
is a prescriptive period as well as a jurisdictional requirement. The one-year period within which to commence an
ejectment proceeding is a prescriptive period as well as a jurisdictional requirement. Hence, Article 1155 of the
Civil Code on the manner of reckoning the prescriptive period must necessarily come into play. Under this Article,
the filing of a complaint in court interrupts the running of prescription of actions. As an action for unlawful
detainer, the one-year prescription period started running after August 31, 1998 the date of receipt of the
respondents' demand letter. The period ran for almost two months until it was interrupted on October 20, 1998
when the respondents filed their ejectment complaint. This complaint, however, was dismissed on December 8,
1999. Upon this dismissal, the prescriptive period again began to run for about four months when another
interruption intervened the revival of the complaint on April 5, 2000. Evidently, under these undisputed facts,
the period when the prescriptive period effectively ran does not add up to the one-year prescriptive period that
would jurisdictionally bar the ejectment case.

Same; Same; As a rule, a pending civil action involving ownership of the same property does not justify the
suspension of the ejectment proceedings; Exceptions. The issue in an unlawful detainer case is limited to physical
possession. When a claim of ownership is used as a basis for de facto possession or to assert a better possessory
right, the court hearing the case may provisionally rule on the issue of ownership. As a rule, however, a pending
civil action involving ownership of the same property does not justify the suspension of the ejectment proceedings.
Only in rare cases has this Court allowed a suspension of the ejectment proceedings and one of these is in the case
of Amagan v. Marayag that the petitioners cite.

[A.M. No. 08-1-07-MeTC. July 14, 2008.]

OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, petitioner, vs. EMMA ANNIE D. ARAFILES, Court Legal Researcher,
Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 48, Pasay City, respondent.

Courts; Court Personnel; Habitual Tardiness; Under Civil Service Commission (CSC) Memorandum Circular
No. 14, S. 1991, an officer or employee if the civil service is considered habitually tardy if he incurs tardiness,
regardless of the number of minutes, ten (10) times a month for at least two (2) months in a semester or for at least
two (2) consecutive months during the year. The law requires all government officials and employees to render
not less than eight (8) hours of work per day for five (5) days a week, or a total of forty (40) hours of work per
week, exclusive of time for lunch. As a rule, these hours are from eight (8) o'clock in the morning to five (5) o'clock
in the afternoon. Under CSC Memorandum Circular No. 14, S. 1991, an officer or employee of the civil service is
considered habitually tardy if he incurs tardiness, regardless of the number of minutes, ten (10) times a month for
at least two (2) months in a semester or for at least two (2) consecutive months during the year.

Same; Same; Same; Non-office obligations, household chores, traffic problems, and health, domestic and
financial concerns are not sufficient reasons to excuse or justify habitual tardiness. We have previously ruled that
non-office obligations, household chores, traffic problems, and health, domestic and financial concerns are not
sufficient reasons to excuse or justify habitual tardiness. These are the types of reasons Ms. Arafiles gave; hence,
we cannot free her from liability for her infractions.

[G.R. No. 156571. July 9, 2008.]

INTRA-STRATA ASSURANCE CORPORATION and PHILIPPINE HOME ASSURANCE CORPORATION, petitioners, vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the BUREAU OF CUSTOMS, respondent.

Civil Law; Insurance Law; Contracts; Suretyship; Definition and Characteristics of a Suretyship; The liability
of surety is joint and several but limited to the amount of the bond. Section 175 of the Insurance Code defines a
contract of suretyship as an agreement whereby a party called the surety guarantees the performance by another
party called the principal or obligor of an obligation or undertaking in favor of another party called the obligee, and
includes among its various species bonds such as those issued pursuant to Section 1904 of the Code. Significantly,
"pertinent provisions of the Civil Code of the Philippines shall be applied in a suppletory character whenever
necessary in interpreting the provisions of a contract of suretyship". By its very nature under the terms of the laws
regulating suretyship, the liability of the surety is joint and several but limited to the amount of the bond, and its
terms are determined strictly by the terms of the contract of suretyship in relation to the principal contract
between the obligor and the obligee. The definition and characteristics of a suretyship bring into focus the fact
that a surety agreement is an accessory contract that introduces a third party element in the fulfillment of the
principal obligation that an obligor owes an obligee. In short, there are effectively two (2) contracts involved when
a surety agreement comes into play a principal contract and an accessory contract of suretyship. Under the
accessory contract, the surety becomes directly, primarily, and equally bound with the principal as the original
promissor although he possesses no direct or personal interest over the latter's obligations and does not receive
any benefit therefrom.

