You are on page 1of 80

Page 1 of 80

Contents
1. People vs quizon.....................................................1
2. Ivler vs judge san pedro......................................3
3. People vs agliday..................................................12
4. Pangoronom vs people (NF).............................16
5. Carillo vs people....................................................16
6. Reodica vs ca..........................................................26
7. Garcia-rueda vs pascasio...................................33
8. Reyes vs sister of mercy hospital...................36
9. Varquez vs ca.........................................................43
10. Fortich vs ca.........................................................49
11. Flor v people........................................................52
12. Navarette vs ca...................................................57
13. Borjal vs ca...........................................................61
14. People vs velasco (NF).....................................71
15. Ayer productions vs capulong........................71
16.Larobis vs CA.........................................................78

1. People vs quizon FRANCISCO QUIZON, petitioner,


vs.
G.R. No. L-6641 July 28, 1955 THE HON. JUSTICE OF THE PEACE OF
BACOLOR, PAMPANGA, ET AL., respondents.

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 2 of 80

Moises Sevilla Ocampo and Pedro S. David for than six months, or a fine of more than two has jurisdiction over cases of malicious mischief, is
petitioner. hundred pesos: to assume that the former offense is but a variant
Office of the Solicitor General Juan R. Liwag and of the latter. This assumption is not legally
Assistant Solicitor General Francisco Carreon for Section 87 of said Acts reads as follows:. warranted.
respondents.
Original jurisdiction to try criminal cases. Article 327 of the Revised Penal Code is as follows:
REYES, J. B. L., J.: Justices of the peace and judges of
municipal courts of chartered cities shall ART. 327. Who are liable for malicious
On December 19, 1952, the respondents Chief of have original jurisdiction over: mischief.Any person who shall deliberately
Police of Bacolor, Pampanga, filed a criminal cause to the property of another any
complaint against the herein petitioner, Francisco (c) All criminal cases arising under the laws damage not falling within the terms of the
Quizon, with the Justice of the Peace Court of said relating to: next preceding chapter shall be guilty of
municipality charging Quizon with the crime of malicious mischief.
damage to property through reckless imprudence, (6) Malicious mischief;.
the value of the damage amounting to P125.00. It has always been regarded of the essence of this
Quizon filed a motion to quash on the ground that, felony that the offender should have not only the
In the cases of People vs. Palmon, 86 Phil.,
under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, the general intention to carry out the felonious act (a
350; People vs. Peas Y Ferrer and Rey y
penalty which might be imposed on the accused feature common to all willful crimes) but that he
Rochas, 86 Phil., 596; and Natividad, et al. vs.
would be a fine or from P125.00 to P375.00, which should act under the impulse of a specific desire to
Robles, 87 Phil.,, 834, it was held that in the cases
is in excess of the fine that may be imposed by the inflict injury to another; "que en el hecho concurra
provided for in Section 87 (c) of the Judiciary Act of
justice of the peace court. The Justice of the Peace animo especifico de daar"(Cuello Calon, Der. Penal
1948 above quoted, the jurisdiction given to
forwarded the case to the Court of First Instance of [6th Ed.] Vol. II, p. 869; Sent. of Tribunal Supreme
justices of the peace and judges of the municipal
Pampanga, but the latter returned it to him for trial of Spain, 21 Dec. 1909; 12 Feb. 1921).
courts is not exclusive but concurrent with the
on the merits, holding that the justice of the peace
courts of first instance, when the penalty to be
court had jurisdiction. The defendant appealed from El elemento interno de este delito require,
imposed is more than six months imprisonment or a
this ruling of the Court of First Instance to this ademas de la voluntad de ejecutar el hecho
fine of more than P200.00.
Court on the question of law raised. daoso y de la conciencia de su ilegitimidad,
The question, therefore , is whether the justice of el animo de perjudicar, la intencion de
Section 44 of the Judiciary Act of 1948 (Republic daar. Si no existe semejante animo el
the peace court has concurrent jurisdiction with the
Act No. 296) provides in part as follows: hecho no constituey delito. (II Cuello Calon,
court of First Instance when the crime charged is
damage to property through reckless negligence or p.870-871).
Original jurisdiction.Courts of First imprudence if the amount of the damage is P125.
Instance shall have original jurisdiction: The necessity of the special malice for the crime of
We believe that the answer should be in the malicious mischief is contained in the requirement
(f) In all criminal cases in which the penalty negative. To hold that the Justice of the Peace of Art. 327 of our Revised Penal Code, already
provided by law is imprisonment for more Court has jurisdiction to try cases of damage to quoted, that the offender "shall deliberately cause
property through reckless negligence, because it to the property of another any damage not falling

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 3 of 80

within the terms of the next preceding chapter", penalty therefor, then it would be absorbed in the both. To this traditional jurisdiction, the Judiciary
i.e., not punishable as arson. It follows that, in the mitigating circumstances of Art. 13, specially the Act added eight (8) specific exceptions in the form
very nature of things, malicious mischief can not be lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong as the of felonies triable in said courts without reference to
committed through negligence, one actually committed. Furthermore, the theory the penalty imposable; and malicious mischief is
since culpa (negligence) and malice ( or would require that the corresponding penalty should one of these exceptions, while imprudence resulting
deliberateness) are essentially incompatible. Hence, be fixed in proportion to the penalty prescribed for in damage to property is not one of them.
the Supreme Court of Spain in its decisions of 12 each crime when committed willfully. For each
Feb. 1912, 7 Oct. 1931, 13 Nov. 1934 and 5 Oct. penalty for the willful offense, there would then be For the foregoing reasons, we declare that the
1942, has expressly recognized that this crime is a corresponding penalty for the negligent variety. jurisdiction over the offense in question lies
one of those that can not be committed by But instead, our Revised Penal Code (Art. 365) fixes exclusively in the Court of First Instance. Hence,
imprudence or negligence. the penalty for reckless imprudence at arresto the writ of certiorari is granted and the order of
mayor maximum, to prision correccional minimum, remand to the Justice of the Peace Court is
The proposition (inferred from Art. 3 of the Revised if the willful act would constitute a grave felony, reversed and set aside. Without pronouncement as
Penal Code) that "reckless imprudence" is not a notwithstanding that the penalty for the latter could to costs.
crime in itself but simply a way of committing it and range all the way from prision mayor to death,
merely determines a lower degree of criminal according to the case. It can be seen that the actual Bengzon, Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador and
liability" is too broad to deserve unqualified assent . penalty for criminal negligence bears no relation to Concepcion, JJ., concur.
There are crimes that by their structure can not be the individual willful crime, but is set in relation to a
committed through imprudence: murder, treason, whole class, or series, of crimes.
robbery, malicious mischief, etc. In truth, criminal
negligence in our Revised Penal Code is treated as a It is difficult to believe that the Legislature, in
mere quasi offense, and dealt with separately from giving Justices of the Peace jurisdiction to try cases
2. Ivler vs judge san pedro
willful offenses. It is not a mere question of of malicious mischief, did so in total disregard of the
classification or terminology. In international principles and considerations above outlined. Our
crimes, the act itself is punished; in negligence or conclusion is that "malicious mischief" as used in G.R. No. 172716 November 17, 2010
imprudence, what is principally penalized is the Section 87, par. 6, of the Judiciary Act, has
mental attitude or condition behind the act, the exclusive reference to the willful and deliberate JASON IVLER y AGUILAR, Petitioner,
dangerous recklessness, lack of care or foresight, crimes described in Arts. 327 to 331 of our Revised vs.
the imprudencia punible. Much of the confusion has Penal Code, and to no other offense. HON. MARIA ROWENA MODESTO-SAN PEDRO,
arisen from the common use of such descriptive Judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch
phrases as "homicide through reckless A further reason for this restrictive interpretation of 71, Pasig City, and EVANGELINE
imprudence," and the like; when the strict technical the term "malicious mischief" used in section 87 of PONCE, Respondents.
offense is, more accurately, "reckless imprudence the Judiciary Act, is that the same constitutes an
resulting in homicide"; or "simple imprudence exception to the general jurisdiction of the Justice DECISION
causing damages to property". of the Peace Courts in criminal cases, which had
always stood prior to the said Act at offenses CARPIO, J.:
Were criminal negligence but a modality in the punishable with not more than 6 months'
commission of felonies, operating only to reduce the imprisonment or a fine of not more than P200.00 or The Case

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 4 of 80

The petition seeks the review1 of the Orders2 of the After unsuccessfully seeking reconsideration, Petitioner denies absconding. He explains that his
Regional Trial Court of Pasig City affirming sub- petitioner elevated the matter to the Regional Trial petition in S.C.A. No. 2803 constrained him to
silencio a lower courts ruling finding inapplicable Court of Pasig City, Branch 157 (RTC), in a petition forego participation in the proceedings in Criminal
the Double Jeopardy Clause to bar a second for certiorari (S.C.A. No. 2803). Meanwhile, Case No. 82366. Petitioner distinguishes his case
prosecution for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in petitioner sought from the MeTC the suspension of from the line of jurisprudence sanctioning dismissal
Homicide and Damage to Property. This, despite the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366, including of appeals for absconding appellants because his
accuseds previous conviction for Reckless the arraignment on 17 May 2005, invoking S.C.A. appeal before the RTC was a special civil action
Imprudence Resulting in Slight Physical Injuries No. 2803 as a prejudicial question. Without acting seeking a pre-trial relief, not a post-trial appeal of a
arising from the same incident grounding the on petitioners motion, the MeTC proceeded with judgment of conviction.7
second prosecution. the arraignment and, because of petitioners
absence, cancelled his bail and ordered his Petitioner laments the RTCs failure to reach the
The Facts arrest.4 Seven days later, the MeTC issued a merits of his petition in S.C.A. 2803. Invoking
resolution denying petitioners motion to suspend jurisprudence, petitioner argues that his
Following a vehicular collision in August 2004, proceedings and postponing his arraignment until constitutional right not to be placed twice in
petitioner Jason Ivler (petitioner) was charged after his arrest.5 Petitioner sought reconsideration jeopardy of punishment for the same offense bars
before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Pasig City, but as of the filing of this petition, the motion his prosecution in Criminal Case No. 82366, having
Branch 71 (MeTC), with two separate offenses: (1) remained unresolved. been previously convicted in Criminal Case No.
Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Slight Physical 82367 for the same offense of reckless imprudence
Injuries (Criminal Case No. 82367) for injuries Relying on the arrest order against petitioner, charged in Criminal Case No. 82366. Petitioner
sustained by respondent Evangeline L. Ponce respondent Ponce sought in the RTC the dismissal submits that the multiple consequences of such
(respondent Ponce); and (2) Reckless Imprudence of S.C.A. No. 2803 for petitioners loss of standing crime are material only to determine his penalty.
Resulting in Homicide and Damage to Property to maintain the suit. Petitioner contested the
(Criminal Case No. 82366) for the death of motion. Respondent Ponce finds no reason for the Court to
respondent Ponces husband Nestor C. Ponce and disturb the RTCs decision forfeiting petitioners
damage to the spouses Ponces vehicle. Petitioner The Ruling of the Trial Court standing to maintain his petition in S.C.A. 2803. On
posted bail for his temporary release in both cases. the merits, respondent Ponce calls the Courts
In an Order dated 2 February 2006, the RTC attention to jurisprudence holding that light
On 7 September 2004, petitioner pleaded guilty to dismissed S.C.A. No. 2803, narrowly grounding its offenses (e.g. slight physical injuries) cannot be
the charge in Criminal Case No. 82367 and was ruling on petitioners forfeiture of standing to complexed under Article 48 of the Revised Penal
meted out the penalty of public censure. Invoking maintain S.C.A. No. 2803 arising from the MeTCs Code with grave or less grave felonies (e.g.
this conviction, petitioner moved to quash the order to arrest petitioner for his non-appearance at homicide). Hence, the prosecution was obliged to
Information in Criminal Case No. 82366 for placing the arraignment in Criminal Case No. 82366. Thus, separate the charge in Criminal Case No. 82366 for
him in jeopardy of second punishment for the same without reaching the merits of S.C.A. No. 2803, the the slight physical injuries from Criminal Case No.
offense of reckless imprudence. RTC effectively affirmed the MeTC. Petitioner sought 82367 for the homicide and damage to property.
reconsideration but this proved unavailing.6
The MeTC refused quashal, finding no identity of In the Resolution of 6 June 2007, we granted the
offenses in the two cases.3 Hence, this petition. Office of the Solicitor Generals motion not to file a
comment to the petition as the public respondent

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 5 of 80

judge is merely a nominal party and private dismiss the appeal if the appellant escapes from underscores the fact that mere non-appearance
respondent is represented by counsel. prison or confinement, jumps bail or flees to a does not ipso facto convert the accuseds status to
foreign country during the pendency of the appeal." that of a fugitive without standing.
The Issues The "appeal" contemplated in Section 8 of Rule 124
is a suit to review judgments of convictions. Further, the RTCs observation that petitioner
Two questions are presented for resolution: (1) provided "no explanation why he failed to attend
whether petitioner forfeited his standing to seek The RTCs dismissal of petitioners special civil the scheduled proceeding"12 at the MeTC is belied
relief in S.C.A. 2803 when the MeTC ordered his action for certiorari to review a pre-arraignment by the records. Days before the arraignment,
arrest following his non-appearance at the ancillary question on the applicability of the Due petitioner sought the suspension of the MeTCs
arraignment in Criminal Case No. 82366; and (2) if Process Clause to bar proceedings in Criminal Case proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366 in light of
in the negative, whether petitioners constitutional No. 82366 finds no basis under procedural rules his petition with the RTC in S.C.A. No. 2803.
right under the Double Jeopardy Clause bars further and jurisprudence. The RTCs reliance on People v. Following the MeTCs refusal to defer arraignment
proceedings in Criminal Case No. 82366. Esparas9 undercuts the cogency of its ruling (the order for which was released days after the
because Esparas stands for a proposition contrary MeTC ordered petitioners arrest), petitioner sought
The Ruling of the Court to the RTCs ruling. There, the Court granted review reconsideration. His motion remained unresolved as
to an appeal by an accused who was sentenced to of the filing of this petition.
death for importing prohibited drugs even though
We hold that (1) petitioners non-appearance at the
she jumped bail pending trial and was thus tried Petitioners Conviction in Criminal Case No. 82367
arraignment in Criminal Case No. 82366 did not
and convicted in absentia. The Court in Esparas Bars his Prosecution in Criminal Case No. 82366
divest him of personality to maintain the petition in
treated the mandatory review of death sentences
S.C.A. 2803; and (2) the protection afforded by the
under Republic Act No. 7659 as an exception to The accuseds negative constitutional right not to be
Constitution shielding petitioner from prosecutions
Section 8 of Rule 124.10 "twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same
placing him in jeopardy of second punishment for
the same offense bars further proceedings in offense"13protects him from, among others, post-
Criminal Case No. 82366. The mischief in the RTCs treatment of petitioners conviction prosecution for the same offense, with
non-appearance at his arraignment in Criminal Case the prior verdict rendered by a court of competent
No. 82366 as proof of his loss of standing becomes jurisdiction upon a valid information.14 It is not
Petitioners Non-appearance at the Arraignment in
more evident when one considers the Rules of disputed that petitioners conviction in Criminal
Criminal Case No. 82366 did not Divest him of
Courts treatment of a defendant who absents Case No. 82367 was rendered by a court of
Standing
himself from post-arraignment hearings. Under competent jurisdiction upon a valid charge. Thus,
to Maintain the Petition in S.C.A. 2803
Section 21, Rule 11411 of the Revised Rules of the case turns on the question whether Criminal
Criminal Procedure, the defendants absence merely Case No. 82366 and Criminal Case No. 82367
Dismissals of appeals grounded on the appellants renders his bondsman potentially liable on its bond involve the "same offense." Petitioner adopts the
escape from custody or violation of the terms of his (subject to cancellation should the bondsman fail to affirmative view, submitting that the two cases
bail bond are governed by the second paragraph of produce the accused within 30 days); the defendant concern the same offense of reckless imprudence.
Section 8, Rule 124,8 in relation to Section 1, Rule retains his standing and, should he fail to The MeTC ruled otherwise, finding that Reckless
125, of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure surrender, will be tried in absentia and could be Imprudence Resulting in Slight Physical Injuries is
authorizing this Court or the Court of Appeals to convicted or acquitted. Indeed, the 30-day period an entirely separate offense from Reckless
"also, upon motion of the appellee or motu proprio, granted to the bondsman to produce the accused Imprudence Resulting in Homicide and Damage to

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 6 of 80

Property "as the [latter] requires proof of an When the execution of the act covered by this Reckless imprudence consists in voluntary, but
additional fact which the other does not."15 article shall have only resulted in damage to the without malice, doing or failing to do an act from
property of another, the offender shall be punished which material damage results by reason of
We find for petitioner. by a fine ranging from an amount equal to the inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the
value of said damages to three times such value, person performing or failing to perform such act,
Reckless Imprudence is a Single Crime, but which shall in no case be less than twenty-five taking into consideration his employment or
its Consequences on Persons and pesos. occupation, degree of intelligence, physical
Property are Material Only to Determine condition and other circumstances regarding
the Penalty A fine not exceeding two hundred pesos and persons, time and place.
censure shall be imposed upon any person who, by
The two charges against petitioner, arising from the simple imprudence or negligence, shall cause some Simple imprudence consists in the lack of
same facts, were prosecuted under the same wrong which, if done maliciously, would have precaution displayed in those cases in which the
provision of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, constituted a light felony. damage impending to be caused is not immediate
namely, Article 365 defining and penalizing quasi- nor the danger clearly manifest.
offenses. The text of the provision reads: In the imposition of these penalties, the court shall
exercise their sound discretion, without regard to The penalty next higher in degree to those provided
Imprudence and negligence. Any person who, by the rules prescribed in Article sixty-four. for in this article shall be imposed upon the offender
reckless imprudence, shall commit any act which, who fails to lend on the spot to the injured parties
had it been intentional, would constitute a grave The provisions contained in this article shall not be such help as may be in this hand to give.
felony, shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in applicable:
its maximum period to prision correccional in its Structurally, these nine paragraphs are collapsible
medium period; if it would have constituted a less 1. When the penalty provided for the offense into four sub-groupings relating to (1) the penalties
grave felony, the penalty of arresto mayor in its is equal to or lower than those provided in attached to the quasi-offenses of "imprudence" and
minimum and medium periods shall be imposed; if the first two paragraphs of this article, in "negligence" (paragraphs 1-2); (2) a modified
it would have constituted a light felony, the penalty which case the court shall impose the penalty scheme for either or both quasi-offenses
of arresto menor in its maximum period shall be penalty next lower in degree than that which (paragraphs 3-4, 6 and 9); (3) a generic rule for
imposed. should be imposed in the period which they trial courts in imposing penalties (paragraph 5);
may deem proper to apply. and (4) the definition of "reckless imprudence" and
Any person who, by simple imprudence or "simple imprudence" (paragraphs 7-8).
negligence, shall commit an act which would 2. When, by imprudence or negligence and Conceptually, quasi-offenses penalize "the mental
otherwise constitute a grave felony, shall suffer the with violation of the Automobile Law, to attitude or condition behind the act, the dangerous
penalty of arresto mayor in its medium and death of a person shall be caused, in which recklessness, lack of care or foresight, the
maximum periods; if it would have constituted a case the defendant shall be punished by imprudencia punible,"16 unlike willful offenses which
less serious felony, the penalty of arresto mayor in prision correccional in its medium and punish the intentional criminal act. These structural
its minimum period shall be imposed. maximum periods. and conceptual features of quasi-offenses set them
apart from the mass of intentional crimes under the
first 13 Titles of Book II of the Revised Penal Code,
as amended.

