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PEOPLE v.

BAYABOS

KEYWORDS: Hazing; PMMA Philippine Merchant Marine Academy; Indoctrination and


Orientation Period

FACTS

Fernando Balidoy was admitted as a probationary midshipman at the Philippine Merchant Marine
Academy (PMMA). To reach the active status, all new entrants were required to successfully
complete the mandatory Indoctrination and Orientation Period which was from May 2 June 1,
2001. Balidoy died on May 3, 2001.

The NBI investigated the death of Balidoy and forwarded its findings to the provincial prosecutor
of Zambales for the preliminary investigation and possible criminal prosecution of those involved.
The Assistant Provincial Prosecutor found probable cause to charge the principals and accomplices
(the accomplices are the respondents in this case) to the crime of hazing. A criminal case was filed
against the principals. The Ombudsman-Investigator agreed with the findings of the Assistant
Provincial Prosecutor and the case was re-docketed for the purpose of conducting proper
administrative proceedings against respondents for grave misconduct and abuse of authority. The
Office of the Special Prosecutor also filed in Sandiganbayan a criminal case charging respondents
as accomplices to the crime of hazing.

RTC-Zambales issued an Order dismissing the Information against the principal accused.
Respondents (Accomplices) filed a Motion to Quash the Information arguing that the Information
did not contain all the essential elements of the offense, there was no allegation that the purported
act had been made a prerequisite for admission to the PMMA, and there was no averment in the
Information that the PMMA was a fraternity, a sorority, or an organization. There was also nothing
in the Information stating that the alleged hazing was not part of the physical, mental, and
psychological testing and training of regular members. There was also no allegation that the
accomplices were given prior written notice of the hazing and that they had permitted the activity.

The case against the principal accused had already been dismissed with finality by the RTC. As
such, the accomplices argue that there being no more principals with whom they could have
cooperated with, the case against them should be dismissed.

The Special Prosecutor, on the other hand, argues that the Information alleges the material facts
that would sufficiently establish the presence of the essential ingredients of the crime of
accomplice to hazing. He was, however, silent on the issue of whether the Information contained
an allegation that the supposed hazing had been made a prerequisite for the admisision to the
PMMA, and whether the academy is considered an organization within the meaning of the Anti-
Hazing Law.

The Sandiganbayan found that the Information charged no offense, and that the allegations therein
were mere conclusions of law. There was also no averment that the alleged hazing was not part of
the physical, mental, and psychological fitness of prospective regular members of the AFP and
the PNP pursuant to Sec. 1 of the law. However, the SB did not make any categorical determination
that the PMMA was considered an organization within the meaning of the Anti-Hazing Law.
ISSUE

W/N the Information filed against Respondents contains all the material averments for the
prosecution of the crime of accomplice to hazing under the Anti-Hazing Law? NO

W/N Motion to Quash Information should be granted? YES

HELD

Section 14, Art III, of the Constitution recognizes the right of the accused to be informed of the
nature and cause of the accusation against him. In line with this, the Rules of Court requires that
the Information charging persons with an offense be sufficient.

To be considered as sufficient Information, there must be a statement of the acts or ommissions


constituting the offense charged, subject of the complaint. It must be in ordinary language and
concise enough to enable persons of common understanding to know the offense being charged
against them so that they can properly prepare for their defense (they are presumed to have no
independent knowledge of the facts constituting the offense they have purportedly committed).
The information need not be in the same language as the law relied upon.

SECTION 3, RULE 117 OF THE RULES OF COURT enumerates the grounds for which an
Information may be assailed. This must be done any time before the plea is entered. One of the
grounds for assailing the Information is that the facts charged do not constitute an offense. The
test to know whether the Information must be quashed on that ground is to determine if the facts
averred would establish the presence of the essential elements of the crime as defined in the law.
The truth of the information is not taken into consideration.

The Court rejects the Respondents contention that the PMMA should not be considered an
organization. Under the Anti-Hazing Law, the term organization includes but is not limited to
groups, teams, frats, soros, citizen army training corps, educ institutions, clubs, societies,
cooperatives, companies, partnerships, corporations, PNP, and AFP. The PMMA is attached to the
DOTC and is a government-owned educational institution. It is thus included in the term
organization within the meaning of the law.

The Court also disagrees with the Sandiganbayan ruling that the Information should be quashed
for failure to allege that the purported acts were not covered by the exemption relating to the duly
recommended and approved testing and training procedure and practices for prospective regular
members of the AFP and thePNP.

This exemption is an AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE in, and NOT AN ESSENTIAL ELEMENT


of, the crime of accomplice to hazing. It is an assertion that must be claimed by the accused and
not by the prosecution (burden of proof is on the accused to show that they have satisfied the
requirements of such exemption). Thus, the prosecutions failure to point that out in the
Information will not justify the quashal.

However, the Motion to Quash should be granted as the Information does not include all the
material facts constituting the crime of accomplice to hazing.
The Information merely states that psychological pain and physical injuries were inflicted on the
victim. There is no allegation that the purported acts were employed as a prerequisite for admission
or entry into the organization (element stated in the Anti-Hazing Law). Failure to include this
would prevent the successful prosecution of the criminal responsibility of the accused, either as
principal or accomplice, for the crime of hazing. Plain reference to a technical term (hazing) is
insufficient and incomplete because it is only a characterization of the acts allegedly committed
and thus a mere conclusion of law.

SECTION 6, RULE 110 OF THE RULES OF COURT expressly states that the information
must include both the designation of the offense given by the statute and the acts or
omissions complained of as constituting the offense.

The Special Prosecutors belated argument in his Petition before this Court that the successful
completion of the indoctrination and orientation program was used as a prereq for continued
admission to the academy does not cure the defect in the Information. As such, the Information
must be quashed. The facts presented do not constitute the crime of accomplice to hazing.

SECTION 4, RULE 117 OF THE RULES OF COURT provides that if a motion to quash is
based on the ground that the facts charged do not constitute an offense, the court shall give
the prosecution a chance to correct the defect by amendment. However, it also states that if
the prosecution fails to amend it, the motion to quash shall be granted.

In this case, the Special Prosecutor insisted in his Comment on the Motion to Quash that there was
no defect in the Information. Neither has he filed a new Information after the motion was sustained,
pursuant to Sec 5, Rule 117. Thus, the Sandiganbayan was correct in ordering the quashal of the
Information and the dismissal of the case.

However, the Special Prosecutor is not precluded from filing another information. An order
sustaining a motion to quash would not bar another prosecution (Sec 6, Rule 117) unless double
jeopardy has attached.