Same; Same; Same; Same; A feature of the petitioners bonds not stated expressly in the bonds themselves
but one that is true in every contract, is that applicable laws form part of and are read into the contract without
need for any express reference. A feature of the petitioners' bonds, not stated expressly in the bonds themselves
but one that is true in every contract, is that applicable laws form part of and are read into the contract without
need for any express reference. This feature proceeds from Article 1306 of the Civil Code.

Same; Same; Same; Same; A surety is not released by a change in the contract which does not have the
effect of making its obligation more onerous. We note in this regard the rule that a surety is released from its
obligation when there is a material alteration of the contract in connection with which the bond is given, such as a
change which imposes a new obligation on the promising party, or which takes away some obligation already
imposed, or one which changes the legal effect of the original contract and not merely its form. A surety, however,
is not released by a change in the contract which does not have the effect of making its obligation more onerous.

Same; Same; Same; Same; A surety contract is made principally for the benefit of the creditor-obligee and
this is ensured by the solidary nature of the sureties undertaking. the surety does not, by reason of the surety
agreement, earn the right to intervene in the principal creditor-debtor relationship; its role becomes alive only
upon the debtor's default, at which time it can be directly held liable by the creditor for payment as a solidary
obligor. A surety contract is made principally for the benefit of the creditor-obligee and this is ensured by the
solidary nature of the sureties' undertaking. Under these terms, the surety is not entitled as a rule to a separate
notice of default, nor to the benefit of excussion, and may be sued separately or together with the principal
debtor.

[G.R. No. 160474. July 9, 2008.]

PHILIPPINE LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE COMPANY, INC., petitioner, vs. ANTONIO T. REUS, respondent.

Labor Laws; Benefits; National Labor Relations Commission apparently wanted to order payment not
strictly based on the law for there was a cited cause for dismissal, nor on the eligibility terms of the companys
retirement plan for he was not being retired but on the basis of equity, it was simply applying the benefits of the
plan as a measure of what should be paid as equitable solution. A second obvious change, and the one most
material to the present dispute, is the removal of the order for payment of retirement benefits that the
complainant "may be entitled" to under the company's retirement plan. The NLRC simply ordered "the respondent
to pay complainant benefits under its company retirement plan, less the amount of the lost collection and other
outstanding obligations of the complainant with the company as of date"; thus, removing the condition of
"entitlement" found in the Labor Arbiter's decision. Why the NLRC so worded the dispositive portion of its decision
is clarified by its own penultimate paragraph where the NLRC explained the basis for the modification, thus:
Mindful however of the length of service of herein complainant with respondent company and considering further
that the proximate cause of the loss of the collection is not solely attributable to him, the equitable solution would
be for Mr. Reus to be entitled to the retirement benefits under the retirement plan. With this explanation, it
immediately becomes clear that the NLRC was not ordering the payment of benefits under the plan because the
respondent was entitled thereto under the terms of the plan, or that it entertained doubts about entitlement and
was ordering payment if entitlement could be established. The NLRC apparently had other thoughts in mind; it
wanted to order payment not strictly based on the law for there was a cited cause for dismissal, nor on the
eligibility terms of the company's retirement plan for he was not being retired but on the basis of equity; it was
simply applying the benefits of the plan as a measure of what should be paid as "equitable solution", to quote
directly from the words of the 1993 NLRC decision. Thus, its order for payment was clear, direct, and unfettered by
any condition of entitlement or eligibility.

[G.R. No. 153287. June 30, 2008.]

NOEL GUILLERMO y BASILIANO, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.

Criminal Law; Evidence; As a rule, the prosecution bears the burdon of establishing the guilt of the accused
beyond reasonable doubt. As a rule, the prosecution bears the burden of establishing the guilt of the accused
beyond reasonable doubt. However, when the accused admits the killing and, by way of justification, pleads self-
defense, the burden of evidence shifts; he must then show by clear and convincing evidence that he indeed acted
in self-defense. For that purpose, he must rely on the strength of his own evidence and not on the weakness of the
prosecution's evidence.

Same; Justifying Circumstances; Self-Defense; The elements that the accused must establish by clear and
convincing evidence to successfully plead self-defense are enumerated unde Article 11 (1) of the Revised Penal
Code. The elements that the accused must establish by clear and convincing evidence to successfully plead self-
defense are enumerated under Article 11 (1) of the Revised Penal Code: ART. 11.Justifying circumstances. The
following do not incur any criminal liability: 1.Anyone who acts in defense of his person or rights, provided that
the following circumstances concur;

First. Unlawful aggression;

Second. Reasonable necessity of the means employed to prevent or repel it;

Third. Lack of sufficient provocation on the part of the person defending himself.