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 7 of 80

Indeed, the notion that quasi-offenses, whether penalty therefor, then it would be absorbed in the not a crime in itself x x x [but] simply a way of
reckless or simple, are distinct species of crime, mitigating circumstances of Art. 13, specially the committing it x x x,"23 has long been abandoned
separately defined and penalized under the lack of intent to commit so grave a wrong as the when the Court en banc promulgated Quizon in
framework of our penal laws, is nothing new. As one actually committed. Furthermore, the theory 1955 nearly two decades after the Court decided
early as the middle of the last century, we already would require that the corresponding penalty should Faller in 1939. Quizon rejected Fallers
sought to bring clarity to this field by rejecting in be fixed in proportion to the penalty prescribed for conceptualization of quasi-crimes by holding that
Quizon v. Justice of the Peace of Pampanga the each crime when committed willfully. For each quasi-crimes under Article 365 are distinct species
proposition that "reckless imprudence is not a crime penalty for the willful offense, there would then be of crimes and not merely methods of committing
in itself but simply a way of committing it x x a corresponding penalty for the negligent variety. crimes. Faller found expression in post-Quizon
x"17 on three points of analysis: (1) the object of But instead, our Revised Penal Code (Art. 365) fixes jurisprudence24 only by dint of lingering doctrinal
punishment in quasi-crimes (as opposed to the penalty for reckless imprudence at arresto confusion arising from an indiscriminate fusion of
intentional crimes); (2) the legislative intent to mayor maximum, to prision correccional [medium], criminal law rules defining Article 365 crimes and
treat quasi-crimes as distinct offenses (as opposed if the willful act would constitute a grave felony, the complexing of intentional crimes under Article
to subsuming them under the mitigating notwithstanding that the penalty for the latter could 48 of the Revised Penal Code which, as will be
circumstance of minimal intent) and; (3) the range all the way from prision mayor to death, shown shortly, rests on erroneous conception of
different penalty structures for quasi-crimes and according to the case. It can be seen that the actual quasi-crimes. Indeed, the Quizonian conception of
intentional crimes: penalty for criminal negligence bears no relation to quasi-crimes undergirded a related branch of
the individual willful crime, but is set in relation to a jurisprudence applying the Double Jeopardy Clause
The proposition (inferred from Art. 3 of the Revised whole class, or series, of crimes.18 (Emphasis to quasi-offenses, barring second prosecutions for a
Penal Code) that "reckless imprudence" is not a supplied) quasi-offense alleging one resulting act after a prior
crime in itself but simply a way of committing it and conviction or acquittal of a quasi-offense alleging
merely determines a lower degree of criminal This explains why the technically correct way to another resulting act but arising from the same
liability is too broad to deserve unqualified assent. allege quasi-crimes is to state that their commission reckless act or omission upon which the second
There are crimes that by their structure cannot be results in damage, either to person or property.19 prosecution was based.
committed through imprudence: murder, treason,
robbery, malicious mischief, etc. In truth, criminal Accordingly, we found the Justice of the Peace in Prior Conviction or Acquittal of
negligence in our Revised Penal Code is treated as a Quizon without jurisdiction to hear a case for Reckless Imprudence Bars
mere quasi offense, and dealt with separately from "Damage to Property through Reckless Subsequent Prosecution for the Same
willful offenses. It is not a mere question of Imprudence," its jurisdiction being limited to trying Quasi-Offense
classification or terminology. In intentional crimes, charges for Malicious Mischief, an intentional crime
the act itself is punished; in negligence or conceptually incompatible with the element of The doctrine that reckless imprudence under Article
imprudence, what is principally penalized is the imprudence obtaining in quasi-crimes. 365 is a single quasi-offense by itself and not
mental attitude or condition behind the act, the merely a means to commit other crimes such that
dangerous recklessness, lack of care or foresight, Quizon, rooted in Spanish law20 (the normative conviction or acquittal of such quasi-offense bars
the imprudencia punible. x x x x ancestry of our present day penal code) and since subsequent prosecution for the same quasi-offense,
repeatedly reiterated,21 stands on solid conceptual regardless of its various resulting acts, undergirded
Were criminal negligence but a modality in the foundation. The contrary doctrinal pronouncement this Courts unbroken chain of jurisprudence on
commission of felonies, operating only to reduce the in People v. Faller22that "[r]eckless impudence is double jeopardy as applied to Article 365 starting

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 8 of 80

with People v. Diaz,25 decided in 1954. There, a full thru reckless imprudence" because of the accuseds Estiponas inconsistency with the post-war Diaz
Court, speaking through Mr. Justice Montemayor, prior acquittal of "slight physical injuries thru chain of jurisprudence suffices to impliedly overrule
ordered the dismissal of a case for "damage to reckless imprudence," with both charges grounded it. At any rate, all doubts on this matter were laid to
property thru reckless imprudence" because a prior on the same act, the Court explained:34 rest in 1982 in Buerano.37 There, we reviewed the
case against the same accused for "reckless Court of Appeals conviction of an accused for
driving," arising from the same act upon which the Reason and precedent both coincide in that once "damage to property for reckless imprudence"
first prosecution was based, had been dismissed convicted or acquitted of a specific act of reckless despite his prior conviction for "slight and less
earlier. Since then, whenever the same legal imprudence, the accused may not be prosecuted serious physical injuries thru reckless imprudence,"
question was brought before the Court, that is, again for that same act. For the essence of the arising from the same act upon which the second
whether prior conviction or acquittal of reckless quasi offense of criminal negligence under article charge was based. The Court of Appeals had relied
imprudence bars subsequent prosecution for the 365 of the Revised Penal Code lies in the execution on Estipona. We reversed on the strength of
same quasi-offense, regardless of the consequences of an imprudent or negligent act that, if Buan:38
alleged for both charges, the Court unfailingly and intentionally done, would be punishable as a felony.
consistently answered in the affirmative in People v. The law penalizes thus the negligent or careless act, Th[e] view of the Court of Appeals was inspired by
Belga26(promulgated in 1957 by the Court en banc, not the result thereof. The gravity of the the ruling of this Court in the pre-war case of
per Reyes, J.), Yap v. Lutero 27 (promulgated in consequence is only taken into account to People vs. Estipona decided on November 14, 1940.
1959, unreported, per Concepcion, J.), People v. determine the penalty, it does not qualify the However, in the case of People vs. Buan, 22 SCRA
Narvas28 (promulgated in 1960 by the Court en substance of the offense. And, as the careless act is 1383 (March 29, 1968), this Court, speaking thru
banc, per Bengzon J.), People v. single, whether the injurious result should affect Justice J. B. L. Reyes, held that
Silva29 (promulgated in 1962 by the Court en banc, one person or several persons, the offense (criminal
per Paredes, J.), People v. negligence) remains one and the same, and can not Reason and precedent both coincide in that once
Macabuhay30 (promulgated in 1966 by the Court en be split into different crimes and prosecutions.35 x x convicted or acquitted of a specific act of reckless
banc, per Makalintal, J.), People v. x (Emphasis supplied) imprudence, the accused may not be prosecuted
Buan31 (promulgated in 1968 by the Court en banc, again for that same act. For the essence of the
per Reyes, J.B.L., acting C. J.), Buerano v. Court of Evidently, the Diaz line of jurisprudence on double quasi offense of criminal negligence under Article
Appeals32 (promulgated in 1982 by the Court en jeopardy merely extended to its logical conclusion 365 of the Revised Penal Code lies in the execution
banc, per Relova, J.), and People v. City Court of the reasoning of Quizon. of an imprudent or negligent act that, if
Manila33 (promulgated in 1983 by the First Division, intentionally done, would be punishable as a felony.
per Relova, J.). These cases uniformly barred the The law penalizes thus the negligent or careless act,
There is in our jurisprudence only one ruling going
second prosecutions as constitutionally not the result thereof. The gravity of the
against this unbroken line of authority. Preceding
impermissible under the Double Jeopardy Clause. consequence is only taken into account to
Diaz by more than a decade, El Pueblo de Filipinas
v. Estipona,36 decided by the pre-war colonial Court determine the penalty, it does not qualify the
The reason for this consistent stance of extending in November 1940, allowed the subsequent substance of the offense. And, as the careless act is
the constitutional protection under the Double prosecution of an accused for reckless imprudence single, whether the injurious result should affect
Jeopardy Clause to quasi-offenses was best resulting in damage to property despite his previous one person or several persons, the offense (criminal
articulated by Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes in Buan, conviction for multiple physical injuries arising from negligence) remains one and the same, and can not
where, in barring a subsequent prosecution for the same reckless operation of a motor vehicle be split into different crimes and prosecutions.
"serious physical injuries and damage to property upon which the second prosecution was based.

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 9 of 80

xxxx vehicular collision cannot be equated with any dismissed or otherwise disposed of, two other
amount of damages caused to a motors vehicle criminal complaints were filed in the same justice of
. . . the exoneration of this appellant, Jose Buan, by arising from the same mishap."40 (Emphasis the peace court, in connection with the same
the Justice of the Peace (now Municipal) Court of supplied) collision one for damage to property through
Guiguinto, Bulacan, of the charge of slight physical reckless imprudence (Crim. Case No. 95) signed by
injuries through reckless imprudence, prevents his Hence, we find merit in petitioners submission that the owner of one of the vehicles involved in the
being prosecuted for serious physical injuries the lower courts erred in refusing to extend in his collision, and another for multiple physical injuries
through reckless imprudence in the Court of First favor the mantle of protection afforded by the through reckless imprudence (Crim. Case No. 96)
Instance of the province, where both charges are Double Jeopardy Clause. A more fitting signed by the passengers injured in the accident.
derived from the consequences of one and the jurisprudence could not be tailored to petitioners Both of these two complaints were filed against
same vehicular accident, because the second case than People v. Silva, 41 a Diaz progeny. There, Jose Belga only. After trial, both defendants were
accusation places the appellant in second jeopardy the accused, who was also involved in a vehicular acquitted of the charge against them in Crim. Case
for the same offense.39 (Emphasis supplied) collision, was charged in two separate Informations No. 88. Following his acquittal, Jose Belga moved to
with "Slight Physical Injuries thru Reckless quash the complaint for multiple physical injuries
Thus, for all intents and purposes, Buerano had Imprudence" and "Homicide with Serious Physical through reckless imprudence filed against him by
effectively overruled Estipona. Injuries thru Reckless Imprudence." Following his the injured passengers, contending that the case
acquittal of the former, the accused sought the was just a duplication of the one filed by the Chief
quashal of the latter, invoking the Double Jeopardy of Police wherein he had just been acquitted. The
It is noteworthy that the Solicitor General in
Clause. The trial court initially denied relief, but, on motion to quash was denied and after trial Jose
Buerano, in a reversal of his earlier stance in Silva,
reconsideration, found merit in the accuseds claim Belga was convicted, whereupon he appealed to the
joined causes with the accused, a fact which did not
and dismissed the second case. In affirming the Court of First Instance of Albay. In the meantime,
escape the Courts attention:
trial court, we quoted with approval its analysis of the case for damage to property through reckless
the issue following Diaz and its progeny People v. imprudence filed by one of the owners of the
Then Solicitor General, now Justice Felix V. vehicles involved in the collision had been
Belga:42
Makasiar, in his MANIFESTATION dated December remanded to the Court of First Instance of Albay
12, 1969 (page 82 of the Rollo) admits that the after Jose Belga had waived the second stage of the
Court of Appeals erred in not sustaining petitioners On June 26, 1959, the lower court reconsidered its
Order of May 2, 1959 and dismissed the case, preliminary investigation. After such remand, the
plea of double jeopardy and submits that "its Provincial Fiscal filed in the Court of First Instance
affirmatory decision dated January 28, 1969, in holding:
two informations against Jose Belga, one for
Criminal Case No. 05123-CR finding petitioner physical injuries through reckless imprudence, and
guilty of damage to property through reckless [T]he Court believes that the case falls squarely
another for damage to property through reckless
imprudence should be set aside, without costs." He within the doctrine of double jeopardy enunciated in
imprudence. Both cases were dismissed by the
stressed that "if double jeopardy exists where the People v. Belga, x x x In the case cited, Ciriaco
Court of First Instance, upon motion of the
reckless act resulted into homicide and physical Belga and Jose Belga were charged in the Justice of
defendant Jose Belga who alleged double jeopardy
injuries. then the same consequence must perforce the Peace Court of Malilipot, Albay, with the crime
in a motion to quash. On appeal by the Prov. Fiscal,
follow where the same reckless act caused merely of physical injuries through reckless imprudence
the order of dismissal was affirmed by the Supreme
damage to property-not death-and physical injuries. arising from a collision between the two
Court in the following language: .
Verily, the value of a human life lost as a result of a automobiles driven by them (Crim. Case No. 88).
Without the aforesaid complaint having been

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 10 of 80

The question for determination is whether the have been sufficient to support the second charge double jeopardy, upon the basis of the acquittal of
acquittal of Jose Belga in the case filed by the chief and vice versa; or whether one crime is an the accused in the JP court for Slight Physical
of police constitutes a bar to his subsequent ingredient of the other. x x x Injuries, thru Reckless Imprudence. In the same
prosecution for multiple physical injuries and breath said State, thru the Solicitor General, admits
damage to property through reckless imprudence. xxxx that the facts of the case at bar, fall squarely on the
ruling of the Belga case x x x, upon which the order
In the case of Peo[ple] v. F. Diaz, G. R. No. L-6518, The foregoing language of the Supreme Court also of dismissal of the lower court was anchored. The
prom. March 30, 1954, the accused was charged in disposes of the contention of the prosecuting Solicitor General, however, urges a re-examination
the municipal court of Pasay City with reckless attorney that the charge for slight physical injuries of said ruling, upon certain considerations for the
driving under sec. 52 of the Revised Motor Vehicle through reckless imprudence could not have been purpose of delimiting or clarifying its application.
Law, for having driven an automobile in a fast and joined with the charge for homicide with serious We find, nevertheless, that further elucidation or
reckless manner ... thereby causing an accident. physical injuries through reckless imprudence in disquisition on the ruling in the Belga case, the
After the accused had pleaded not guilty the case this case, in view of the provisions of Art. 48 of the facts of which are analogous or similar to those in
was dismissed in that court for failure of the Revised Penal Code, as amended. The prosecutions the present case, will yield no practical advantage
Government to prosecute. But some time contention might be true. But neither was the to the government. On one hand, there is nothing
thereafter the city attorney filed an information in prosecution obliged to first prosecute the accused which would warrant a delimitation or clarification
the Court of First Instance of Rizal, charging the for slight physical injuries through reckless of the applicability of the Belga case. It was clear.
same accused with damage to property thru imprudence before pressing the more serious On the other, this Court has reiterated the views
reckless imprudence. The amount of the damage charge of homicide with serious physical injuries expressed in the Belga case, in the identical case of
was alleged to be P249.50. Pleading double through reckless imprudence. Having first Yap v. Hon. Lutero, etc., L-12669, April 30,
jeopardy, the accused filed a motion, and on appeal prosecuted the defendant for the lesser offense in 1959.45 (Emphasis supplied)
by the Government we affirmed the ruling. Among the Justice of the Peace Court of Meycauayan,
other things we there said through Mr. Justice Bulacan, which acquitted the defendant, the Article 48 Does not Apply to Acts Penalized
Montemayor prosecuting attorney is not now in a position to Under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code
press in this case the more serious charge of
The next question to determine is the relation homicide with serious physical injuries through The confusion bedeviling the question posed in this
between the first offense of violation of the Motor reckless imprudence which arose out of the same petition, to which the MeTC succumbed, stems from
Vehicle Law prosecuted before the Pasay City alleged reckless imprudence of which the defendant persistent but awkward attempts to harmonize
Municipal Court and the offense of damage to have been previously cleared by the inferior court.43 conceptually incompatible substantive and
property thru reckless imprudence charged in the procedural rules in criminal law, namely, Article 365
Rizal Court of First Instance. One of the tests of Significantly, the Solicitor General had urged us in defining and penalizing quasi-offenses and Article
double jeopardy is whether or not the second Silva to reexamine Belga (and hence, Diaz) "for the 48 on complexing of crimes, both under the Revised
offense charged necessarily includes or is purpose of delimiting or clarifying its Penal Code. Article 48 is a procedural device
necessarily included in the offense charged in the application."44 We declined the invitation, thus: allowing single prosecution of multiple felonies
former complaint or information (Rule 113, Sec. 9). falling under either of two categories: (1) when a
Another test is whether the evidence which proves The State in its appeal claims that the lower court single act constitutes two or more grave or less
one would prove the other that is to say whether erred in dismissing the case, on the ground of grave felonies (thus excluding from its operation
the facts alleged in the first charge if proven, would light felonies46); and (2) when an offense is a