As a justifying circumstance, self-defense may be complete or incomplete. It is complete when all the three
essential requisites are present; it is incomplete when the mandatory element of unlawful aggression by the victim
is present, plus any one of the two essential requisites. In the present case, we find it beyond dispute that the
victim Winnie started the fight that ended in his death; he struck the petitioner on the head when the latter
intervened to pacify the quarrel between Winnie and Arnaldo. In short, the victim was the unlawful aggressor
while the petitioner was in the lawful act of pacifying the quarreling parties; thus, the latter has in his favor the
element of unlawful aggression by the victim.

Same; Same; Same; In People vs. Escarlos (2003). this Court held that the means employed by a person
invoking self-defense must be reasonably commensurate to the nature and the extent of the attack sought to be
averted. The third element the reasonableness of the means to repel the aggression is the critical element
that the lower courts found lacking in the petitioner's case. Generally, reasonableness is a function of the nature or
severity of the attack or aggression confronting the accused, the means employed to repel this attack, the
surrounding circumstances of the attack such as its place and occasion, the weapons used, and the physical
condition of the parties which, when viewed as material considerations, must show rational equivalence
between the attack and the defense. In People v. Escarlos, this Court held that the means employed by a person
invoking self-defense must be reasonably commensurate to the nature and the extent of the attack sought to be
averted. In Sienes v. People, we considered the nature and number of wounds inflicted on the victim as important
indicia material to a plea for self-defense.

Same; Same; Same; Since the petitioners plea of self-defense lacks only the element of reasonable means,
the petitioner is, therefore, entitled to the privileged mitigating circumstance of incomplete self-defense. Since the
petitioner's plea of self-defense lacks only the element of "reasonable means", the petitioner is, therefore, entitled
to the privileged mitigating circumstance of incomplete self-defense. Consequently, the penalty for homicide may
be lowered by one or two degrees, at the discretion of the court.

Penalties; To determine the minimum od the indeterminate penalty, prision mayor has to be reduced by
one degree without taking into account the attendant modifying circumstances. To determine the minimum of
the indeterminate penalty, prision mayor has to be reduced by one degree without taking into account the
attendant modifying circumstances. The penalty lower by one degree is prision correccional whose range is from 6
months and 1 day to 6 years. The trial court is given the widest discretion to fix the minimum of the indeterminate
penalty provided that such penalty is within the range of prision correccional.

[G.R. Nos. 156399-400. June 27, 2008.]

VICTOR JOSE TAN UY, petitioner, vs. OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
SANDIGANBAYAN (SPECIAL DIVISION), CARLOS S. CAACBAY OF THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION,
ROMEO T. CAPULONG, LEONARD DE VERA, AND DENNIS B. FUNA, respondents.

Certiorari; Words and Phrases; Grave Abuse of Discretion; The grave abuse of discretion as defined by
jurisprudence is the capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, or an
exercise of power in an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, or an exercise of
judgment so patent and gross as to amount to an envasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the
duty enjoined, or to act in a manner not at all in contemplation of law. We clarify at the outset that the present
petition is filed under Section 1, Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court whose scope of review is limited to the
question: was the order by the tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial or quasi judicial functions rendered
without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of or excess of jurisdiction?
The "grave abuse of discretion" that the petitioner alleges in this case is defined by jurisprudence to be a
"capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction, or [an] exercise of power in
an arbitrary and despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, or an exercise of judgment so patent
and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined, or to
act in a manner not at all in contemplation of law."

Due Process; Criminal Procedure; Preliminary Investigations; The right to have preliminary investigation
conducted before being bound for trial and before being exposed to the risk of incarceration and penalty is not a
mere formal or technical right it is a substantial right; To deny the accuseds claim to a preliminary investigation is
to deprive him of the full measure of his rights to due process. A preliminary investigation is held before an
accused is placed on trial to secure the innocent against hasty, malicious, and oppressive prosecution; to protect
him from an open and public accusation of a crime, as well as from the trouble, expenses, and anxiety of a public
trial. It is also intended to protect the state from having to conduct useless and expensive trials. While the right is
statutory rather than constitutional, it is a component of due process in administering criminal justice. The right to
have a preliminary investigation conducted before being bound for trial and before being exposed to the risk of
incarceration and penalty is not a mere formal or technical right; it is a substantive right. To deny the accused's
claim to a preliminary investigation is to deprive him of the full measure of his right to due process.

Same; Same; Same; As in a court proceeding, albeit with appropriate adjustments because it is essentially
an administrative proceeding in which the prosecutor or investigating officer is a quasi-judicial officer by the nature
of his functions, a preliminary investigation is subject to the requirements of both substantive and procedural due
process; The level of scrutiny that must be made in preliminary investigation is sufficient proof of the guilt of the
accused so that when the case is tried, the trial court may not br bound as a matter of law to order an acquittal.
As in a court proceeding (albeit with appropriate adjustments because it is essentially still an administrative
proceeding in which the prosecutor or investigating officer is a quasi-judicial officer by the nature of his functions),
a preliminary investigation is subject to the requirements of both substantive and procedural due process. This
view may be less strict in its formulation than what we held in Cojuangco, Jr. v. PCGG, et al. (1990) when we said: It
must be undertaken in accordance with the procedure provided in Section 3, Rule 112 of the 1985 Rules of
Criminal Procedure. This procedure is to be observed in order to assure that a person undergoing such preliminary
investigation will be afforded due process. xxx Although such a preliminary investigation is not a trial and is not
intended to usurp the function of the trial court, it is not a casual affair. The officer conducting the same
investigates or inquires into the facts concerning the commission of the crime with the end in view of determining
whether or not an information may be prepared against the accused. Indeed, a preliminary investigation is in
effect a realistic judicial appraisal of the merits of the case. Sufficient proof of the guilt of the accused must be
adduced so that when the case is tried, the trial court may not be bound as a matter of law to order an acquittal. A
preliminary investigation has then been called a judicial inquiry. It is a judicial proceeding. An act becomes judicial
when there is opportunity to be heard and for the production and weighing of evidence, and a decision is rendered
thereon. But we commonly recognize the need for the observance of due process. We likewise fully agree with
Cojuangco in terms of the level of scrutiny that must be made we do not expect the rigorous standards of a
criminal trial, but "[s]ufficient proof of the guilt of the accused must be adduced so that when the case is tried, the
trial court may not be bound as a matter of law to order an acquittal."

Same; Same; Ang Tibay Doctrine; Ang TIbay v. Court of Industrial Relations, 69 Phil. 625 (1940), defines the
basic die process safeguards in administrative proceedings that the decision (by an administrative body) must be
rendered on the evidence presented at the hearing, or at least contained in the record and disclosed to the parties
affected; Only by confining the administrative tribunal to the evidence disclosed to the parties, can the latter be
protected in their right to know and meet the case against them. In light of the due process requirement, the
standards that at the very least assume great materiality and significance are those enunciated in the leading case
of Ang Tibay v. Court of Industrial Relations. This case instructively tells us in defining the basic due process
safeguards in administrative proceedings that the decision (by an administrative body) must be rendered on the
evidence presented at the hearing, or at least contained in the record and disclosed to the parties affected; only by
confining the administrative tribunal to the evidence disclosed to the parties, can the latter be protected in their
right to know and meet the case against them; it should not, however, detract from the tribunal's duty to actively
see that the law is enforced, and for that purpose, to use the authorized legal methods of securing evidence and
informing itself of facts material and relevant to the controversy.
Same; Same; In the hierarchy of rights, the Bill of Rights takes precedence over the right if the State to
prosecute, and when weighed against each other, the scales of justice tilt towards the former. We cannot agree
with the Ombudsman's position that the petitioner should controvert the identification documents because they
already form part of the records of the preliminary investigation, having been introduced in various incidents of
Crim. Case No. 26558 then pending with the Sandiganbayan. The rule closest to a definition of the inter-
relationship between records of a preliminary investigation and the criminal case to which it relates is Section 8
(b), Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Court which provides that the record of the preliminary investigation,
whether conducted by a judge or a prosecutor, shall not form part of the record of the case; the court, on its own
initiative or on motion of any party, may order the production of the record or any of its parts when necessary in
the resolution of the case or any incident therein, or when it is introduced as an evidence in the case by the
requesting party. This rule, however, relates to the use of preliminary investigation records in the criminal case; no
specific provision in the Rules exists regarding the reverse situation. We are thus guided in this regard by the basic
due process requirement that the right to know and to meet a case requires that a person be fully informed of the
pertinent and material facts unique to the inquiry to which he is called as a party respondent. Under this
requirement, reasonable opportunity to contest evidence as critical as the identification documents should have
been given the petitioner at the Sandiganbayan-ordered preliminary investigation as part of the facts he must
controvert; otherwise, there is nothing to controvert as the burden of evidence lies with the one who asserts that a
probable cause exists. The Ombudsman's failure in this regard tainted its findings of probable cause with grave
abuse of discretion that effectively nullifies them. We cannot avoid this conclusion under the constitutional truism
that in the hierarchy of rights, the Bill of Rights takes precedence over the right of the State to prosecute, and when
weighed against each other, the scales of justice tilt towards the former.