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 11 of 80

necessary means for committing the other. The Jurisprudence adopts both approaches. Thus, one 365, in relation to a charge alleging "reckless
legislature crafted this procedural tool to benefit the line of rulings (none of which involved the issue of imprudence resulting in damage to property and
accused who, in lieu of serving multiple penalties, double jeopardy) applied Article 48 by "complexing" less serious physical injuries," as follows:
will only serve the maximum of the penalty for the one quasi-crime with its multiple
most serious crime. consequences48 unless one consequence amounts to [T]he third paragraph of said article, x x x reads as
a light felony, in which case charges were split by follows:
In contrast, Article 365 is a substantive rule grouping, on the one hand, resulting acts
penalizing not an act defined as a felony but "the amounting to grave or less grave felonies and filing When the execution of the act covered by this
mental attitude x x x behind the act, the dangerous the charge with the second level courts and, on the article shall have only resulted in damage to the
recklessness, lack of care or foresight x x x,"47 a other hand, resulting acts amounting to light property of another, the offender shall be punished
single mental attitude regardless of the resulting felonies and filing the charge with the first level by a fine ranging from an amount equal to the
consequences. Thus, Article 365 was crafted as one courts.49 Expectedly, this is the approach the MeTC value of said damage to three times such value, but
quasi-crime resulting in one or more consequences. impliedly sanctioned (and respondent Ponce which shall in no case be less than 25 pesos.
invokes), even though under Republic Act No.
Ordinarily, these two provisions will operate 7691,50 the MeTC has now exclusive original
The above-quoted provision simply means that if
smoothly. Article 48 works to combine in a single jurisdiction to impose the most serious penalty
there is only damage to property the amount fixed
prosecution multiple intentional crimes falling under under Article 365 which is prision correccional in its
therein shall be imposed, but if there are also
Titles 1-13, Book II of the Revised Penal Code, medium period.
physical injuries there should be an additional
when proper; Article 365 governs the prosecution of penalty for the latter. The information cannot be
imprudent acts and their consequences. However, Under this approach, the issue of double jeopardy split into two; one for the physical injuries, and
the complexities of human interaction can produce will not arise if the "complexing" of acts penalized another for the damage to property, x x
a hybrid quasi-offense not falling under either under Article 365 involves only resulting acts x.53(Emphasis supplied)
models that of a single criminal negligence penalized as grave or less grave felonies because
resulting in multiple non-crime damages to persons there will be a single prosecution of all the resulting
By "additional penalty," the Court meant, logically,
and property with varying penalties corresponding acts. The issue of double jeopardy arises if one of
the penalty scheme under Article 365.
to light, less grave or grave offenses. The ensuing the resulting acts is penalized as a light offense and
prosecutorial dilemma is obvious: how should such the other acts are penalized as grave or less grave
offenses, in which case Article 48 is not deemed to Evidently, these approaches, while parallel, are
a quasi-crime be prosecuted? Should Article 48s
apply and the act penalized as a light offense is irreconcilable. Coherence in this field demands
framework apply to "complex" the single quasi-
tried separately from the resulting acts penalized as choosing one framework over the other. Either (1)
offense with its multiple (non-criminal)
grave or less grave offenses. we allow the "complexing" of a single quasi-crime
consequences (excluding those amounting to light
by breaking its resulting acts into separate offenses
offenses which will be tried separately)? Or should
(except for light felonies), thus re-conceptualize a
the prosecution proceed under a single charge, The second jurisprudential path nixes Article 48 and
quasi-crime, abandon its present framing under
collectively alleging all the consequences of the sanctions a single prosecution of all the effects of
Article 365, discard its conception under the Quizon
single quasi-crime, to be penalized separately the quasi-crime collectively alleged in one charge,
and Diaz lines of cases, and treat the multiple
following the scheme of penalties under Article 365? regardless of their number or severity, 51 penalizing
consequences of a quasi-crime as separate
each consequence separately. Thus, in Angeles v.
intentional felonies defined under Titles 1-13, Book
Jose,52 we interpreted paragraph three of Article

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 12 of 80

II under the penal code; or (2) we forbid the and rejected by this Court in the case of People vs. to mention that scarce state resources are
application of Article 48 in the prosecution and [Silva] x x x: conserved and diverted to proper use.
sentencing of quasi-crimes, require single
prosecution of all the resulting acts regardless of [T]he prosecutions contention might be true. But Hence, we hold that prosecutions under Article 365
their number and severity, separately penalize each neither was the prosecution obliged to first should proceed from a single charge regardless of
as provided in Article 365, and thus maintain the prosecute the accused for slight physical injuries the number or severity of the consequences. In
distinct concept of quasi-crimes as crafted under through reckless imprudence before pressing the imposing penalties, the judge will do no more than
Article 365, articulated in Quizon and applied to more serious charge of homicide with serious apply the penalties under Article 365 for each
double jeopardy adjudication in the Diaz line of physical injuries through reckless imprudence. consequence alleged and proven. In short, there
cases.1avvphi1 Having first prosecuted the defendant for the lesser shall be no splitting of charges under Article 365,
offense in the Justice of the Peace Court of and only one information shall be filed in the same
A becoming regard of this Courts place in our Meycauayan, Bulacan, which acquitted the first level court.55
scheme of government denying it the power to defendant, the prosecuting attorney is not now in a
make laws constrains us to keep inviolate the position to press in this case the more serious Our ruling today secures for the accused facing an
conceptual distinction between quasi-crimes and charge of homicide with serious physical injuries Article 365 charge a stronger and simpler protection
intentional felonies under our penal code. Article 48 through reckless imprudence which arose out of the of their constitutional right under the Double
is incongruent to the notion of quasi-crimes under same alleged reckless imprudence of which the Jeopardy Clause. True, they are thereby denied the
Article 365. It is conceptually impossible for defendant has been previously cleared by the beneficent effect of the favorable sentencing
a quasi-offense to stand for (1) a inferior court. formula under Article 48, but any disadvantage thus
single act constituting two or more grave or less caused is more than compensated by the certainty
grave felonies; or (2) an offense which is a [W]e must perforce rule that the exoneration of this of non-prosecution for quasi-crime effects qualifying
necessary means for committing another. This is appellant x x x by the Justice of the Peace x x x of as "light offenses" (or, as here, for the more serious
why, way back in 1968 in Buan, we rejected the the charge of slight physical injuries through consequence prosecuted belatedly). If it is so
Solicitor Generals argument that double jeopardy reckless imprudence, prevents his being prosecuted minded, Congress can re-craft Article 365 by
does not bar a second prosecution for slight for serious physical injuries through reckless extending to quasi-crimes the sentencing formula of
physical injuries through reckless imprudence imprudence in the Court of First Instance of the Article 48 so that only the most severe penalty shall
allegedly because the charge for that offense could province, where both charges are derived from the be imposed under a single prosecution of all
not be joined with the other charge for serious consequences of one and the same vehicular resulting acts, whether penalized as grave, less
physical injuries through reckless imprudence accident, because the second accusation places the grave or light offenses. This will still keep intact the
following Article 48 of the Revised Penal Code: appellant in second jeopardy for the same distinct concept of quasi-offenses. Meanwhile, the
offense.54 (Emphasis supplied) lenient schedule of penalties under Article 365,
The Solicitor General stresses in his brief that the befitting crimes occupying a lower rung of
charge for slight physical injuries through reckless Indeed, this is a constitutionally compelled choice. culpability, should cushion the effect of this ruling.
imprudence could not be joined with the accusation By prohibiting the splitting of charges under Article
for serious physical injuries through reckless 365, irrespective of the number and severity of the WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition.
imprudence, because Article 48 of the Revised Penal resulting acts, rampant occasions of constitutionally We REVERSE the Orders dated 2 February 2006
Code allows only the complexing of grave or less impermissible second prosecutions are avoided, not and 2 May 2006 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig
grave felonies. This same argument was considered City, Branch 157. We DISMISS the Information in

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 13 of 80

Criminal Case No. 82366 against petitioner Jason Reckless imprudence consists of voluntarily Bayambang, [P]rovince of Pangasinan, Philippines,
Ivler y Aguilar pending with the Metropolitan Trial doing or failing to do, without malice, an act from and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
Court of Pasig City, Branch 71 on the ground of which material damage results by reason of an the above-named accused, with intent to kill, did
double jeopardy. inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of the then and there, wil[l]fully, unlawfully and
person performing or failing to perform such feloniously shoot his son Richard V. Agliday with a
Let a copy of this ruling be served on the President act. Malice is the antithesis of reckless shotgun, unlicensed causing his death shortly
of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of imprudence.Once malice is proven, recklessness thereafter due to [c]ardio respiratory arrest,
Representatives. disappears. hypovolemic shock, gunshot wound, pt. of entry at
the (L) upper inner quadrant of gluteus, 3 x 3 cm.
SO ORDERED. (+) contusion collar, as per Certificate of Death
The Case issued by Dr. Rod Alden Tamondong, M.D., medical
officer III, Region I Medical Center, Arellano St.,
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Dagupan City, to the damage and prejudice of his
Associate Justice
Before us is an appeal from the September 14, legal heirs.[4]
1997 Decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court of San
WE CONCUR:
Carlos City (Branch 57) in Criminal Case No. SCC On arraignment, appellant, assisted by Atty.
3054. The assailed Decision disposed as follows: Bernardo S. Valdez, pleaded not guilty.[5] After trial
in due course, the lower court rendered the assailed
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing Decision. Atty. Carlito M. Soriano, counsel for
consideration, the court finds the accused Ricardo appellant, filed the Notice of Appeal on September
T. Agliday guilty beyond reasonable doubt of 22, 1999.[6]
parricide and hereby sentences him to suffer the
3. People vs agliday
penalty of reclusion perpetua and to indemnify the
heirs of the victim in the amount of fifty thousand The Facts
pesos (50,000.00). Version of the Prosecution
[G.R. No. 140794. October 16, 2001]
The PNP Bayambang[,] Pangasinan is directed to
turn over the shotgun to the Firearm and Explosive In its Brief,[7] the Office of the Solicitor General
Division, Camp Crame, Quezon City.[2] summarized the prosecutions version of the facts as
follows:
PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, appellee, vs. RICARDO This case originated from the April 22, 1999
Information,[3] in which Ricardo Agliday y Tolentino Prosecution witness Conchita Agliday, wife of
AGLIDAY y TOLENTINO, appellant.
was accused of parricide, allegedly committed as appellant Reynaldo Agliday, testified that about
follows: 8:00 oclock on the evening of February 25, 1999
DECISION while washing dishes in the kitchen of their house,
PANGANIBAN, J.: That on or about February 25, 1999, in the evening, her son Richard Agliday was shot with a shotgun by
at [B]arangay Nalsian Sur, [M]unicipality of her husband-appellant Ricardo Agliday (pp. 4-5,
tsn, July 5, 1999). As a result, her son Richard fell

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 14 of 80

on his belly; her husband-appellant ran Dr. Tamondong found a gunshot wound at the left Pangasinan. They later transferred him to the San
away. Although shocked, Conchita was able to rush buttock of the victim which had no point of exit; he Carlos General Hospital. Finally, they brought him
out of her house to call for help. Richard was first also found multiple metallic objects therein based to the Region I Medical Center at Dagupan City,
brought to the Sto. Nio Hospital, then to the San on the contusion color of the wound and the x-ray where he expired.
Carlos General Hospital, and finally to the Region I result (pp. 4-5, id.). He stated that the cause of the
Hospital in Dagupan City (pp. 5-6, id.). victims death was cardio-respiratory arrest Thereafter, appellant returned to Bayambang,
secondary to the decrease of the circulating blood Pangasinan. He directly went to the house of
Before the shooting, Conchita and her husband of the victim (pp. 4-5, id.). But he did not issue a Barangay Captain Jose Matabang, Jr. to whom he
quarreled over her working as a laundrywoman (p. medical certificate as he was then on official leave; voluntarily surrendered. The barangay captain
7, id.). Her son, Richard, at the time of his death, he only issued a death certificate (Exhibit D) (p. 5, brought the appellant to [the] police station of
was only nineteen (19) years old and in 4 th year id.).[8] Bayambang, Pangasinan, with the homemade
college (p. 9, id.). shotgun which [had] accidentally hit Richard.[10]

Prosecution witness Rey Agliday, another son of Version of the Defense


appellant, testified that he was in their house Ruling of the Trial Court
resting on a wooden bed at the time of the incident
in question (p. 3, tsn, June 18, 1999). Rey saw his Appellant, in his Brief,[9] submits his own
father-appellant shoot his brother Richard with a narration of the events: Faced with two conflicting versions of the facts,
shotgun, as he was about four (4) meters from the trial court gave credence to the prosecution
them (p. 4, id.). Appellant Ricardo T. Agliday is a barangay tanod of witnesses who gave straightforward, spontaneous,
Nalsian Sur, Bayambang, Pangasinan. sincere and frank accounts of the events that had
Before the shooting incident, Rey recounted [that] unfolded before their very eyes. Because of their
his mother and his father-appellant had a quarrel, Sometime on February 25, 1999, at or about 8:00 relationship with appellant, there was no reason for
but he did not interfere. His brother Richard, on the oclock in the evening, appellant was at the first them to testify falsely against him. The first witness
other hand, intervened and for that reason floor of his house. He was cleaning a homemade (Rey) was appellants son who was the victims
appellant got his shotgun and shot shotgun which he intended to bring to [his] night brother, while the other witness (Conchita) was
Richard. Appellant surrendered to the barangay patrol in their barangay, with fellow barangay appellants wife who was the victims mother.
captain who accompanied him to the police tanods.
The defense of appellant that what happened
authorities. Rey executed a sworn statement
was an accidental shooting was disbelieved by the
(Exhibit A) on the shooting incident (p. 5, id.). While his wife Conchita and his son Richard were trial court. It viewed such stance as his desperate
about to go upstairs, and while appellant was attempt to exculpate himself from the
Dr. Rod Alden Tamondong, medical health officer, cleaning the homemade shotgun, the gun consequences of his acts.
Region I Medical Center, Dagupan City declared accidentally went off and Richards buttock was hit.
that he attended to the medical needs of Richard Hence, this appeal.[11]
Agliday. Richard came in looking very pale, weak, Appellant went near his son and embraced
and semi-conscious (p. 3, tsn, July 13, 1999). He him. Appellant and some relatives brought Richard
died at the emergency room. to the Sto. Nino Hospital at Bayambang, The Issues

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 15 of 80

Appellant submits the following issues: We disagree. Long settled is the rule in criminal circumstance of accident under Article 12
jurisprudence that when the issue is one of (paragraph 4) of the Revised Penal Code.
First Assignment of Error credibility of witnesses, an appellate court will
normally not disturb the factual findings of the trial We are not persuaded. Both the trial court and
the solicitor general rejected this defense on the
The Honorable Court a quo erred in its findings court.[14] That is, unless the lower court has reached
conclusions that are clearly unsupported by basis of the eyewitness testimonies of Conchita and
of facts which[,] had they been in accordance Rey. Under Article 12 (paragraph 4) of the Code,
with the evidence adduced, will suffice to evidence, or unless it has overlooked some facts or
circumstances of weight and influence which, if criminal liability does not arise in case a crime is
support a judgment of acquittal for accused- committed by [a]ny person who, while performing a
appellant.[12] considered, would affect the results.[15]
lawful act with due care, causes an injury by mere
Matabangs testimony was basically what accident without fault or intention of causing it. The
Second Assignment of Error appellant had told him and, hence, biased and exemption from criminal liability under the
limited. The testimony of Opina -- that he had been circumstance showing accident is based on the lack
The Honorable Court a quo erred in convicting told by Conchita that the shooting was accidental -- of criminal intent.
accused appellant [of] parricide.[13] was contradicted by her own statements in open
The declarations of innocence by appellant are
court that she was still in shock when the police
officer conducted the preliminary contradicted by the testimonies of his wife and
son. On the witness stand, Conchita recounts the
This Courts Ruling investigation. Such statements taken ex parte, like
affidavits, are held as inferior to testimonies given incident as follows:
in open court.[16] Thus, we find no ground in the Q: You said that you were at home on February
The appeal is devoid of merit. case at bar to overturn the factual findings of the 25, 1999 at about 8:00 oclock in the
trial court. evening; what were you doing if you can still
remember?
First Issue: Credibility of Witnesses A: I was washing dishes, sir.
Second Issue: Accident as an Exempting
Circumstance Q: While doing so, do you recall if there was any
Appellant contends that the trial court erred in unusual incident that happened?
giving credence to the prosecution witnesses
despite his avowals to the contrary. He claims that Appellant protests the trial courts ruling that his A: Yes, sir.
it should have believed him because he had defense of accidental shooting was Q: What was that unusual incident?
absolutely no reason or motive to kill, much less fabricated. According to him, he was cleaning the
shoot, his own son whom he considered to have shotgun that he would have used for the evening A: My son was shot by my husband, sir.
had a very bright future. He further alleges that the patrol with other barangay tanods when he
Q: Where did your husband [shoot] your son?
corroborating testimonies of Jose Matabang and accidentally touched the trigger and hit Richard,
SPO1 Emilio Opina, who were not related to the who was going up the stairs into the house with A: In the kitchen, sir.
parties and had absolutely no motive to testify Conchita.[17] He therefore contends that he should
falsely against him, were more credible than those be acquitted on the basis of the exempting Q: What weapon did your husband use in
of his wife and other son. shooting your son?

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 16 of 80

A: Shotgun, sir.[18] Q: What was that unusual incident? [22]


The act of firing a shotgun at another is not a
lawful act.
In her Sworn Statement given to SPO1 Emilio A: My brother was shot by my father, sir.
Opina of the Bayambang Police Station, she An accident is an occurrence that happens
declared: Q: How far where you when your father shot outside the sway of our will, and although it comes
your brother? about through some act of our will, lies beyond the
04. Q: Will you please narrate to me briefly all bounds of humanly foreseeable consequences.[23] It
you know about the incident you are A: About four (4) meters, sir.
connotes the absence of criminal intent. Intent is a
referring to? Q: What weapon did your father use in shooting mental state, the existence of which is shown by a
A: That on or about 8:00 oclock in the evening your brother? persons overt acts.[24] In the case at bar, appellant
o[n] February 25, 1999 while I and my A: A shotgun, sir. got his shotgun and returned to the kitchen to
husband Ricardo Agliday y Tolentino were shoot his son, who had intervened in the quarrel
quarreling in connection [with] his drinking xxxxxxxxx between the former and Conchita. It must also be
(liquor) habit[,] my son Richard V. Agliday pointed out that the firearm was a shotgun that
Q: Where was your mother, Conchita at the time
tried to [pacify] us but my husband, instead would not have fired off without first being
your father shot your brother Richard?
of listening, x x x got his gun [from] the bed cocked. Undoubtedly, appellant cocked the shotgun
where we are sleeping and shot our son A: She was there and they were both quarreling, before discharging it, showing a clear intent to fire
Richard V. Agliday."[19] sir. it at someone.

Rey corroborated his mothers testimony that Q: They were both quarreling before the incident The Resolution[25] dated April 22, 1999, filed by
th
his brother was shot by their father. His testimony happened? 4 Asst. Provincial Prosecutor Emilio R. Soriano,
proceeded as follows: reads thus:
A: Yes, sir.
Q: On February 25, 1999 at about 8:00 oclock in [O]n the evening of February 25, 1999 at about
Q: And while your father and mother were
the evening, do you remember where you 8:00 oclock, complainant and her husband were
quarreling what did you do?
were? then quarreling in connection with his liquor
A: I did not interfere[;] it was my brother who drinking habit. While they were quarreling, their son
A: Yes, sir.
intervene[d] between them that is why my Richard intervened and tried to pacify his father
Q: Where were you on that day and [at that] father got his gun and shot my brother, sir. who [was] under the influence of liquor.Apparently
[20]
time? angered and not listening to his son, he proceeded
A: I was under the house resting on a wooden Before the accused may be exempted from inside their bedroom and took his gun and
bed, sir. criminal liability by reason of Article 12 (paragraph thereafter shot his son Richard who was trying to
4), the following elements must concur: (1) a pacify them. After seeing her son being shot by her
xxxxxxxxx person is performing a lawful act (2) with due care, husband, complainant ran outside and called for
and (3) he causes an injury to another by mere help. x x x.
Q: While you were under your house resting do
you remember if there was any unusual accident and (4) without any fault or intention of
causing it.[21] For an accident to become an After carefully considering the uncontroverted
incident that happened?
exempting circumstance, the act has to be lawful. evidence adduced by complainant, undersigned
A: Yes, sir.