[G.R. No. 149787. June 18, 2008.]

JUDGE ANTONIO C. SUMALJAG, petitioner, vs. SPOUSES DIOSDIDIT and MENENDEZ M. LITERATO; and
MICHAELES MAGLASANG RODRIGO, respondents.

Civil Law; Substitution of Parties; The heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be substituted for the
deceased, without requiring the appointment of an executor or administrator and the court may appoint a
guardian ad litem for the minor heirs. The rule on substitution in case of death of a party is governed by Section
16, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, which provides: Section 16.Death of a party; duty of
counsel. Whenever a party to a pending action dies, and the claim is not thereby extinguished, it shall be the
duty of his counsel to inform the court within thirty (30) days after such death of the fact thereof, and to give the
name and address of his legal representative or representatives. Failure of counsel to comply with this duty shall
be a ground for disciplinary action. The heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be substituted for the deceased,
without requiring the appointment of an executor or administrator and the court may appoint a guardian ad
litem for the minor heirs.

Same; Property; Actions; Since the questions involved in these cases relate property and property rights,
then we are dealing with actions that survive so that Section 16, Rule 3 must necessarily apply. A question
preliminary to the application of the above provision is whether Civil Case Nos. B-1239 and B-1281 are actions that
survive the death of Josefa. We said in Gonzalez v. Pagcor (2004): "The criteria for determining whether an action
survives the death of a plaintiff or petitioner was elucidated upon in Bonilla v. Barcena (71 SCRA 491 (1976)) as
follows: . . . The question as to whether an action survives or not depends on the nature of the action and the
damage sued for. In the causes of action which survive, the wrong complained [of] affects primarily and principally
property and property rights, the injuries to the person being merely incidental, while in the causes of action which
do not survive, the injury complained of is to the person, the property and rights of property affected being
incidental. . . . Since the question involved in these cases relate to property and property rights, then we are
dealing with actions that survive so that Section 16, Rule 3 must necessarily apply.

Same; Legal Representatives; Words and Phrases; The legal representatives that the provision speaks of,
refer to those authorized by law the administrator, executor or guardian who, under the rule on settlement of
estate if deceased persons, is constituted to take over the estate of the deceased. The reporting issue that goes
into the core of this case is whether counsel properly gave the court the name and address of the legal
representative of the deceased that Section 16, Rule 3 specifies. We rule that he did not. The "legal
representatives" that the provision speaks of, refer to those authorized by law the administrator, executor or
guardian who, under the rule on settlement of estate of deceased persons, is constituted to take over the estate of
the deceased. Section 16, Rule 3 likewise expressly provides that "the heirs of the deceased may be allowed to be
substituted for the deceased, without requiring the appointment of an executor or administrator . . .". Significantly,
the person now the present petitioner that counsel gave as substitute was not one of those mentioned under
Section 16, Rule 3. Rather, he is a counterclaim co-defendant of the deceased whose proferred * justification for
the requested substitution is the transfer to him of the interests of the deceased in the litigation prior to her
death.

Same; Same; For the protection of the interests of the decedent, this Court has in previous instances
recognized the heirs as proper representatives of the decedent, even when there is already an administrator
appointed by the court. We likewise said in Gochan v. Young (2001): For the protection of the interests of the
decedent, this Court has in previous instances recognized the heirs as proper representatives of the decedent,
even when there is already an administrator appointed by the court. When no administrator has been appointed,
as in this case, there is all the more reason to recognize the heirs as the proper representatives of the deceased.