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 17 of 80

sufficiently finds a probable cause for [p]arricide had intended to fire at the victim and in fact hit only his thirteen (13) year old patient
with the use of an unlicensed firearm x x x.[26] the latter. In this case, resenting his sons meddling Catherine Acosta. The trial court had sentenced him
in his argument with his wife, appellant purposely to suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in its medium
Appellant contends that since he was only took his gun and shot his son. period (four [4] months' imprisonment), as well as
negligent, he should have been convicted, not of to pay the heirs of his patient an indemnity of
WHEREFORE, the appeal is P30,000.00 for her death, P10,000.00 as
parricide, but only of reckless imprudence resulting
hereby DENIED and the assailed
in homicide.[27] reimbursement for actual expenses incurred,
Decision AFFIRMED. Costs against appellant. P50,000.00 as moral damages and to pay the costs
We disagree. Reckless imprudence consists of of the suit. 1
SO ORDERED.
voluntarily doing or failing to do, without malice, an
act from which material damage results by reason The information filed against petitioner and his co-
of an inexcusable lack of precaution on the part of accused, the surgeon Dr. Emilio Madrid, alleged the
the person performing or failing to perform such following:
act. Past jurisprudential cases of reckless 4. Pangoronom vs people (NF)
imprudence resulting in homicide were as follows:
That on or about the 31st of May
(1) exhibiting a loaded revolver to a friend, who got
1981, in the municipality of
killed by the accidental discharge arising from 5. Carillo vs people Paraaque, Metro Manila, Philippines
negligent handling; (2) discharging a firearm from
and within the jurisdiction of this
the window of ones house and killing a neighbor
G.R. No. 86890 January 21, 1994 Honorable Court, the above-named
who, at just that moment, leaned over a balcony
accused, conspiring and
front; and (3) firing a .45 caliber pistol twice in the
LEANDRO CARILLO, petitioner, confederating together and mutually
air to stop a fist fight; and, as the fight continued,
vs. helping and aiding with one another,
firing another shot at the ground but, after the
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. without taking the necessary care
bullet ricocheted, hitting a bystander who died
and precaution to avoid injury to
thereafter.[28]
Balane, Tamase, Alampay Law Office for petitioner. person, did then and there willfully,
Intent is not lacking in the instant unlawfully and feloniously operate, in
case. Appellants external acts prove malice or a reckless, careless and imprudent
The Solicitor General for the people.
criminal intent. A deliberate intent to do an unlawful manner and neglected to exercise
act is inconsistent with reckless imprudence.[29] their respective medical knowhow
and tasks and/or departed from the
In People v. Belbes,[30] the Court found no recognized standard in their
reckless imprudence in the shooting of a student FELICIANO, J.: treatment, diagnosis of the condition,
who, in the act of destroying the schools bamboo and operation of the patient, one
wall, had been caught by a policeman who was Petitioner Dr. Leandro Carillo, an anesthetist, seeks Catherine Acosta, 13 years old, which
responding to a report that somebody was causing review of the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated negligence caused the death of the
trouble in a school affair. The policemans action 28 November 1988, which affirmed his conviction said Catherine Acosta. 2
cannot be characterized as reckless imprudence, by the Regional Trial Court of the crime of simple
because the shooting was intentional. The accused negligence resulting in homicide, for the death of

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 18 of 80

Petitioner and Dr. Emilio Madrid entered pleas of On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the operation at 5:00 o'clock in the
not guilty at arraignment and the case proceeded to judgment of conviction, and specified that the civil afternoon. The operation took place
trail with Judge Job B. Madayag presiding. 3 liability of the two (2) accused was solidary in at 5:45 p.m. because Dr. Madrid
nature. 11 arrived only at that time.
The prosecution presented as its principal evidence
the testimony of four (4) witnesses, namely: 1) Petitioner Dr. Carillo alone filed the present Petition When brought inside the operating
Yolanda Acosta, Catherine's mother, who was able for Review with the Court, seeking reversal of his room, the child was feeling very well
to observe the conduct of the accused outside the conviction, or in the alternative, the grant of a new and they did not subject the child to
operating theater before, during and after the trial. Dr. Madrid did not try to appeal further the ECG (electrocardiogram) and
appendectomy procedure carried out on her Court of Appeals Decision. Accordingly, the X-ray.
daughter; 4 2) Domingo Acosta, Catherine's father, judgment of conviction became final insofar as the
who corroborated some parts of his wife's accused surgeon Dr. Madrid is concerned. The appellant Dr. Emilio Madrid, a
testimony; 5 3) Dr. Horacio Buendia, an expert surgeon, operated on Catherine. He
witness who described before the trial court the The facts of the case as established by the Court of was assisted by appellant, Dr.
relationship between a surgeon and an anesthetist Appeals are as follows: Leandro Carillo, an anesthesiologists.
in the course of a surgical operation, as well as
define the likelihood of cardiac arrest as a post The deceased, Catherine Acosta, a 13 During the operation, while Yolanda
operative complication; 6 and 4) Dr. Nieto Salvador, year old girl, daughter of spouses Acosta, Catherine's mother, was
an expert witness who analyzed and explained the Domingo and Yolanda Acosta, staying outside the operating room,
significance of the results of the pathological study complained to her father at about she "noticed something very
and autopsy conducted on Catherine's body by one 10:30 o'clock in the morning of May unfamiliar." The three nurses who
Dr. Alberto Reyes. 7 31, 1981 of pains in the lower part of assisted in the operation were going
her abdomen. Catherine was then in and out of the operating room,
After the prosecution had rested its case, the brought to Dr. Elva Pea. Dra. Pea they were not carrying anything, but
defense was granted leave to file a demurrer to the called for Dr. Emilio Madrid and the in going out of the operating room,
evidence. 8 After failing to file the demurrer within latter examined Catherine Acosta. they were already holding something.
the reglementary period, Judge Manuel Yuzon, who According to Dr. Madrid, his findings
had in the meantime taken over as presiding judge might be appendicitis. Then Dr. Pea Yolanda asked one of the nurses if
of the sala where this case was pending, denied the told Catherine's parents to bring the she could enter the operating room
defense motion for extension of time to file child to the hospital in Baclaran so but she was refused.
demurrer and declared the case submitted for that the child will be observed.
decision. 9
At around 6:30 p.m., Dr. Emilio
At the Baclaran General Hospital, a Madrid went outside the operating
On 19 September 1985, the trial court promulgated nurse took blood sample form the room and Yolanda Acosta was
its decision convicting both the accused of the crime child. The findings became known at allowed to enter the first door.
charged. 10 around 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon
and the child was scheduled for

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 19 of 80

The appendicitis (sic) was shown to she returned to the hospital are gown is
them by Dr. Madrid, because, reproduced hereunder as follows: rising up
according to Dr. Madrid, they might and
be wondering because he was going Q What down.
to install drainage near the operating happene
(sic) portion of the child. d Q What
afterward transpire
When asked, the doctor told them the ? d after
child was already out of danger but that?
the operation was not yet finished. A When I
arrived in A I asked
It has also been established that the the Dr.
deceased was not weighed before the hospital, Madrid
administration of anesthesia on her. my child why it
was was like
The operation was finished at 7:00 being that, that
o'clock in the evening and when the transferr the
child was brought out from the ed to her heartbea
operating room, she was observed to bed. t of my
be shivering (nanginginig); her heart daughter
beat was not normal; she was asleep Q What is not
and did not wake up; she was pale; else normal.
and as if she had difficulty in happene
breathing and Dr. Emilio Madrid d? Q And
suggested that she placed under did the
oxygen tank; that oxygen was Q I doctor
administered to the child when she noticed make
was already in the room. that the any
heartbea reply?
Witness Yolanda Acosta further t of my
testified that shortly before the child daughter A The
was transferred from the operating was not doctor
room to her room, she (witness) was normal. said
requested by the anesthesiologist to And I because
go home and get a blanket. noticed of the
A portion of Yolanda Acosta's that her lesion of
testimony on what happened when hospital the child.

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 20 of 80

Q What Q What you do


else happene anything
happene d later ?
d? on after
Dr. Carill A We
A After o and requeste
they Dr. Madri d the
have d nurse
revived stepped who was
the out of attending
heartbea the to her to
t of the hospital? call for a
child, doctor.
Dr. Carill A After
o and 15 or 30 Q And
Dr. Madri minutes the nurse
d left. has who was
lapsed at attending
Q Now about to the
do you 7:15 or patient
remembe 7:30, the called for
r what child had a doctor?
time was develope
it when d A They
Dr. Carill convulsio called for
o n and Dra.
stepped stiffening Pea,
out? of the their
body. family
A Only a physician
minute Q When .
after you
they observed Q What
have convulsio transpire
transferr n and d
ed the stiffening afterward
child to of the s?
the bed. body, did

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 21 of 80

A What the result transpire


Dra. of the d next?
Pea did examinat
was call ion? A
for Dr. Accordin
Madrid A The g to
and the cardiologi them,
cardiologi st was they will
st. the one do their
whom best for
Q Did informed the child
this us after and that
doctor he they will
arrived? stepped call for
out of Dr. Carill
A Yes. the room o.
when we
Q What followed Q Did
transpire him. The Dr. Carill
d after doctor o
the told us arrived?
doctor that she
arrived? suffered A At
severe around
infection 10:30 in
A They
which the
examine
went up evening.
d the
to her
child.
head.
Q Did Dr.
Q After Carillo do
Q After anything
they
you were when he
examine
informed arrived
d the
of the on 31
child, did
result of May
they
his 1981?
inform
examinat
you of
ion, what

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 22 of 80

A When Q What sness, I


he happene will
arrived, d after resign
he that? (sic) as a
noticed doctor." 1
2
that A After
there that we
were two talked to (Emphasi
small Dr. Carill s
bottles o and supplied)
and big asked
bottles of him how When Catherine remained unconscious until
dextrose did this noontime the next day, a neurologist examined her
which happen and she was diagnosed as comatose. 13 Three (3)
were to the days later, Catherine died without regaining
hanging child. consciousness. 14
above
the bed Q What The Court of Appeals held that Catherine had
of the did Dr. suffered from an overdose of, or an adverse
child. Carillo reaction to, anesthesia, particularly the arbitrary
Then he reply administration of Nubain, a pain killer, without
said, (sic) to benefit of prior weighing of the patient's body mass,
"What is you? which weight determines the dosage of Nubain
this?
which can safely be given to a patient. 15 The Court
Christma
A He of Appeals held that this condition triggered off a
s tree or
answere heart attack as a post-operative complication,
what?"
d "that is depriving Catherine's brain of oxygen, leading to
He told
nothing, the brain's hemorrhage. 16 The Court of Appeals
us that
the child identified such cardiac arrest as the immediate
one
will cause of Catherine's death. 17
bottle of
regain
dextrose
consciou The Court of Appeals found criminal negligence on
be
sness the part of petitioner Dr. Carillo and his co-accused
removed.
and if Dr. Madrid, holding that both had failed to observe
And the
the child the required standard of diligence in the
big one
will not examination of Catherine prior to the actual
will
regain administration of anesthesia; 18 that it was "a bit
remain.
consciou

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 23 of 80

rash" on the part of the accused Dr. Carillo "to have disposition of the case. The rule is too firmly settled had generated or triggered off cardiac arrest, which
administered Nubain without first weighing to require much documentation that only questions in
Catherine"; 19 and that it was an act of negligence of law may be raised before this Court in a petition turn led to lack of oxygen in Catherine's brain,
on the part of both doctors when, (a) they failed to for review on certiorari, subject to certain well- which then brought about hemorrhaging in the
monitor Catherine's heartbeat after the operation known exceptions. 23 After careful scrutiny of brain. Vital activity in the brain thereupon ceased.
and petitioner's contentions before us and the record of The medical evidence presented at the trial was
(b) they left the hospital immediately after reviving this case, we do not believe that petitioner has quite consistent with the findings of the Court of
Catherine's heartbeat, depriving the latter shown "misapprehension of facts" on the part of the Appeals which concluded that cardiac arrest was the
of immediate and expert medical assistance when Court of Appeals which would require this Court to cause of Catherine's death. 25
she suffered a heart attack approximately fifteen overturn the judgment reached by the former.
(15) to thirty (30) minutes later. 20 For his part, petitioner insists that cardiac arrest is
The second issue is whether or not the findings of not the only cause of oxygen-starvation of the
Since neither petitioner nor his co-accused fact of the Court of Appeals adequately support the brain, that septicemia with peritonitis or severe
presented evidence in their own behalf, the present conclusion that petitioner Dr. Carillo was, along with infection which had "gone up to the head" of
Petition seeks to question the soundness of the Dr. Madrid, guilty of simple negligence which Catherine was an equally efficient cause of
factual conclusions drawn by the Court of Appeals, resulted in homicide. Our review of the record leads deprivation of the brain of oxygen and hence of
upon which the affirmance of petitioner's conviction us to an affirmative answer. brain hemorrhage. The medical testimony of the
was based. expert witnesses for the prosecution on which
Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals petitioner relies is also consistent with petitioner's
Close examination of the instant Petition for Review seriously erred in finding that an overdose of, or an theory that septicemia with peritonitis was, or at
shows that petitioner's main arguments are two- allergic reaction to, the anesthetic drug Nubain had least could have been, the cause of Catherine's
fold: (1) the Court of Appeals "completely brushed led to the death of Catherine Acosta and that the death. 26
aside" and "misapprehended" Catherine's death true cause of Catherine's death was that set out in
certificate and biopsy report which allegedly showed the death certificate of Catherine: "Septicemia (or Indeed, it appears to the Court that there was no
that the cause of death was a ruptured appendix, blood poisoning) due to perforated appendix with medical proof submitted to the trial court to show
which led to blood poisoning, 21rather than faulty peritonitis." 24 The concept of causation in general, that one or the other "cause"
anesthetic treatment; and the cause of death in human beings in was necessarily an exclusive cause of death in the
and (2) there was no direct evidence of record particular, are complex and difficult notions. What is case of Catherine Acosta; that an overdose or
showing that Nubain was administered to Catherine fairly clear is that death, understood as a physical allergic reaction to Nubain could not have combined
either during the appendectomy procedure or after condition involving cessation of vital signs in the with septicemia and peritonitis in bringing about
such operation. 22 brain and heart, is preceded by a series of Catherine's death.
physiological events, any one of which events can,
Two (2) related issues are thus posed for the with equal cogency, be described as a "cause of What is of critical importance for present purposes
Court's consideration. The first is whether the Court death". The Court of Appeals found that an is not so much the identification of the "true cause"
of Appeals so drastically "misapprehended" the overdose of, or an adverse reaction to, Nubain, an or "real cause" of Catherine's death but rather the
relevant, operative facts in this case as to compel anesthetic or set of circumstances which both the trial court and
this Court to examine and resolve question(s) of pain-killing drug the appropriate dose of which the Court of Appeals found constituted simple (as
fact which would have a decisive significance for the depends on the body weight or mass of the patient, distinguished from reckless) negligence on the part

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 24 of 80

of the two accused Dr. Madrid and Dr. Carillo somewhat higher standard of professional diligence conscience, violation of this rule on his part is
leading to the death of Catherine. upon the accused surgeon and anesthetist "discreditable and inexcusable". 36
personally than would have been called for in a
When the patient was wheeled out of the operating modern fully-equipped hospital. Nubain was an experimental drug for anesthesia
room after completion of surgery, she manifested and post-operative pain and the medical literature
signs of medical instability (i.e., shivering, paleness, While Dr. Madrid and a cardiologist were containing required that a patient be weighed first before it is
irregular breathing and weak heart beat). 27 She the patient's convulsions, and after the latter had administered and warned that there was no (or
was not brought to a properly equipped recovery diagnosed that infection had reached the patient's inadequate) experience relating to the
room, or intensive care until which the hospital head, these two (2) apparently after consultation, administration thereof to a patient less that
lacked. 28 Such facilities and their professional decided to call-in the petitioner. 32 There is here a eighteen (18) ears of age. 37 Yet, the doctor's order
staffs, of which an anesthetist is commonly a part, strong implication that the patient's post-operative sheet (Exhibit "C") did not contain this precaution
are essential for providing close observation and condition must have been considered by the two (2) but instead directed a reader to apply the drug only
patient care while a post-surgery patient is doctors as in some way related to the anesthetic when warranted by the circumstances. 38 During the
recovering from the effects of anesthesia and while treatment she had received from the petitioner offer of Exhibit "C" by the prosecution, Dr. Madrid
the normal protective mechanisms are still dull or either during or after the surgical procedure. admitted that this prescription, which was unsigned,
obtunded. 29 Instead, the patient was merely was made in his own handwriting. 39 It must be
brought to her assigned hospital bed and was Once summoned, petitioner anesthesiologist could observed that the instruction was open-ended in
provided oxygen on the instructions of Dr. Madrid not be readily found. When he finally appeared at that some other individual still had to determine if
then "revived" her heartbeat. 30 Both doctors then 10:30 in the evening, he was evidently in a bad circumstances existed warranting administration of
left their patient and the hospital; approximately temper, commenting critically on the dextrose the drug to the patient. The document thus
fifteen minutes later, she suffered convulsions and bottles before ordering their removal. 33 This indicated the abdication of medical responsibility on
cardiac arrest. 31 circumstance indicated he was not disposed to an extremely critical matter.
attend to this unexpected call, in violation of the Since petitioner anesthesiologist
The conduct of Dr. Madrid and of the petitioner canons of his profession that as a physician, he entered subsequent prescriptions or orders in the
constituted inadequate care of their patient in view should serve the interest of his patient "with the same order sheet, which were signed by him,
of her vulnerable condition. Both doctors failed to greatest of solicitude, giving them always his best at 7:15 p.m. on the same evening of 31 May 1981,
appreciate the serious condition of their patient talent and skill." 34 Indeed, when petitioner finally he was in a position to appreciate the dangers
whose adverse physical signs were quite manifest saw his patient, he offered the unprofessional inherent in the prior prescription, which was within
right after surgery. And after reviving her bluster to the parents of Catherine that he would his (petitioner's) area of specialization, and to order
heartbeat, both doctors failed to monitor their resign if the patient will not regain measures to correct this anomaly and protect his
patient closely or extend further medical care to consciousness. 35 The canons of medical ethics patient's well-being. So far as the condition of the
her; such conduct was especially necessary in view require a physician to "attend to his patients evidence shows, he failed to do so. In sum, only a
of the inadequate, faithfully and conscientiously." He should secure for low level of diligence was exhibited by petitioner
post-operative facilities of the hospital. We do not, them all possible benefits that may depend upon his and Dr. Madrid in the prescription of medication for
of course, seek to hold petitioner responsible for the professional skill and care. As the sole tribunal to their patient.
inadequate facilities of the Baclaran General adjudge the physician's failure to fulfill his
Hospital. We consider, however, that the obligation to his patient is, in most cases, his own As noted earlier, petitioner relied heavily in this
inadequate nature of those facilities did impose a proceeding on the testimony on cross-examination

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 25 of 80

of the expert witnesses for the prosecution to show with other related circumstances which the to observe that the events which occurred during
that blood poisoning resulting from a ruptured prosecution had proven: that the patient was the surgical procedure (including whether or not
appendix could also be responsible for the patient's ambulatory when brought to the operating Nubain had in fact been administered as an
death. room; 46 that she left the operating room two (2) anesthesia immediately before or during the
hours later in obviously serious condition; and that surgery) were peculiarly within the knowledge and
No suggestion has been made that the rupture of an appendectomy accompanied or followed by control of Dr. Carillo and Dr. Madrid. It was,
the patient's occurred prior to surgery. After her sustained antibiotic treatment is a fairly common therefore, incumbent upon the two (2) accused to
blood sample was examined, the patient was and generally accepted medical procedure for overturn the prima facie case which the prosecution
merely diagnosed as a case of appendicitis, without dealing with ruptured appendix and peritonitis, 47 a had established, by reciting the measures which
further elaboration. 40 No intensive preoperative fact of which judicial note may be taken. they had actually taken to prevent or to counter the
preparations, like the immediate administration of obviously serious condition of Catherine Acosta
antibiotics, was thereafter undertaken on the As early as in People v. Vistan, 48 the Court defined which was evident right after surgery. This they
patient. This is a standard procedure for patients simple negligence, penalized under what is now failed or refused to do so.
who are, after being diagnosed, suspected of Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, as "a mere
suffering from a perforated appendix and lack of prevision in a situation where either the Still another circumstance of which account must be
consequent peritonitis. 41 The mother also testified threatened harm is taken is that both petitioner and Dr. Madrid failed to
that petitioner anesthesiologist merely injected a not immediate or the danger not openly visible." inform the parents of their minor patient of the
drug, "pre-anesthesia" intended to put the patient Put in a slightly different way, the gravamen of the nature of her illness, or to explain to them either
to sleep, into the container of fluids being offense of simple negligence is the failure to during the surgery
administered to her daughter intravenously at her exercise the diligence necessitated or called for the (if feasible) or at any time after the surgery, the
room, prior to surgery. 42 We note further that the situation which was not immediately events which comprised the dramatic deterioration
surgeon Dr. Madrid was forty-five minutes late in life-destructive but which culminated, in the present of her condition immediately after surgery as
arriving at the operating theater. 43 Considering case, in the death of a human being three (3) days compared with her pre-surgery condition. To give a
that delay in treatment of appendicitis increases the later. Such failure to exercise the necessary degree truthful explanation to the parents was a duty
morbidity of the patient, 44 Dr. Madrid's conduct can of care and diligence is a negative ingredient of the imposed upon them by the canons of their
only be explained by a pre-operative diagnosis on offense charged. The rule in such cases is that while profession. 51 Petitioner should have explained to
his part that the condition of appendicitis the prosecution must prove the negative ingredient Catherine's parents the actual circumstances
was not yet attended by complications (i.e., a of the offense, it needs only to present the best surrounding Catherine's death, how, in other words,
ruptured appendix and peritonitis). evidence procurable under the circumstances, in a simple appendectomy procedure upon an
order to shift the burden of disproving or countering ambulatory patient could have led to such fatal
The above circumstances do strongly indicate that the proof of the negative ingredient to the accused, consequences.
the rupture of the patient's appendix provided that such initial evidence establishes at
occurred during the appendectomy procedure, that least on a prima facie basis the guilt of the By way of resume, in the case at bar, we consider
is, at a time and place the operating room accused. 49 This rule is particularly applicable where that the chain of circumstances above noted,
where the two (2) accused were in full control of the negative ingredient of the offense is of such a namely: (1) the failure of petitioner and Dr. Madrid
the situation and could determine decisively what nature or character as, under the circumstances, to to appreciate the serious post-surgery condition of
needed to be done in respect of the patient. 45This be specially within the knowledge or control of the their patient and to monitor her condition and
circumstance must be considered in conjunction accused. 50 In the instant case, the Court is bound provide close patient care to her; (2) the summons

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 26 of 80

of petitioner by Dr. Madrid and the cardiologist after Except for the two hearing sessions when witnesses subject only to the modification that the indemnity
the patient's heart attack on the very evening that Domingo Acosta was cross-examined and recross- for the death of Catherine Acosta is hereby
the surgery was completed; (3) the low level of examined by Atty. Puerto, petitioner was present increased to P50,000.00, in line with current
care and diligence exhibited by petitioner in failing during all the sessions when the other prosecution jurisprudence. 58
to correct Dr. Madrid's prescription of Nubain for witnesses were presented and during which Atty.
post-operative pain; (4) the extraordinary failure or Puerto extensively cross-examined them in behalf SO ORDERED.
refusal of petitioner and Dr. Madrid to inform the of petitioner and Dr. Madrid. This counsel elicited
parents of Catherine Acosta of her true condition from the two (2) expert witnesses for the
after surgery, in disregard of the requirements of prosecution testimony favorable to petitioner and
the Code of Medical Ethics; and (5) the failure of which was relied upon by the latter in this
petitioner and Dr. Madrid to prove that they had in proceeding. 54 The record further indicates that if
6. Reodica vs ca
fact exercised the necessary and appropriate petitioner indeed entertained substantial doubts
degree of care and diligence to prevent the sudden about the capability of Atty. Puerto, he could have
decline in the condition of Catherine Acosta and her easily terminated the services of that counsel and
death three (3) days later, leads the Court to the retained a new one, or sought from the trial court
[G.R. No. 125066. July 8, 1998]
conclusion, with moral certainty, that petitioner and the appointment of counsel
Dr. Madrid were guilty of simple negligence de oficio, during the ample opportunity given from
resulting in homicide. the time Atty. Puerto manifested his intent to file a
demurrer on 16 October 1985, to the submission of
ISABELITA REODICA, petitioner, vs. COURT OF
In addition to the main arguments raised by the case for decision on 25 June 1986 and before
APPEALS, and PEOPLE OF THE
petitioner earlier, he also raised an ancillary, the promulgation of judgment on 19 September
PHILIPPINES, respondents.
constitutional claim of denial of due process. He 1986. 55 During all this time, petitioner could have
contends that he was deprived of his right to have obtained leave of court to present evidence in his
behalf in lieu of a demurrer, or to submit a DECISION
competent representation at trial, and to have his
cause adequately heard, because his counsel of memorandum for the defense. After promulgation DAVIDE, JR., J.:
record, Atty. Jose B. Puerto, was "incompetent" and of the judgment of conviction, petitioner did not
exhibited "gross negligence" by manifesting an seek a new trial, but permitted Atty. Puerto to
On the evening of 17 October 1987, petitioner
intent to file a demurrer to the evidence, in failing obtain leave from the trial court to continue on bail
Isabelita Reodica was driving a van along Doa
to present evidence in his behalf and in omitting to during the pendency of the proceedings before the
Soledad Avenue, Better Living Subdivision,
file a defense memorandum for the benefit of Court of Appeals. 56 Indeed, petitioner replaced
Paraaque, Metro Manila. Allegedly because of her
Judge Yuzon, after the latter took over the case at Atty. Puerto as counsel only upon institution of the
recklessness, her van hit the car of complainant
the end of trial and before the Judge rendered his present petition. 57
Norberto Bonsol. As a result, complainant sustained
decision. 52Petitioner submits he is entitled to a new physical injuries, while the damage to his car
trial. 53 Petitioner's constitutional objection is plainly an amounted to P8,542.00.
afterthought.
These contentions do not persuade. An examination Three days after the incident, or on 20 October
of the record indicates that Atty. Puerto represented WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals 1987, the complainant filed an Affidavit of
petitioner during trial with reasonable competence. dated 28 November 1988 is hereby AFFIRMED,

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 27 of 80

Complaint[1] against petitioner with the Fiscals which required medical attendance for a period of As to the sum of P13,542.00, this represented the
Office. less that nine (9) days and incapacitated him from cost of the car repairs (P8,542.00) and medical
performing his customary labor for the same period expenses (P5,000.00).
On 13 January 1988, an information [2] was filed of time.
before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati Petitioner appealed from the decision to the
(docketed as Criminal Case No. 33919) charging Court of Appeals, which docketed the case as CA-
Upon arraignment, petitioner pleaded not guilty
petitioner with Reckless Imprudence Resulting in G.R. CR No. 14660. After her motions for extension
to the charge. Trial then ensued.
Damage to Property with Slight Physical Injury. The of time to file her brief were granted, she filed a
information read: On 31 January 1991, the RTC of Makati, Branch Motion to Withdraw Appeal for Probation Purposes,
nd 145, rendered a decision[3] convicting petitioner of and to Suspend, Ex Abundanti Cautela, Period for
The undersigned 2 Asst. Fiscal accuses Filing Appellants Brief. However, respondent Court
the quasi offense of reckless imprudence resulting
Isabelita Reodica of the crime of Reckless
in damage to property with slight physical injuries, of Appeals denied this motion and directed
Imprudence Resulting in Damage to petitioner to file her brief.[6]
and sentencing her:
Property with Slight Physical Injury as
follows: [t]o suffer imprisonment of six (6) months After passing upon the errors imputed by
of arresto mayor, and to pay the petitioner to the trial court, respondent Court of
That on or about the 17th day of October, 1987 in complainant, Norberto Bonsol y Appeals rendered a decision[7] on 31 January 1996
the Municipality of Paraaque, Metro Manila, Atienza, the sum of Thirteen Thousand affirming the appealed decision.
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Five Hundred Forty-Two (P13,542),
Petitioner subsequently filed a motion for
Honorable Court, the abovementioned accused, Philippine Currency, without subsidiary
reconsideration[8] raising new issues, thus:
Isabelita Velasco Reodica, being then the driver impairment in case of insolvency; and to
and/or person in charge of a Tamaraw bearing plate pay the costs.[4] NOW THAT AN ACQUITTAL SEEMS
no. NJU-306, did then and there willfully, unlawfully IMPOSSIBLE, MAY WE REVISIT THE
The trial court justified imposing a 6-month
and feloniously drive, manage and operate the PENALTY AND MOVE THAT IT BE
same in a reckless, careless, negligent and prison term in this wise:
REVIEWED AND SET ASIDE SINCE IT IS
imprudent manner, without regard to traffic laws, As a result of the reckless imprudence of RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED TO BE ERROR
rules and regulations and without taking the the accused, complainant suffered slight TO COMPLEX DAMAGE TO PROPERTY AND
necessary care and precaution to avoid damage to physical injuries (Exhs. D, H and I). In SLIGHT PHYSICAL INJURIES, AS BOTH
property and injuries to person, causing by such view of the resulting physical injuries, the ARE LIGHT OFFENSES, OVER WHICH THE
negligence, carelessness and imprudence the said penalty to be imposed is not fine, but RESPONDENT COURT HAD NO
vehicle to bump/collide with a Toyota Corolla imprisonment (Gregorio, Fundamental of JURISDICTION AND EVEN ASSUMING
bearing plate no. NIM-919 driven and owned by Criminal Law Review, Eight Edition 1988, SUCH JURISDICTION, IT CANNOT IMPOSE
Norberto Bonsol, thereby causing damage p. 711). Slight physical injuries thru A PENALTY IN EXCESS OF WHAT IS
amounting to P8,542.00, to the damage and reckless imprudence is now punished with AUTHORIZED BY LAW.[9]
prejudice of its owner, in the aforementioned penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum
amount of P8,542.00. period (People v. Aguiles, L-11302, .........
October 28, 1960, cited in Gregorios book,
That as further consequence due to the strong p. 718).[5]
impact, said Norberto Bonsol suffered bodily injuries

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 28 of 80

REVERSAL OF THE DECISION REMAINS IS ARRESTO MENOR AND such quasi offense was arresto menor not arresto
POSSIBLE ON GROUNDS OF NOT ARRESTO MAYOR. IT IS mayor.
PRESCRIPTION OR LACK OF GRAVE ERROR FOR THE
JURISDICTION.[10] RESPONDENT COURT TO As regards the second assigned error,
petitioner avers that the courts below should have
PUNISH PETITIONER MORE
In its Resolution of 24 May 1996, the Court of THAN SHE SHOULD OR pronounced that there were two separate light
Appeals denied petitioners motion for felonies involved, namely: (1) reckless imprudence
COULD BE PUNISHED
reconsideration for lack of merit, as well as her BECAUSE OF A CLERICAL with slight physical injuries; and (2) reckless
supplemental motion for reconsideration. Hence, imprudence with damage to property, instead of
ERROR COPIED FROM A
the present petition for review on certiorari under SECONDARY SOURCE. considering them a complex crime. Two light
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court premised on the felonies, she insists, do not rate a single penalty
following grounds: B. THE RESPONDENT COURT OF of arresto mayor or imprisonment of six months,
APPEALS GRAVELY ABUSED citing Lontok v. Gorgonio,[12] thus:
RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT
DECISION DATED JANUARY 31, 1996 AND COMPLEXED THE CRIME OF Where the single act of imprudence
MORE SO ITS RESOLUTION DATED MAY 24, resulted in double less serious physical
RECKLESS IMPRUDENCE
1996, ARE CONTRARY TO LAW AND RESULTING IN DAMAGE TO injuries, damage to property amounting
GROSSLY ERRONEOUS IN THAT THEY to P10,000.00 and slight physical injuries,
PROPERTY AND SLIGHT
IMPOSED A PENALTY IN EXCESS OF WHAT PHYSICAL INJURIES a chief of police did not err in filing a
IS AUTHORIZED BY LAW FOR THE CRIME separate complaint for the slight physical
IMPOSING A SINGLE
OF RECKLESS IMPRUDENCE RESULTING IN EXCESSIVE PENALTY IN ITS injuries and another complaint for
SLIGHT PHYSICAL INJURIES, ON THE the lesiones menos graves and damage to
ELLIPTICAL RESOLUTION OF
BASIS OF A CLERICAL ERROR IN A MAY 24, 1996. property (Arcaya vs. Teleron, L-37446,
SECONDARY SOURCE. May 31, 1974, 57 SCRA 363, 365).
C. THE RESPONDENT COURT OF
A IN THE CASE OF PEOPLE V. APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED .........
AGUILAR,[11] THE SAME CASE WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE
WHERE THE COURT A TRIAL COURTS DECISION
QUO BASED ITS FINDING OF The case of Angeles vs. Jose, 96 Phil. 151,
NOTWITHSTANDING THE cited by investigating fiscal, is different from
A PENALTY WHEN IT DEFENSE OF PRESCRIPTION
AFFIRMED THE DECISION OF the instant case because in that case the
AND LACK OF JURISDICTION. negligent act resulted in the offenses
THE REGIONAL TRIAL
COURT, WHAT WAS STATED Anent the first ground, petitioner claims that of lesiones menos graves and damage to
IN THE ORIGINAL TEXT OF the courts below misquoted not only the title, but property which were both less grave felonies
SAID CASE IS THAT THE likewise the ruling of the case cited as authority and which, therefore, constituted a complex
PENALTY FOR SLIGHT regarding the penalty for slight physical injuries crime.
PHYSICAL through reckless imprudence. Concretely, the title
INJURIES THROUGH of the case was not People v. Aguiles, but People v. In the instant case, following the ruling in
RECKLESS IMPRUDENCE Aguilar; while the ruling was that the penalty for the Turla case, the offense of lesiones

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 29 of 80

leves through reckless imprudence should have rules on summary procedure; therefore, only the In her Reply to the Comment of the OSG,
been charged in a separate information. filing with the proper Metropolitan Trial Court could petitioner expressed gratitude and appreciation to
have tolled the statute of limitations, this time the OSG in joining cause with her as to the first
She then suggests that at worst, the penalties of invoking Zaldivia v. Reyes.[13] assigned error. However, she considers the OSGs
two light offenses, both imposable in their reliance on Buerano v. Court of Appeals [18] as
In its Comment filed on behalf of public misplaced, for nothing there validates the
maximum period and computed or added together,
respondents, the Office of the Solicitor General
only sum up to 60 days imprisonment and not six complexing of the crime of reckless imprudence
(OSG) agrees with petitioner that the penalty with physical injuries and damage to property;
months as imposed by the lower courts.
should have been arresto menor in its maximum besides, in that case, two separate informations
On the third assigned error, petitioner insists period, instead of arresto mayor, pursuant to Article were filed -- one for slight and serious physical
that the offense of slight physical injuries through 365 of the Revised Penal Code. injuries through reckless imprudence and the other
reckless imprudence, being punishable only for damage to property through reckless
As to the second assigned error, the OSG
by arresto menor, is a light offense; as such, it imprudence. She then insists that in this case,
contends that conformably with Buerano v. Court of
prescribes in two months. Here, since the following Arcaya v. Teleron[19] and Lontok v.
Appeals,[14] which frowns upon splitting of crimes
information was filed only on 13 January 1988, or Gorgonio, [20]
two informations should have been
and prosecution, it was proper for the trial court to
almost three months from the date the vehicular filed. She likewise submits that Cuyos v.
complex reckless imprudence with slight physical
collision occurred, the offense had already Garcia[21] would only apply here on the assumption
injuries and damage to property because what the
prescribed, again citing Lontok, thus: that it was proper to complex damage to property
law seeks to penalize is the single act of reckless
In the instant case, following the ruling in imprudence, not the results thereof; hence, there through reckless imprudence with slight physical
the Turla case, the offense of lesiones was no need for two separate informations. injuries through reckless imprudence. Chico v.
leves through reckless imprudence should Isidro[22] is likewise inapposite, for it deals with
To refute the third assigned error, the OSG attempted homicide, which is not covered by the
have been charged in a separate
submits that although the Municipal Trial Court had Rule on Summary Procedure.
information. And since, as a light offense,
jurisdiction to impose arresto menor for slight
it prescribes in two months, Lontoks Petitioner finally avers that People v.
physical injuries, the Regional Trial Court properly
criminal liability therefor was already Cuaresma[23] should not be given retroactive effect;
took cognizance of this case because it had the
extinguished (Arts. 89[5], 90 and 91, otherwise, it would either unfairly prejudice her or
jurisdiction to impose the higher penalty for the
Revised Penal Code in relation to sec. 2[e] render nugatory the en banc ruling
damage to property, which was a fine equal to
and [f], Rule 117, Rules of Court). The trial in Zaldivia[24] favorable to her.
thrice the value of P8,542.00. On this score, the
court committed a grave abuse of
OSG cites Cuyos v. Garcia.[15]
discretion in not sustaining Lontoks motion The pleadings thus raise the following issues:
to quash that part of the information The OSG then debunks petitioners defense of I. Whether the penalty imposed on
charging him with that light offense. prescription of the crime, arguing that the petitioner is correct.
prescriptive period here was tolled by the filing of
Petitioner further claims that the information was
the complaint with the fiscals office three days after II. Whether the quasi offenses of
filed with the wrong court, since Regional Trial
the incident, pursuant to People v. reckless imprudence resulting in
Courts do not deal with arresto menor cases. She
Cuaresma[16] and Chico v. Isidro.[17] damage to property in the
submits that damage to property and slight physical
amount of P8,542.00 and
injuries are light felonies and thus covered by the
reckless imprudence resulting in