Same; Same; Josefas death certificate shows that she was single at the time of her death. The records do
not show that she left a will. Therefore, as correctly held by the Court if Appeals, in applying Section 16, Rule 3, her
heirs are her surviving sisters (x x x x) and the children of her deceased sister, Lourdes (x x x) who should be her
legal representatives. Josefa's death certificate shows that she was single at the time of her death. The records do
not show that she left a will. Therefore, as correctly held by the CA, in applying Section 16, Rule 3, her heirs are her
surviving sisters (Michaelis, Maria, Zosima, and Consolacion) and the children of her deceased sister, Lourdes
(Manuel, Cesar, Huros and Regulo) who should be her legal representatives. Menendez, although also a sister,
should be excluded for being one of the adverse parties in the cases before the RTC.

[G.R. No. 174479. June 17, 2008.]

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. ZALDY GARCIA y ANCHETA, accused-appellant.

Criminal Law; Circumstantial Evidence; In the absence of direct evidence, the prosecution may present
circumstantial evidence that, under the given conditions, may meet the evidentiary standard of proof beyond
reasonable doubt in criminal cases. In the absence of direct evidence, the prosecution may present
circumstantial evidence that, under given conditions, may meet the evidentiary standard of "proof beyond
reasonable doubt" in criminal cases. Circumstantial evidence is sufficient for conviction if: 1) there is more than
one circumstance; 2) the facts from which the inferences are derived are proven; and 3) the combination of all the
circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond reasonable doubt. The conclusions that can be drawn
from the chain of proven circumstances rather than their number are material to prove the guilt of the accused.
What is paramount is that facts be proven from which inferences may be drawn with all the circumstances
being consistent with one other that the accused is guilty and this inference is consistent with no other
conclusion except that of guilt.

Same; Same; the prolonged negotiations alone showed lack of concern and repentance traits and
reactions inconsistent with the claimed accidental shooting. The appellant's contention that he accidentally pulled
the trigger of the gun out of nervousness deserves scant consideration. His conduct after shooting Opina belies this
claim. First, appellant traded shots with SPO4 Oria immediately after Major Opina was hit. The testimonies of
SPO4 Oria himself and the other police witnesses, supported by physical evidence of the empty 9mm bullet shells
recovered from the appellant's house, attest to the exchange of gunfire. A man who shoots another by accident
would have been concerned with the consequences of the accident and does not immediately trade shots with the
shooting victim's companion. Second, the appellant was fully and adequately armed to do battle, as shown by the
gun magazines and ammunition he subsequently surrendered. It is hard to picture a man so armed and who had
traded shots with the police to be one who would accidentally shoot another. Finally, a man who accidentally
shoots another does not resist and fail to surrender for an extended time. The prolonged negotiations alone
showed lack of concern and repentance traits and reactions inconsistent with the claimed accidental shooting.
Thus, based on conclusions from the established facts, we rule out the validity of the appellant's claim of
accidental shooting.

Same; Aggravating Circumstances; Treachery; There is treachery when the offender commits any of the
crimes against persons, employing means, method or forms which tend directly and especially to ensure its
execution, without risk to the offender, arising from the defense that the offended party might take. There is
treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against persons, employing means, method or forms
which tend directly and especially to ensure its execution, without risk to the offender, arising from the defense
that the offended party might make.

Same; Same; Conditions to Constitute Treachery. To constitute treachery, two conditions must concur:
(1) the employment of means, methods or manner of execution that would ensure the offender's safety from any
defense or retaliatory act on the part of the offended party; and (2) the offender's deliberate or conscious choice
of the means, method or manner of execution. The appellant seeks to negate these elements of treachery by
claiming to have acted out of fear and nervousness; he was allegedly under these stresses because persons who
were armed, dressed in civilian clothes and who did not identify themselves as members of the police, scaled his
fence. He simply reacted to the intrusion and had no plan to shoot one of those who so approached his house.
Hence, he concludes that there was no treachery and the killing could not have been attended by this qualifying
circumstance. He posits that the court a quo should have recognized all these.

Same; Mitigating Circumstances; Voluntary Surrender; The essence of voluntary surrender is spontaneity
and the intent of the accused to give himself up and submit himself unconditionally to the authorities either
because he acknowledges his guilt or he wishes to save the authorities the trouble and expense that may be
incurred for his search and capture. The essence of voluntary surrender is spontaneity and the intent of the
accused to give himself up and submit himself unconditionally to the authorities either because he acknowledges
his guilt or he wishes to save the authorities the trouble and expense that may be incurred for his search and
capture. Without these reasons and where the clear reasons for the supposed surrender is the inevitability of
arrest and the need to ensure his safety, the surrender cannot be spontaneous and cannot be the "voluntary
surrender" that serves as a mitigating circumstance.
Aggravating Circumstances; The proven use of an unlicensed firearm adds an aggravating circumstance to
the crime pursuant to Republic Act No. 8294 and its established jurisprudence. The crime committed by the
appellant is murder qualified by treachery penalized under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code (as amended by
Republic Act No. 7659) with reclusion perpetua to death. The proven use of an unlicensed firearm adds an
aggravating circumstance to the crime pursuant to Republic Act No. 8294 and its established jurisprudence.
Consequently, the CA did not err when it upheld the trial court's imposition of the death penalty under Article 63
(1) of the Revised Penal Code.