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 30 of 80

slight physical injuries are light correccional in its medium period; if it The provisions contained in this article
felonies. would have constituted a less grave felony, shall not be applicable:
the penalty of arresto mayor in its
III. Whether the rule on complex minimum and medium periods shall be 1. When the penalty provided for the offense is
crimes under Article 48 of the imposed; if it would have constituted a equal to or lower than those provided in the first
Revised Penal Code applies to light felony, the penalty of arresto two paragraphs of this article, in which case the
the quasi offenses in question. menor in its maximum period shall be courts shall impose the penalty next lower in
IV. Whether the duplicity of the imposed. degree than that which should be imposed in the
information may be questioned period which they may deem proper to apply.
Any person who, by simple imprudence or
for the first time on appeal. negligence, shall commit an act which
would otherwise constitute a grave felony, According to the first paragraph of the
V. Whether the Regional Trial Court
shall suffer the penalty of arresto mayor in aforequoted Article, the penalty for reckless
had jurisdiction over the offenses
its medium and maximum periods; if it imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries, a
in question.
would have constituted a less serious light felony, is arresto menor in its maximum
VI. Whether the quasi offenses in felony, the penalty of arresto mayor in its period, with a duration of 21 to 30 days. If the
question have already minimum period shall be imposed. offense of slight physical injuries is, however,
prescribed. committed deliberately or with malice, it is
When the execution of the act covered by penalized with arresto menor under Article 266 of
this article shall have only resulted in the Revised Penal Code, with a duration of 1 day to
damage to the property of another, the 30 days. Plainly, the penalty then under Article 266
I. The Proper Penalty.
offender shall be punished by a fine may be either lower than or equal to the penalty
ranging from an amount equal to the value prescribed under the first paragraph of Article
We agree with both petitioner and the OSG that of said damages to three times such value, 365. This being the case, the exception in the sixth
the penalty of six months of arresto mayor imposed but which shall in no case be less than 25 paragraph of Article 365 applies. Hence, the proper
by the trial court and affirmed by respondent Court pesos. penalty for reckless imprudence resulting in slight
of Appeals is incorrect. However, we cannot physical injuries is public censure, this being the
A fine not exceeding 200 pesos and
subscribe to their submission that the penalty penalty next lower in degree to arresto menor.[25]
censure shall be imposed upon any person
of arresto menor in its maximum period is the who, by simple imprudence or negligence, As to reckless imprudence resulting in damage
proper penalty. shall cause some wrong which, if done to property in the amount of P8,542.00, the third
Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code provides: maliciously, would have constituted a light paragraph of Article 365, which provides for the
felony. penalty of fine, does not apply since the reckless
Art. 365. Imprudence and negligence. Any imprudence in this case did not result in damage to
person who, by reckless imprudence, shall In the imposition of these penalties, the
property only.What applies is the first paragraph of
commit any act which, had it been courts shall exercise their sound discretion,
Article 365, which provides for arresto mayor in its
intentional, would constitute a grave without regard to the rules prescribed in
minimum and medium periods (1 month and 1 day
felony, shall suffer the penalty of arresto Article 64.
to 4 months) for an act committed through reckless
mayor in its maximum period to prision imprudence which, had it been intentional, would

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 31 of 80

have constituted a less grave felony. Note that if As earlier stated, reckless imprudence resulting the same to be applied in its maximum
the damage to the extent of P8,542.00 were caused in slight physical injuries is punishable by public period.
deliberately, the crime would have been malicious censure only. Article 9, paragraph 3, of the Revised
mischief under Article 329 of the Revised Penal Penal Code defines light felonies as infractions of Clearly, if a reckless, imprudent or negligent
act results in two or more grave or less grave
Code, and the penalty would then be arresto law carrying the penalty of arresto menor or a fine
mayor in its medium and maximum periods (2 not exceeding P200.00, or both. Since public felonies, a complex crime is committed. However,
in Lontok v. Gorgonio,[27] this Court declared that
months and 1 day to 6 months which is higher than censure is classified under Article 25 of the Code as
that prescribed in the first paragraph of Article a light penalty, and is considered under the where one of the resulting offenses in criminal
negligence constitutes a light felony, there is no
365). If the penalty under Article 329 were equal to graduated scale provided in Article 71 of the same
or lower than that provided for in the first Code as a penalty lower than arresto menor, it complex crime, thus:
paragraph, then the sixth paragraph of Article 365 follows that the offense of reckless imprudence Applying article 48, it follows that if one
would apply, i.e., the penalty next lower in degree, resulting in slight physical injuries is a light felony. offense is light, there is no complex
which is arresto menor in its maximum period crime. The resulting offenses may be
to arresto mayor in its minimum period or On the other hand, reckless imprudence also
resulting in damage to property is, as earlier treated as separate or the light felony may
imprisonment from 21 days to 2 be absorbed by the grave felony. Thus, the
months. Accordingly, the imposable penalty for discussed, penalized with arresto mayor in its
minimum and medium periods. Since arresto light felonies of damage to property and
reckless imprudence resulting in damage to slight physical injuries, both resulting from
property to the extent of P8,542.00 would mayor is a correctional penalty under Article 25 of
the Revised Penal Code, the quasi offense in a single act of imprudence, do not
be arresto mayor in its minimum and medium constitute a complex crime. They cannot
periods, which could be anywhere from a minimum question is a less grave felony not a light felony as
claimed by petitioner. be charged in one information. They are
of 1 month and 1 day to a maximum of 4 months, separate offenses subject to distinct
at the discretion of the court, since the fifth penalties (People vs. Turla, 50 Phil. 1001;
paragraph of Article 365 provides that in the See People vs. Estipona, 70 Phil. 513).
imposition of the penalties therein provided the III. Applicability of the Rule on Complex
courts shall exercise their sound discretion without Crimes. Where the single act of imprudence
regard to the rules prescribed in article 64. resulted in double less serious physical
injuries, damage to property amounting
Since criminal negligence may, as here, result to P10,000 and slight physical injuries, a
in more than one felony, should Article 48 of the chief of police did not err in filing a
II. Classification of the Quasi Offense in Revised Code on complex crimes be applied? Article separate complaint for the slight physical
Question. 48 provides as follows: injuries and another complaint for
the lesiones menos graves and damage to
ART. 48. Penalty for complex
Felonies are committed not only by means of property [Arcaya vs. Teleron, L-37446,
crimes. -- When a single act constitutes
deceit (dolo), but likewise by means of fault May 31, 1974, 57 SCRA 363, 365].
two or more grave or less grave felonies,
(culpa). There is deceit when the wrongful act is or when an offense is necessary a means Hence, the trial court erred in considering the
performed with deliberate intent; and there is fault for committing the other, the penalty for following felonies as a complex crime: the less
when the wrongful act results from imprudence, the most serious crime shall be imposed, grave felony of reckless imprudence resulting in
negligence, lack of foresight or lack of skill.[26] damage to property in the amount of P8,542.00

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 32 of 80

and the light felony of reckless imprudence it is intended to operate as to actions pending jurisdiction of justice of the peace and
resulting in physical injuries. before its enactment.[30] municipal courts, and since by Article 71 of
the Revised Penal Code, as amended by
At the time of the filing of the information in Section 3 of Commonwealth Act No. 217, it
this case, the law in force was Batas Pambansa Blg.
IV. The Right to Assail the Duplicity of the has placed destierro below arresto
129, otherwise known as The Judiciary mayor as a lower penalty than the latter,
Information. Reorganization Act of 1980. Section 32(2)
[31] in the absence of any express provision of
thereof provided that except in cases falling law to the contrary it is logical and
within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the
Following Lontok, the conclusion is inescapable reasonable to infer from said provisions
Regional Trial Courts and of the Sandiganbayan, the that its intention was to place offenses
here, that the quasi offense of reckless imprudence
Metropolitan Trial Courts (MeTCs), Municipal Trial
resulting in slight physical injuries should have been penalized with destierro also under the
Courts (MTCs), and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts jurisdiction of justice of the peace and
charged in a separate information because it is not
(MCTCs) had exclusive original jurisdiction over all
covered by Article 48 of the Revised Penal municipal courts and not under that of
offenses punishable with imprisonment of not courts of first instance.
Code.However, petitioner may no longer question,
exceeding four years and two months, or a fine of
at this stage, the duplicitous character of the
not more than four thousand pesos, or both fine Similarly, since offenses punishable by
information, i.e., charging two separate offenses in
and imprisonment, regardless of other imposable imprisonment of not exceeding 4 years and 2
one information, to wit: (1) reckless imprudence
accessory or other penalties, including the civil months were within the jurisdictional ambit of the
resulting in damage to property; and (2) reckless
liability arising from such offenses or predicated MeTCs, MTCs and MCTCs, it follows that those
imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries. This
thereon, irrespective of kind, nature, value or penalized with censure, which is a penalty lower
defect was deemed waived by her failure to raise it
amount thereof. than arresto menor under the graduated scale in
in a motion to quash before she pleaded to the
Article 71 of the Revised Penal Code and with a
information.[28] Under Section 3, Rule 120 of the The criminal jurisdiction of the lower courts was duration of 1 to 30 days, should also fall within the
Rules of Court, when two or more offenses are then determined by the duration of the jurisdiction of said courts. Thus, reckless
charged in a single complaint or information and imprisonment and the amount of fine prescribed by imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries was
the accused fails to object to it before trial, the law for the offense charged. The question thus cognizable by said courts.
court may convict the accused of as many offenses arises as to which court has jurisdiction over
as are charged and proved and impose on him the offenses punishable by censure, such as reckless As to the reckless imprudence resulting in
penalty for each of them.[29] imprudence resulting in slight physical injuries. damage to property in the amount of P8,542.00,
the same was also under the jurisdiction of MeTCs,
In Uy Chin Hua v. Dinglasan,[32] this Court MTCs or MCTCs because the imposable penalty
found that a lacuna existed in the law as to which therefor was arresto mayor in its minimum and
V. Which Court Has Jurisdiction Over the court had jurisdiction over offenses penalized
Quasi Offenses in Question. medium periods -- the duration of which was from 1
with destierro, the duration of which was from 6 month and 1 day to 4 months.
months and 1 day to 6 years, which was co-
extensive with prision correccional. We then Criminal Case No. 33919 should, therefore, be
The jurisdiction to try a criminal action is to be
interpreted the law in this wise: dismissed for lack of jurisdiction on the part of the
determined by the law in force at the time of the
RTC of Makati.
institution of the action, unless the statute Since the legislature has placed offenses
expressly provides, or is construed to the effect that penalized with arresto mayor under the

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 33 of 80

VI. Prescription of the Quasi Offenses in an action on the merits.[33] Thus, in Francisco v. Prescription Shall Begin to Run. Under Section 2
Question. Court of Appeals[34] and People v. Cuaresma,[35] this thereof, the period of prescription is suspended only
Court held that the filing of the complaint even with when judicial proceedings are instituted against the
the fiscals office suspends the running of the guilty party. Accordingly, this Court held that the
Pursuant to Article 90 of the Revised Penal statute of limitations. prescriptive period was not interrupted by the filing
Code, reckless imprudence resulting in slight of the complaint with the Office of the Provincial
physical injuries, being a light felony, prescribes in We cannot apply Section 9[36] of the Rule on Prosecutor, as such did not constitute a judicial
two months. On the other hand, reckless Summary Procedure, which provides that in cases proceeding; what could have tolled the prescriptive
imprudence resulting in damage to property in the covered thereby, such as offenses punishable by period there was only the filing of the information in
amount of P8,542.00, being a less grave felony imprisonment not exceeding 6 months, as in the the proper court.
whose penalty is arresto mayor in its minimum and instant case, the prosecution commences by the
medium periods, prescribes in five years. filing of a complaint or information directly with the In the instant case, as the offenses involved are
MeTC, RTC or MCTC without need of a prior covered by the Revised Penal Code, Article 91
To resolve the issue of whether preliminary examination or investigation; provided thereof and the rulings
these quasi offenses have already prescribed, it is that in Metropolitan Manila and Chartered Cities, in Francisco and Cuaresma apply. Thus, the
necessary to determine whether the filing of the said cases may be commenced only by prescriptive period for the quasi offenses in
complaint with the fiscals office three days after the information. However, this Section cannot be taken question was interrupted by the filing of the
incident in question tolled the running of the to mean that the prescriptive period is interrupted complaint with the fiscals office three days after the
prescriptive period. only by the filing of a complaint or information vehicular mishap and remained tolled pending the
Article 91 of the Revised Penal Code provides: directly with said courts. termination of this case. We cannot, therefore,
uphold petitioners defense of prescription of the
ART. 91. Computation of prescription of It must be stressed that prescription in criminal offenses charged in the information in this case.
offenses. -- The period of prescription shall cases is a matter of substantive law. Pursuant to
commence to run from the day on which Section 5(5), Article VIII of the Constitution, this WHEREFORE, the instant petition is
the crime is discovered by the offended Court, in the exercise of its rule-making power, is GRANTED. The challenged decision of respondent
party, the authorities, or their agents, not allowed to diminish, increase or modify Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 14660 is SET
and shall be interrupted by the filing of the substantive rights.[37]Hence, in case of conflict ASIDE as the Regional Trial Court, whose decision
complaint or information, and shall between the Rule on Summary Procedure was affirmed therein, had no jurisdiction over
commence to run again when such promulgated by this Court and the Revised Penal Criminal Case No. 33919.
proceedings terminate without the accused Code, the latter prevails.
Criminal Case No. 33919 is ordered
being convicted or acquitted, or are Neither does Zaldivia control in this instance. It DISMISSED.
unjustifiably stopped by any reason not must be recalled that what was involved therein
imputable to him. (emphasis supplied) No pronouncement as to costs.
was a violation of a municipal ordinance; thus, the
Notably, the aforequoted article, in declaring that applicable law was not Article 91 of the Revised SO ORDERED.
the prescriptive period shall be interrupted by the Penal Code, but Act. No. 3326, as amended,
filing of the complaint or information, does not entitled An Act to Establish Periods of Prescription
distinguish whether the complaint is filed for for Violations Penalized by Special Acts and
preliminary examination or investigation only or for Municipal Ordinances and to Provide When

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 34 of 80

7. Garcia-rueda vs pascasio Does the instant case warrant a departure from Not satisfied with the findings of the hospital,
the foregoing general rule? When a patient dies petitioner requested the National Bureau of
soon after surgery under circumstances which Investigation (NBI) to conduct an autopsy on her
indicate that the attending surgeon and husbands body. Consequently, the NBI ruled that
[G.R. No. 118141. September 5, 1997] anaesthesiologist may have been guilty of Florencios death was due to lack of care by the
negligence but upon their being charged, a series attending physician in administering
of nine prosecutors toss the responsibility of anaesthesia. Pursuant to its findings, the NBI
conducting a preliminary investigation to each other recommended that Dr. Domingo Antonio and Dr.
LEONILA GARCIA-RUEDA, petitioner, with contradictory recommendations, ping-pong Erlinda Balatbat-Reyes be charged for Homicide
vs. WILFREDO L. PASCASIO, RAUL R. style, perhaps the distraught widow is not to be through Reckless Imprudence before the Office of
ARNAU, ABELARDO L. APORTADERA JR., blamed if she finally decides to accuse the City the City Prosecutor.
Honorable CONDRADO M. VASQUEZ, all Prosecutors at the end of the line for partiality
During the preliminary investigation, what
of the Office of the Ombudsman; JESUS under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Nor
may she be entirely faulted for finally filing a transpired was a confounding series of events which
F. GUERRERO, PORFIRIO MACARAEG,
we shall try to disentangle. The case was initially
and GREGORIO A. ARIZALA, all of the petition before this Court against the Ombudsman
for grave abuse of discretion in dismissing her assigned to Prosecutor Antonio M. Israel, who had
Office of the City Prosecutor,
to inhibit himself because he was related to the
Manila, respondents. complaint against said City Prosecutors on the
ground of lack of evidence. Much as we sympathize counsel of one of the doctors. As a result, the case
was re-raffled to Prosecutor Norberto G. Leono who
DECISION with the bereaved widow, however, this Court is of
the opinion that the general rule still finds was, however, disqualified on motion of the
ROMERO, J.: petitioner since he disregarded prevailing laws and
application in instant case. In other words, the
respondent Ombudsman did not commit grave jurisprudence regarding preliminary
investigation. The case was then referred to
May this Court review the findings of the Office abuse of discretion in deciding against filing the
necessary information against public respondents of Prosecutor Ramon O. Carisma, who issued a
of the Ombudsman? The general rule has been
resolution recommending that only Dr. Reyes be
enunciated in Ocampo v. Ombudsman [1] which the Office of the City Prosecutor.
held criminally liable and that the complaint against
states:
The following facts are borne out by the Dr. Antonio be dismissed.
records.
In the exercise of its investigative power, this Court The case took another perplexing turn when
has consistently held that courts will not interfere Florencio V. Rueda, husband of petitioner Assistant City Prosecutor Josefina Santos Sioson, in
with the discretion of the fiscal or the Ombudsman Leonila Garcia-Rueda, underwent surgical operation the interest of justice and peace of mind of the
to determine the specificity and adequacy of the at the UST hospital for the removal of a stone parties, recommended that the case be re-raffled
averments of the offense charged. He may dismiss blocking his ureter. He was attended by Dr. on the ground that Prosecutor Carisma was partial
the complaint forthwith if he finds it to be Domingo Antonio, Jr. who was the surgeon, while to the petitioner.Thus, the case was transferred to
insufficient in form and substance or if he otherwise Dr. Erlinda Balatbat-Reyes was the Prosecutor Leoncia R. Dimagiba, where a volte
finds no ground to continue with the inquiry; or he anaesthesiologist. Six hours after the surgery, face occurred again with the endorsement that the
may proceed with the investigation of the complaint however, Florencio died of complications of complaint against Dr. Reyes be dismissed and
if, in his view, it is in due and proper form. unknown cause, according to officials of the UST instead, a corresponding information be filed
Hospital.[2] against Dr. Antonio. Petitioner filed a motion for

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 35 of 80

reconsideration, questioning the findings of power, public assistance function, authority to Whether such transfers were due to any outside
Prosecutor Dimagiba. inquire and obtain information, and function to pressure or ulterior motive is a matter of
adopt, institute and implement preventive evidence. One would have expected the
Pending the resolution of petitioners motion for measures. [4] Ombudsman, however, to inquire into what could
reconsideration regarding Prosecutor Dimagibas hardly qualify as standard operating procedure,
resolution, the investigative pingpong continued As protector of the people, the Office of the given the surrounding circumstances of the case.
when the case was again assigned to another Ombudsman has the power, function and duty to
prosecutor, Eudoxia T. Gualberto, who act promptly on complaints filed in any form or While it is true that a preliminary investigation
recommended that Dr. Reyes be included in the manner against public officials and to investigate is essentially inquisitorial, and is often the only
criminal information of Homicide through Reckless any act or omission of any public official when such means to discover who may be charged with a
Imprudence. While the recommendation of act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, crime, its function is merely to determine the
Prosecutor Gualberto was pending, the case was improper or inefficient. [5] existence of probable cause. [8] Probable cause has
transferred to Senior State Prosecutor Gregorio A. been defined as the existence of such fact and
While the Ombudsman has the full discretion to
Arizala, who resolved to exonerate Dr. Reyes from circumstances as would excite the belief, in a
any wrongdoing, a resolution which was approved determine whether or not a criminal case should be reasonable mind, acting on the facts within the
filed, this Court is not precluded from reviewing the
by both City Prosecutor Porfirio G. Macaraeg and knowledge of the prosecution, that the person
City Prosecutor Jesus F. Guerrero. Ombudsmans action when there is an abuse of charged was guilty of the crime for which he was
discretion, in which case Rule 65 of the Rules of prosecuted.[9]
Aggrieved, petitioner filed graft charges Court may exceptionally be invoked pursuant to
specifically for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Section I, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution. [6] Probable cause is a reasonable ground of
Act No. 3019 [3] against Prosecutors Guerrero, presumption that a matter is, or may be, well
Macaraeg, and Arizala for manifest partiality in In this regard, grave abuse of discretion has founded, such a state of facts in the mind of the
been defined as where a power is exercised in an
favor of Dr. Reyes before the Office of the prosecutor as would lead a person of ordinary
Ombudsman. However, on July 11, 1994, the arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion caution and prudence to believe, or entertain an
or personal hostility so patent and gross as to
Ombudsman issued the assailed resolution honest or strong suspicion, that a thing is so. The
dismissing the complaint for lack of evidence. amount to evasion of positive duty or virtual refusal term does not mean actual and positive cause nor
to perform a duty enjoined by, or in contemplation does it import absolute certainty. It is merely based
In fine, petitioner assails the exercise of the of law. [7] on opinion and reasonable belief. Thus, a finding of
discretionary power of the Ombudsman to review
From a procedural standpoint, it is certainly odd probable cause does not require an inquiry into
the recommendations of the government whether there is sufficient evidence to procure a
prosecutors and to approve and disapprove the why the successive transfers from one prosecutor to
another were not sufficiently explained in the conviction. It is enough that it is believed that the
same. Petitioner faults the Ombudsman for, act or omission complained of constitutes the
allegedly in grave abuse of discretion, refusing to Resolution of the Ombudsman. Being the proper
investigating authority with respect to misfeasance, offense charged. Precisely, there is a trial for the
find that there exists probable cause to hold public reception of evidence of the prosecution in support
respondent City Prosecutors liable for violation of non-feasance and malfeasance of public officials,
the Ombudsman should have been more vigilant of the charge.[10]
Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019.
and assiduous in determining the reasons behind In the instant case, no less than the NBI
Preliminarily, the powers and functions of the the buckpassing to ensure that no irregularity took pronounced after conducting an autopsy that there
Ombudsman have generally been categorized into place. was indeed negligence on the part of the attending
the following: investigatory powers, prosecutory

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 36 of 80

physicians in administering the anaesthesia. [11] The Evidently, when the victim employed the proximate cause of the patients injury. [18] Indeed
fact of want of competence or diligence is services of Dr. Antonio and Dr. Reyes, a physician- here, a causal connection is discernible from the
evidentiary in nature, the veracity of which can best patient relationship was created. In accepting the occurrence of the victims death after the negligent
be passed upon after a full-blown trial for it is case, Dr. Antonio and Dr. Reyes in effect act of the anaesthesiologist in administering the
virtually impossible to ascertain the merits of a represented that, having the needed training and anesthesia, a fact which, if confirmed, should
medical negligence case without extensive skill possessed by physicians and surgeons warrant the filing of the appropriate criminal
investigation, research, evaluation and practicing in the same field, they will employ such case. To be sure, the allegation of negligence is not
consultations with medical experts. Clearly, the City training, care and skill in the treatment of their entirely baseless. Moreover, the NBI deduced that
Prosecutors are not in a competent position to pass patients.[13] They have a duty to use at least the the attending surgeons did not conduct the
judgment on such a technical matter, especially same level of care that any other reasonably necessary interview of the patient prior to the
when there are conflicting evidence and competent doctor would use to treat a condition operation. It appears that the cause of the death of
findings. The bases of a partys accusation and under the same circumstances. The breach of these the victim could have been averted had the proper
defenses are better ventilated at the trial proper professional duties of skill and care, or their drug been applied to cope with the symptoms of
than at the preliminary investigation. improper performance, by a physician surgeon malignant hyperthermia. Also, we cannot ignore the
whereby the patient is injured in body or in health, fact that an antidote was readily available to
A word on medical malpractice or negligence constitutes actionable malpractice.[14] Consequently, counteract whatever deleterious effect the
cases. in the event that any injury results to the patient anaesthesia might produce. [19] Why these
from want of due care or skill during the operation, precautionary measures were disregarded must be
In its simplest terms, the type of lawsuit which has the surgeons may be held answerable in damages sufficiently explained.
been called medical malpractice or, more for negligence.[15]
appropriately, medical negligence, is that type of The City Prosecutors were charged with
claim which a victim has available to him or her to Moreover, in malpractice or negligence cases violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
redress a wrong committed by a medical involving the administration of anaesthesia, the Practices Act which requires the following facts:
professional which has caused bodily harm. necessity of expert testimony and the availability of
the charge of res ipsa loquitur to the plaintiff, have 1. The accused is a public officer discharging
In order to successfully pursue such a claim, a been applied in actions against anaesthesiologists administrative or official functions or private
patient must prove that a health care provider, in to hold the defendant liable for the death or injury persons charged in conspiracy with them;
most cases a physician, either failed to do of a patient under excessive or improper
something which a reasonably prudent health care anaesthesia.[16] Essentially, it requires two-pronged 2. The public officer committed the prohibited act
provider would have done, or that he or she did evidence: evidence as to the recognized standards during the performance of his official duty or in
something that a reasonably prudent provider of the medical community in the particular kind of relation to his public position;
would not have done; and that that failure or action case, and a showing that the physician in question
caused injury to the patient.[12] negligently departed from this standard in his
3. The public officer acted with manifest partiality,
treatment.[17]
evident bad faith or gross, inexcusable negligence;
Hence, there are four elements involved in Another element in medical negligence cases is and
medical negligence cases: duty, breach, injury and causation which is divided into two inquiries:
proximate causation. whether the doctors actions in fact caused the harm 4. His action caused undue injury to the
to the patient and whether these were the Government or any private party, or gave any party

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 37 of 80

any unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference In exercising his discretion under the This is a petition for review of the decision [1] of
to such parties. [20] circumstances, the Ombudsman acted within his the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 36551
power and authority in dismissing the complaint affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court,
Why did the complainant, petitioner in instant against the Prosecutors and this Court will not Branch IX, Cebu City which dismissed a complaint
case, elect to charge respondents under the above interfere with the same. for damages filed by petitioners against
law? respondents.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the
While a party who feels himself aggrieved is at instant petition is DISMISSED, without prejudice to The facts are as follows:
liberty to choose the appropriate weapon from the the filing of an appeal by the petitioner with the
Petitioner Leah Alesna Reyes is the wife of the
armory, it is with no little surprise that this Court Secretary of Justice assailing the dismissal of her
criminal complaint by the respondent City late Jorge Reyes. The other petitioners, namely,
views the choice made by the complainant widow.
Rose Nahdja, Johnny, Lloyd, and Kristine, all
Prosecutors. No costs.
To our mind, the better and more logical surnamed Reyes, were their children. Five days
remedy under the circumstances would have been SO ORDERED. before his death on January 8, 1987, Jorge had
to appeal the resolution of the City Prosecutors been suffering from a recurring fever with
dismissing the criminal complaint to the Secretary chills. After he failed to get relief from some home
of Justice under the Department of Justices Order medication he was taking, which consisted of
No. 223, [21] otherwise known as the 1993 Revised analgesic, antipyretic, and antibiotics, he decided to
8. Reyes vs sister of mercy hospital see the doctor.
Rules on Appeals From Resolutions In Preliminary
Investigations/Reinvestigations, as amended by
On January 8, 1987, he was taken to the Mercy
Department Order No. 359, Section 1 of which
Community Clinic by his wife. He was attended to
provides:
[G.R. No. 130547. October 3, 2000] by respondent Dr. Marlyn Rico, resident physician
and admitting physician on duty, who gave Jorge a
Section 1. What May Be Appealed. - Only physical examination and took his medical
resolutions of the Chief State Prosecutor/Regional history. She noted that at the time of his admission,
State Prosecutor/Provincial or City Prosecutor Jorge was conscious, ambulatory, oriented,
LEAH ALESNA REYES, ROSE NAHDJA, JOHNNY,
dismissing a criminal complaint may be the coherent, and with respiratory distress.[2] Typhoid
and minors LLOYD and KRISTINE, all
subject of an appeal to the Secretary of Justice fever was then prevalent in the locality, as the clinic
surnamed REYES, represented by their
except as otherwise provided in Section 4 hereof. had been getting from 15 to 20 cases of typhoid per
mother, LEAH ALESNA
REYES, petitioners, vs. SISTERS OF month.[3] Suspecting that Jorge could be suffering
What action may the Secretary of Justice take MERCY HOSPITAL, SISTER ROSE from this disease, Dr. Rico ordered a Widal Test, a
on the appeal? Section 9 of Order No. 223 PALACIO, DR. MARVIE BLANES, and DR. standard test for typhoid fever, to be performed on
states: The Secretary of Justice may reverse, affirm MARLYN RICO, respondents. Jorge. Blood count, routine urinalysis, stool
or modify the appealed resolution. On the other examination, and malarial smear were also made.
hand, He may motu proprio or on motion of the [4]
After about an hour, the medical technician
DECISION
appellee, dismiss outright the appeal on specified submitted the results of the test from which Dr.
grounds. [22] MENDOZA, J.: Rico concluded that Jorge was positive for typhoid
fever. As her shift was only up to 5:00 p.m., Dr.

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 38 of 80

Rico indorsed Jorge to respondent Dr. Marvie forty years old. The cause of his death was in addition to the testimonies of the parties, the
Blanes. Ventricular Arrythemia Secondary to Hyperpyrexia testimonies of doctors as expert witnesses were
and typhoid fever. presented.
Dr. Marvie Blanes attended to Jorge at around
six in the evening. She also took Jorges history and On June 3, 1987, petitioners filed before the Petitioners offered the testimony of Dr. Apolinar
gave him a physical examination. Like Dr. Rico, her Regional Trial Court of Cebu City a complaint [6]for Vacalares, Chief Pathologist at the Northern
impression was that Jorge had typhoid fever. damages against respondents Sisters of Mercy, Mindanao Training Hospital, Cagayan de Oro
Antibiotics being the accepted treatment for typhoid Sister Rose Palacio, Dr. Marvie Blanes, Dr. Marlyn City. On January 9, 1987, Dr. Vacalares performed
fever, she ordered that a compatibility test with the Rico, and nurse Josephine Pagente. On September an autopsy on Jorge Reyes to determine the cause
antibiotic chloromycetin be done on Jorge. Said test 24, 1987, petitioners amended their complaint to of his death.However, he did not open the skull to
was administered by nurse Josephine Pagente who implead respondent Mercy Community Clinic as examine the brain. His findings[9] showed that the
also gave the patient a dose of triglobe. As she did additional defendant and to drop the name of gastro-intestinal tract was normal and without any
not observe any adverse reaction by the patient to Josephine Pagente as defendant since she was no ulceration or enlargement of the nodules. Dr.
chloromycetin, Dr. Blanes ordered the first five longer connected with respondent hospital. Their Vacalares testified that Jorge did not die of typhoid
hundred milligrams of said antibiotic to be principal contention was that Jorge did not die of fever. He also stated that he had not seen a patient
administered on Jorge at around 9:00 p.m. A typhoid fever.[7] Instead, his death was due to the die of typhoid fever within five days from the onset
second dose was administered on Jorge about three wrongful administration of chloromycetin. They of the disease.
hours later just before midnight. contended that had respondent doctors
exercised due care and diligence, they would not For their part, respondents offered the
At around 1:00 a.m. of January 9, 1987, Dr. testimonies of Dr. Peter Gotiong and Dr. Ibarra
have recommended and rushed the performance of
Blanes was called as Jorges temperature rose to the Widal Test, hastily concluded that Jorge was Panopio. Dr. Gotiong is a diplomate in internal
41C. The patient also experienced chills and medicine whose expertise is microbiology and
suffering from typhoid fever, and administered
exhibited respiratory distress, nausea, vomiting, chloromycetin without first conducting sufficient infectious diseases. He is also a consultant at the
and convulsions. Dr. Blanes put him under oxygen, Cebu City Medical Center and an associate
tests on the patients compatibility with said
used a suction machine, and administered drug. They charged respondent clinic and its professor of medicine at the South Western
hydrocortisone, temporarily easing the patients University College of Medicine in Cebu City. He had
directress, Sister Rose Palacio, with negligence in
convulsions. When he regained consciousness, the failing to provide adequate facilities and in hiring treated over a thousand cases of typhoid
patient was asked by Dr. Blanes whether he had a patients. According to Dr. Gotiong, the patients
negligent doctors and nurses.[8]
previous heart ailment or had suffered from chest history and positive Widal Test results ratio of
pains in the past. Jorge replied he did not. [5] After Respondents denied the charges. During the 1:320 would make him suspect that the patient had
about 15 minutes, however, Jorge again started to pre-trial conference, the parties agreed to limit the typhoid fever. As to Dr. Vacalares observation
vomit, showed restlessness, and his convulsions issues on the following: (1) whether the death of regarding the absence of ulceration in Jorges
returned. Dr. Blanes re-applied the emergency Jorge Reyes was due to or caused by the gastro-intestinal tract, Dr. Gotiong said that such
measures taken before and, in addition, valium was negligence, carelessness, imprudence, and lack of hyperplasia in the intestines of a typhoid victim may
administered. Jorge, however, did not respond to skill or foresight on the part of defendants; (2) be microscopic. He noted that since the toxic effect
the treatment and slipped into cyanosis, a bluish or whether respondent Mercy Community Clinic was of typhoid fever may lead to meningitis, Dr.
purplish discoloration of the skin or mucous negligent in the hiring of its employees; and (3) Vacalares autopsy should have included an
membrane due to deficient oxygenation of the whether either party was entitled to damages. The examination of the brain.[10]
blood. At around 2:00 a.m., Jorge died. He was case was then heard by the trial court during which,

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 39 of 80

The other doctor presented was Dr. Ibarra OF RES IPSA LOQUITUR IS NOT of care that any reasonably competent doctor would
Panopio, a member of the American Board of APPLICABLE IN THE INSTANT CASE. use to treat a condition under the same
Pathology, examiner of the Philippine Board of circumstances. It is breach of this duty which
Pathology from 1978 to 1991, fellow of the II. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS constitutes actionable malpractice.[14] As to this
COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN
Philippine Society of Pathologist, associate professor aspect of medical malpractice, the determination of
of the Cebu Institute of Medicine, and chief IT MADE AN UNFOUNDED ASSUMPTION the reasonable level of care and the breach thereof,
THAT THE LEVEL OF MEDICAL PRACTICE
pathologist of the Andres Soriano Jr. Memorial expert testimony is essential. Inasmuch as the
Hospital in Toledo City. Dr. Panopio stated that IS LOWER IN ILIGAN CITY. causes of the injuries involved in malpractice
although he was partial to the use of the culture III. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS actions are determinable only in the light of
test for its greater reliability in the diagnosis of GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT RULED FOR A scientific knowledge, it has been recognized that
typhoid fever, the Widal Test may also be LESSER STANDARD OF CARE AND expert testimony is usually necessary to support
used. Like Dr. Gotiong, he agreed that the 1:320 DEGREE OF DILIGENCE FOR MEDICAL the conclusion as to causation.[15]
ratio in Jorges case was already the maximum by PRACTICE IN ILIGAN CITY WHEN IT
which a conclusion of typhoid fever may be APPRECIATE[D] NO DOCTORS
made. No additional information may be deduced NEGLIGENCE IN THE TREATMENT OF Res Ipsa Loquitur

from a higher dilution. [11] He said that Dr. Vacalares JORGE REYES.
autopsy on Jorge was incomplete and thus
inconclusive. Petitioners action is for medical There is a case when expert testimony may be
malpractice. This is a particular form of negligence dispensed with, and that is under the doctrine
On September 12, 1991, the trial court which consists in the failure of a physician or of res ipsa loquitur. As held in Ramos v. Court of
rendered its decision absolving respondents from surgeon to apply to his practice of medicine that Appeals:[16]
the charges of negligence and dismissing petitioners degree of care and skill which is ordinarily
action for damages. The trial court likewise employed by the profession generally, under similar
dismissed respondents counterclaim, holding that, Although generally, expert medical testimony is
conditions, and in like surrounding circumstances.
in seeking damages from respondents, petitioners [12] relied upon in malpractice suits to prove that a
In order to successfully pursue such a claim, a
were impelled by the honest belief that Jorges physician has done a negligent act or that he has
patient must prove that the physician or surgeon
death was due to the latters negligence. deviated from the standard medical procedure,
either failed to do something which a reasonably
when the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor is availed by
prudent physician or surgeon would have done, or
Petitioners brought the matter to the Court of the plaintiff, the need for expert medical testimony
Appeals. On July 31, 1997, the Court of Appeals that he or she did something that a reasonably
is dispensed with because the injury itself provides
prudent physician or surgeon would not have done,
affirmed the decision of the trial court. the proof of negligence. The reason is that the
and that the failure or action caused injury to the
general rule on the necessity of expert testimony
Hence this petition. patient.[13] There are thus four elements involved in
applies only to such matters clearly within the
medical negligence cases, namely: duty, breach,
Petitioners raise the following assignment of domain of medical science, and not to matters that
injury, and proximate causation.
errors: are within the common knowledge of mankind
In the present case, there is no doubt that a which may be testified to by anyone familiar with
I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS physician-patient relationship existed between the facts. Ordinarily, only physicians and surgeons
COMMITTED A REVERSIBLE ERROR of skill and experience are competent to testify as
respondent doctors and Jorge Reyes. Respondents
WHEN IT RULED THAT THE DOCTRINE were thus duty-bound to use at least the same level to whether a patient has been treated or operated