Damages; Earning Capacity Loss; Computation of Net Earning Capacity Loss. The records show that
Major Opina's annual gross income was P154,800.00 per annum computed from his monthly rate of P12,900.00 a
month. His reasonable and necessary living expenses are estimated at 50% of this gross income, leaving a balance
of P77,400.00. His life expectancy, on the other hand, is assumed to be 2/3 of age 80 less 31, his age at the time he
died. Applied to the above formula, these data yield the net earning capacity loss to be indemnified at
P2,554,200.00. The CA award must thus be reduced to this amount. With respect to actual damages, established
jurisprudence allows only expenses duly supported by receipts. It appears that out of the P126,000.00 awarded by
the trial court, only P64,075.00 was actually supported by the required receipts. The difference represents the
amounts based solely on the unreceipted submissions by Major Opina's mother. Thus, we affirm the indemnity for
actual damages of P64,075.00 that the CA awarded.

[G.R. No. 182484. June 17, 2008.]

DANIEL MASANGKAY TAPUZ, AURORA TAPUZ-MADRIAGA, LIBERTY M. ASUNCION, LADYLYN BAMOS


MADRIAGA, EVERLY TAPUZ MADRIAGA, EXCEL TAPUZ, IVAN TAPUZ AND MARIAN TIMBAS, petitioners, vs.
HONORABLE JUDGE ELMO DEL ROSARIO, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of RTC Br. 5 Kalibo, SHERIFF NELSON
DELA CRUZ, in his capacity as Sheriff of the RTC, THE PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE stationed in Boracay Island,
represented by the PNP STATION COMMANDER, THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS IN CEBU 18th DIVISION,
SPOUSES GREGORIO SANSON & MA. LOURDES T. SANSON, respondents.

Forum Shopping; Forum shopping trifles with the courts, abuses their processes, degrades the
administration of justice and congest court dockets. Willful and deliberate violation of the rule against it is a ground
for summary dismissal of the case, it may also constitute direct contempt. To restate the prevailing rules, "forum
shopping is the institution of two or more actions or proceedings involving the same parties for the same cause of
action, either simultaneously or successively, on the supposition that one or the other court would make a
favorable disposition. Forum shopping may be resorted to by any party against whom an adverse judgment or
order has been issued in one forum, in an attempt to seek a favorable opinion in another, other than by appeal or
a special civil action for certiorari. Forum shopping trifles with the courts, abuses their processes, degrades the
administration of justice and congest court dockets. Willful and deliberate violation of the rule against it is a
ground for summary dismissal of the case; it may also constitute direct contempt." Additionally, the required
verification and certification of non-forum shopping is defective as one (1) of the seven (7) petitioners Ivan
Tapuz did not sign, in violation of Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 7; Section 3, Rule 46; Section 1, Rule 65; all in relation
with Rule 56 of the Revised Rules of Court. Of those who signed, only five (5) exhibited their postal identification
cards with the Notary Public.

Writ of Amparo; The Writ of Amparo, Explained. To start off with the basics, the writ of amparo was
originally conceived as a response to the extraordinary rise in the number of killings and enforced disappearances,
and to the perceived lack of available and effective remedies to address these extraordinary concerns. It is
intended to address violations of or threats to the rights to life, liberty or security, as an extraordinary and
independent remedy beyond those available under the prevailing Rules, or as a remedy supplemental to these
Rules. What it is not, is a writ to protect concerns that are purely property or commercial. Neither is it a writ that
we shall issue on amorphous and uncertain grounds. Consequently, the Rule on the Writ of Amparo in line with
the extraordinary character of the writ and the reasonable certainty that its issuance demands requires that
every petition for the issuance of the writ must be supported by justifying allegations of fact.

Same; The writ shall issue if the Court is preliminary satisfied with prima facie existence of the ultimate
facts determinable form the supporting affidavits that detail the circumstances of how and to what extent a threat
to or violation of the rights to life, liberty and security of the aggrieved party was or is being committed. The writ
shall issue if the Court is preliminarily satisfied with the prima facie existence of the ultimate facts determinable
from the supporting affidavits that detail the circumstances of how and to what extent a threat to or violation of
the rights to life, liberty and security of the aggrieved party was or is being committed. The issuance of the writ of
amparo in the present case is anchored on the factual allegations heretofore quoted, that are essentially repeated
in paragraph 54 of the petition.

Same; If the petitioners wish to seek redress and hold alleged perpetrators criminally accountable, the
remedy may lie more in the realm of ordinary criminal prosecution rather than on the use of the extraordinary
remedy of the writ of amparo. Under these legal and factual situations, we are far from satisfied with the prima
facie existence of the ultimate facts that would justify the issuance of a writ of amparo. Rather than acts of
terrorism that pose a continuing threat to the persons of the petitioners, the violent incidents alleged appear to us
to be purely property-related and focused on the disputed land. Thus, if the petitioners wish to seek redress and
hold the alleged perpetrators criminally accountable, the remedy may lie more in the realm of ordinary criminal
prosecution rather than on the use of the extraordinary remedy of the writ of amparo.

Same; The writ of amparo, particularly, should not issue when applied for as substitute for the appeal or
certiorari process, or when it will inordinately interfere with these processes the situation obtaining in the present
case. Separately from these considerations, we cannot fail but consider too at this point the indicators, clear and
patent to us, that the petitioners' present recourse via the remedy of the writ of amparo is a mere subterfuge to
negate the assailed orders that the petitioners sought and failed to nullify before the appellate court because of
the use of an improper remedial measure. We discern this from the petitioners' misrepresentations pointed out
above; from their obvious act of forum shopping; and from the recourse itself to the extraordinary remedies of the
writs of certiorari and amparo based on grounds that are far from forthright and sufficiently compelling. To be
sure, when recourses in the ordinary course of law fail because of deficient legal representation or the use of
improper remedial measures, neither the writ of certiorari nor that of amparo extraordinary though they may
be will suffice to serve as a curative substitute. The writ of amparo, particularly, should not issue when applied
for as a substitute for the appeal or certiorari process, or when it will inordinately interfere with these processes
the situation obtaining in the present case. While we say all these, we note too that the Rule on the Writ of
Amparo provides for rules on the institution of separate actions, for the effect of earlier-filed criminal actions, and
for the consolidation of petitions for the issuance of a writ of amparo with a subsequently filed criminal and civil
action. These rules were adopted to promote an orderly procedure for dealing with petitions for the issuance of
the writ of amparo when the parties resort to other parallel recourses.

Writ of Habeas Data; Section 6 of the Rule of the Writ of Habeas Data requires the following material
allegations of ultimate facts in a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas data. Section 6 of the Rule on the
Writ of Habeas Data requires the following material allegations of ultimate facts in a petition for the issuance of a
writ of habeas data: "(a)The personal circumstances of the petitioner and the respondent; (b)The manner the right
to privacy is violated or threatened and how it affects the right to life, liberty or security of the aggrieved party;
(c)The actions and recourses taken by the petitioner to secure the data or information; (d)The location of the
files, registers or databases, the government office, and the person in charge, in possession or in control of the
data or information, if known; (e)The reliefs prayed for, which may include the updating, rectification, suppression
or destruction of the database or information or files kept by the respondent. In case of threats, the relief may
include a prayer for an order enjoining the act complained of; and (f)Such other relevant reliefs as are just and
equitable."

Same; Allegations obviously lack what the Rule on Writ of Habeas Date requires as a minimum, thus
rendering the petition fatally deficient. These allegations obviously lack what the Rule on Writ of Habeas Data
requires as a minimum, thus rendering the petition fatally deficient. Specifically, we see no concrete allegations of
unjustified or unlawful violation of the right to privacy related to the right to life, liberty or security. The petition
likewise has not alleged, much less demonstrated, any need for information under the control of police authorities
other than those it has already set forth as integral annexes. The necessity or justification for the issuance of the
writ, based on the insufficiency of previous efforts made to secure information, has not also been shown. In sum,
the prayer for the issuance of a writ of habeas data is nothing more than the "fishing expedition" that this Court
in the course of drafting the Rule on habeas data had in mind in defining what the purpose of a writ of habeas
data is not. In these lights, the outright denial of the petition for the issuance of the writ of habeas data is fully in
order.