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 40 of 80

upon with a reasonable degree of skill and the removal of his tonsils, and loss of an eye while anesthesia procedures had become so common that
care. However, testimony as to the statements and the patient was under the influence of anesthetic, even an ordinary person could tell if it was
acts of physicians and surgeons, external during or following an operation for appendicitis, administered properly, we allowed the testimony of
appearances, and manifest conditions which are among others.[17] a witness who was not an expert. In this case, while
observable by any one may be given by non-expert it is true that the patient died just a few hours after
witnesses. Hence, in cases where the res ipsa Petitioners asserted in the Court of Appeals that professional medical assistance was rendered, there
loquitur is applicable, the court is permitted to find the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applies to the is really nothing unusual or extraordinary about his
a physician negligent upon proper proof of injury to present case because Jorge Reyes was merely death. Prior to his admission, the patient already
the patient, without the aid of expert testimony, experiencing fever and chills for five days and was had recurring fevers and chills for five days
where the court from its fund of common fully conscious, coherent, and ambulant when he unrelieved by the analgesic, antipyretic, and
knowledge can determine the proper standard of went to the hospital. Yet, he died after only ten antibiotics given him by his wife. This shows that he
care. Where common knowledge and experience hours from the time of his admission. had been suffering from a serious illness and
teach that a resulting injury would not have professional medical help came too late for him.
occurred to the patient if due care had been This contention was rejected by the appellate
court. Respondents alleged failure to observe due care
exercised, an inference of negligence may be drawn
giving rise to an application of the doctrine of res was not immediately apparent to a layman so as to
Petitioners now contend that all requisites for justify application of res ipsa loquitur. The question
ipsa loquitur without medical evidence, which is the application of res ipsa loquitur were present,
ordinarily required to show not only what occurred required expert opinion on the alleged breach by
namely: (1) the accident was of a kind which does respondents of the standard of care required by the
but how and why it occurred. When the doctrine is not ordinarily occur unless someone is negligent;
appropriate, all that the patient must do is prove a circumstances. Furthermore, on the issue of the
(2) the instrumentality or agency which caused the correctness of her diagnosis, no presumption of
nexus between the particular act or omission injury was under the exclusive control of the person
complained of and the injury sustained while under negligence can be applied to Dr. Marlyn Rico. As
in charge; and (3) the injury suffered must not held in Ramos:
the custody and management of the defendant have been due to any voluntary action or
without need to produce expert medical testimony contribution of the person injured.[18]
to establish the standard of care. Resort to res ipsa . . . . Res ipsa loquitur is not a rigid or ordinary
loquitor is allowed because there is no other way, The contention is without merit. We agree with doctrine to be perfunctorily used but a rule to be
under usual and ordinary conditions, by which the the ruling of the Court of Appeals. In cautiously applied, depending upon the
patient can obtain redress for injury suffered by the Ramos case, the question was whether a circumstances of each case. It is generally
him. surgeon, an anesthesiologist, and a hospital should restricted to situations in malpractice cases where a
be made liable for the comatose condition of a layman is able to say, as a matter of common
Thus, courts of other jurisdictions have applied the patient scheduled for cholecystectomy.[19] In that knowledge and observation, that the consequences
case, the patient was given anesthesia prior to her of professional care were not as such as would
doctrine in the following situations: leaving of a
foreign object in the body of the patient after an operation. Noting that the patient was ordinarily have followed if due care had been
neurologically sound at the time of her operation, exercised. A distinction must be made between the
operation, injuries sustained on a healthy part of
the body which was not under, or in the area, of the Court applied the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur as failure to secure results, and the occurrence of
mental brain damage does not normally occur in a something more unusual and not ordinarily found if
treatment, removal of the wrong part of the body
when another part was intended, knocking out a gallblader operation in the absence of negligence of the service or treatment rendered followed the
the anesthesiologist. Taking judicial notice that usual procedure of those skilled in that particular
tooth while a patients jaw was under anesthetic for

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 41 of 80

practice. It must be conceded that the doctrine he may have had extensive experience in Q And that was way back in 1964?
of res ipsa loquitur can have no application in a suit performing autopsies, he admitted that he had yet
A Way back after my training in UP.
against a physician or a surgeon which involves the to do one on the body of a typhoid victim at the
merits of a diagnosis or of a scientific time he conducted the postmortem on Jorge Q Clinically?
treatment. The physician or surgeon is not required Reyes. It is also plain from his testimony that he
at his peril to explain why any particular diagnosis has treated only about three cases of typhoid fever. A Way back before my training.
was not correct, or why any particular scientific Thus, he testified that:[23] He is thus not qualified to prove that Dr. Marlyn
treatment did not produce the desired result.[20] Rico erred in her diagnosis. Both lower courts were
ATTY. PASCUAL:
therefore correct in discarding his testimony, which
Q Why? Have you not testified earlier that you is really inadmissible.
Specific Acts of Negligence have never seen a patient who died of
typhoid fever? In Ramos, the defendants presented the
testimony of a pulmonologist to prove that brain
We turn to the question whether petitioners A In autopsy. But, that was when I was a injury was due to oxygen deprivation after the
have established specific acts of negligence resident physician yet. patient had bronchospasms[24] triggered by her
allegedly committed by respondent doctors. Q But you have not performed an autopsy of a allergic response to a drug,[25] and not due to faulty
intubation by the anesthesiologist. As the issue was
Petitioners contend that: (1) Dr. Marlyn Rico patient who died of typhoid fever?
whether the intubation was properly performed by
hastily and erroneously relied upon the Widal test, A I have not seen one. an anesthesiologist, we rejected the opinion of the
diagnosed Jorges illness as typhoid fever, and pulmonologist on the ground that he was not: (1)
immediately prescribed the administration of the Q And you testified that you have never seen a an anesthesiologist who could enlighten the court
antibiotic chloromycetin;[21] and (2) Dr. Marvie patient who died of typhoid fever within five about anesthesia practice, procedure, and their
Blanes erred in ordering the administration of the days? complications; nor (2) an allergologist who could
second dose of 500 milligrams of chloromycetin A I have not seen one. properly advance expert opinion on allergic
barely three hours after the first was given. mediated processes; nor (3) a pharmacologist who
[22]
Petitioners presented the testimony of Dr. Q How many typhoid fever cases had you seen could explain the pharmacologic and toxic effects of
Apolinar Vacalares, Chief Pathologist of the while you were in the general practice of the drug allegedly responsible for the
Northern Mindanao Training Hospital, Cagayan de medicine? bronchospasms.
Oro City, who performed an autopsy on the body of
A In our case we had no widal test that time so Second. On the other hand, the two doctors
Jorge Reyes. Dr. Vacalares testified that, based on
his findings during the autopsy, Jorge Reyes did not we cannot consider that the typhoid fever is presented by respondents clearly were experts on
like this and like that. And the widal test the subject. They vouched for the correctness of Dr.
die of typhoid fever but of shock undetermined,
which could be due to allergic reaction or does not specify the time of the typhoid Marlyn Ricos diagnosis. Dr. Peter Gotiong, a
fever. diplomate whose specialization is infectious
chloromycetin overdose. We are not persuaded.
Q The question is: how many typhoid fever cases diseases and microbiology and an associate
First. While petitioners presented Dr. Apolinar professor at the Southwestern University College of
had you seen in your general practice
Vacalares as an expert witness, we do not find him Medicine and the Gullas College of Medicine,
to be so as he is not a specialist on infectious regardless of the cases now you practice?
testified that he has already treated over a
diseases like typhoid fever. Furthermore, although A I had only seen three cases.

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 42 of 80

thousand cases of typhoid fever.[26] According to A One must first understand that typhoid fever is A No, the finding would be more on the
him, when a case of typhoid fever is suspected, the toximia. The problem is complications are meninges or covering of the brain.
Widal test is normally used, [27] and if the 1:320 caused by toxins produced by the bacteria . .
results of the Widal test on Jorge Reyes had been . whether you have suffered complications to Q And in order to see those changes would it
require opening the skull?
presented to him along with the patients history, think of -- heart toxic myocardities; then you
his impression would also be that the patient was can consider a toxic meningitis and other A Yes.
suffering from typhoid fever. [28] As to the treatment complications and perforations and bleeding
of the disease, he stated that chloromycetin was in the ilium. As regards Dr. Vacalares finding during the autopsy
the drug of choice.[29] He also explained that despite that the deceaseds gastro-intestinal tract was
the measures taken by respondent doctors and the Q Even that 40-year old married patient who normal, Dr. Rico explained that, while
received medication of chloromycetin of 500 hyperplasia[31] in the payers patches or layers of the
intravenous administration of two doses of
chloromycetin, complications of the disease could milligrams intravenous, after the skin test, small intestines is present in typhoid fever, the
and received a second dose of chloromycetin same may not always be grossly visible and a
not be discounted.His testimony is as follows:[30]
of 500 miligrams, 3 hours later, the patient microscope was needed to see the texture of the
ATTY. PASCUAL: developed chills . . . rise in temperature to cells.[32]
41oC, and then about 40 minutes later the
Q If with that count with the test of positive for 1 temperature rose to 100oF, cardiac rate of Respondents also presented the testimony of
is to 320, what treatment if any would be Dr. Ibarra T. Panopio who is a member of the
150 per minute who appeared to be
given? coherent, restless, nauseating, with Philippine and American Board of Pathology, an
A If those are the findings that would be seizures: what significance could you attach examiner of the Philippine Board of Pathology, and
to these clinical changes? chief pathologist at the MetroCebu Community
presented to me, the first thing I would
consider would be typhoid fever. Hospital, Perpetual Succor Hospital, and the Andres
A I would then think of toxemia, which was toxic Soriano Jr. Memorial Medical Center. He stated that,
Q And presently what are the treatments meningitis and probably a toxic meningitis as a clinical pathologist, he recognized that the
commonly used? because of the high cardiac rate. Widal test is used for typhoid patients, although he
Q Even if the same patient who, after having did not encourage its use because a single test
A Drug of choice of chloramphenical. would only give a presumption necessitating that
given intramuscular valium, became
Q Doctor, if given the same patient and after you conscious and coherent about 20 minutes the test be repeated, becoming more conclusive at
have administered chloramphenical about 3 the second and third weeks of the disease.[33] He
later, have seizure and cyanosis and rolling
1/2 hours later, the patient associated with of eyeballs and vomitting . . . and corroborated Dr. Gotiongs testimony that the
chills, temperature - 41oC, what could danger with typhoid fever is really the possible
death: what significance would you attach to
possibly come to your mind? this development? complications which could develop like perforation,
hemorrhage, as well as liver and cerebral
A Well, when it is change in the clinical finding, A We are probably dealing with typhoid to complications.[34] As regards the 1:320 results of
you have to think of complication. meningitis. the Widal test on Jorge Reyes, Dr. Panopio stated
Q And what will you consider on the complication that no additional information could be obtained
Q In such case, Doctor, what finding if any could from a higher ratio.[35] He also agreed with Dr.
of typhoid? you expect on the post-mortem Gotiong that hyperplasia in the payers patches may
examination? be microscopic.[36]

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 43 of 80

Indeed, the standard contemplated is not what hours after the first, per instruction of Dr. Marlyn generally not reliable. Certain drugs cause
is actually the average merit among all known Rico. As held by the Court of Appeals, however: nonspecific histamine release, producing a weal-
practitioners from the best to the worst and from and-flare reaction in normal
the most to the least experienced, but the That chloromycetin was likewise a proper individuals. Immunologic activation of mast cells
reasonable average merit among the ordinarily prescription is best established by medical requires a polyvalent allergen, so a negative skin
good physicians.[37] Here, Dr. Marlyn Rico did not authority. Wilson, et. al., in Harrisons Principle of test to a univalent haptenic drug does not rule out
depart from the reasonable standard recommended Internal Medicine, 12th ed. write that anaphylactic sensitivity to that drug. (Terr,
by the experts as she in fact observed the due care chlorampenicol (which is the generic of Anaphylaxis and Urticaria in Basic and Clinical
required under the circumstances. Though the chloromycetin) is the drug of choice for typhoid Immunology, p. 349) What all this means legally is
Widal test is not conclusive, it remains a standard fever and that no drug has yet proven better in that even if the deceased suffered from an
diagnostic test for typhoid fever and, in the present promoting a favorable clinical response. anaphylactic shock, this, of itself, would not yet
case, greater accuracy through repeated testing Chlorampenicol (Chloromycetin) is specifically establish the negligence of the appellee-physicians
was rendered unobtainable by the early death of indicated for bacterial meningitis, typhoid fever, for all that the law requires of them is that they
the patient. The results of the Widal test and the rickettsial infections, bacteriodes infections, etc. perform the standard tests and perform standard
patients history of fever with chills for five days, (PIMS Annual, 1994, p. 211) The dosage likewise procedures. The law cannot require them to predict
taken with the fact that typhoid fever was then including the first administration of five hundred every possible reaction to all drugs
prevalent as indicated by the fact that the clinic had milligrams (500 mg.) at around nine oclock in the administered. The onus probandi was on the
been getting about 15 to 20 typhoid cases a month, evening and the second dose at around 11:30 the appellants to establish, before the trial court, that
were sufficient to give upon any doctor of same night was still within medically acceptable the appellee-physicians ignored standard medical
reasonable skill the impression that Jorge Reyes limits, since the recommended dose of procedure, prescribed and administered medication
had typhoid fever. chloromycetin is one (1) gram every six (6) with recklessness and exhibited an absence of the
hours. (cf. Pediatric Drug Handbook, 1st Ed., competence and skills expected of general
Dr. Rico was also justified in recommending the
Philippine Pediatric Society, Committee on practitioners similarly situated.[39]
administration of the drug chloromycetin, the drug
Therapeutics and Toxicology, 1996). The
of choice for typhoid fever. The burden of proving
intravenous route is likewise correct. (Mansser, Fourth. Petitioners correctly observe that the
that Jorge Reyes was suffering from any other
ONick, Pharmacology and Therapeutics) Even if the medical profession is one which, like the business of
illness rested with the petitioners. As they failed to
test was not administered by the physician-on-duty, a common carrier, is affected with public
present expert opinion on this, preponderant
the evidence introduced that it was Dra. Blanes who interest. Moreover, they assert that since the law
evidence to support their contention is clearly
interpreted the results remain uncontroverted. imposes upon common carriers the duty of
absent.
(Decision, pp. 16-17) Once more, this Court rejects observing extraordinary diligence in the vigilance
Third. Petitioners contend that respondent Dr. any claim of professional negligence in this regard. over the goods and for the safety of the
Marvie Blanes, who took over from Dr. Rico, was passengers,[40] physicians and surgeons should have
negligent in ordering the intravenous administration .... the same duty toward their patients.[41] They also
of two doses of 500 milligrams of chloromycetin at contend that the Court of Appeals erred when it
an interval of less than three hours. Petitioners As regards anaphylactic shock, the usual way of allegedly assumed that the level of medical practice
claim that Jorge Reyes died of anaphylactic guarding against it prior to the administration of a is lower in Iligan City, thereby reducing the
shock[38] or possibly from overdose as the second drug, is the skin test of which, however, it has been standard of care and degree of diligence required
dose should have been administered five to six observed: Skin testing with haptenic drugs is from physicians and surgeons in Iligan City.

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 44 of 80

The standard of extraordinary diligence is SO ORDERED. families from the area went to see then National
peculiar to common carriers. The Civil Code Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Lito
provides: Atienza regarding their complaint against their
Barangay Chairman, Jaime Olmedo. After their
Art. 1733. Common carriers, from the nature of meeting with Atienza and other NHA officials,
9. Varquez vs ca petitioner and his companions were met and
their business and for reasons of public policy, are
bound to observe extraordinary diligence in the interviewed by newspaper reporters at the NHA
vigilance over the goods and for the safety of the compound concerning their complaint. The next
passengers transported by them, according to the day, April 22, 1986, the following news
circumstances of each case. . . . [G.R. No. 118971. September 15, 1999] article[2]appeared in the newspaper Ang Tinig ng
Masa:
The practice of medicine is a profession
engaged in only by qualified individuals. It is a right Nananawagan kahapon kay pangulong Corazon
RODOLFO R. VASQUEZ, petitioner, vs. COURT Aquino ang 38 mahihirap na pamilya sa Tondo
earned through years of education, training, and by
OF APPEALS, THE REGIONAL TRIAL Foreshore Area na umanoy inagawan ng lupa ng
first obtaining a license from the state through
COURT OF MANILA, BRANCH 40, and kanilang barangay chairman sa pakikipagsabwatan
professional board examinations. Such license may,
THE PEOPLE OF THE sa ilang pinuno ng National Housing Authority sapul
at any time and for cause, be revoked by the
PHILIPPINES, respondents. 1980.
government. In addition to state regulation, the
conduct of doctors is also strictly governed by the
Hippocratic Oath, an ancient code of discipline and DECISION Sinabi nila na nakipagsabwatan umano si Chairman
ethical rules which doctors have imposed upon MENDOZA, J.: Jaime Olmedo ng barangay 66, Zone 6, Tondo
themselves in recognition and acceptance of their Foreshore Area, sa mga project manager ng NHA
great responsibility to society. Given these upang makamkam ang may 14 na lote ng lupa sa
The question for determination in this case is
safeguards, there is no need to expressly require of naturang lugar.
the liability for libel of a citizen who denounces a
doctors the observance of extraordinary
barangay official for misconduct in office. The
diligence. As it is now, the practice of medicine is Binanggit ni Rodolfo R. Vasquez, 40, Tagapagsalita
Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 40, found
already conditioned upon the highest degree of ng (mga) pamilyang apektado, na umaabot lang sa
petitioner guilty and fined him P1,000.00 on the
diligence. And, as we have already noted, the 487.87 metro kuwadrado ang kabuuan ng mga lupa
ground that petitioner failed to prove the truth of
standard contemplated for doctors is simply the na kinatitirikan ng mga barung-barung ng 38
the charges and that he was motivated by
reasonable average merit among ordinarily good pamilya.
vengeance in uttering the defamatory statement.
physicians. That is reasonable diligence for doctors
On appeal, the Court of Appeals, in a
or, as the Court of Appeals called it, the reasonable Naninirahan na kami sa mga lupang nabanggit
decision[1] dated February 1, 1995, affirmed. Hence,
skill and competence . . . that a physician in the sapul 1950 at pinatunayan sa mga survey ng NHA
this petition for review. The decision appealed from
same or similar locality . . . should apply. noong nakalipas na taon na may karapatan kami sa
should be reversed.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED mga lupang ito ng pamahalaan, ani Vasquez.
The facts are not in dispute. Petitioner Rodolfo
and the decision of the Court of Appeals is
R. Vasquez is a resident of the Tondo Foreshore
AFFIRMED.
Area. Sometime in April 1986, he and some 37

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 45 of 80

Pawang lupa ng gobyerno ang mga lupa at ilegal one Jaime Olmedo, chairman of Barangay 66, Zone pasugalan sa naturang lugar at maging sa mga
man na patituluhan, nagawa ito ni Olmedo sa 6 in Tondo, Manila, and with evident intent of nakawan ng manok. x x x
pakikipagsabwatan sa mga project manager at legal exposing him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule,
officers ng NHA, sabi ni Vasquez. did then and there willfully, unlawfully, feloniously with which statements, the said accused meant and
and maliciously caused the publication of an article intended to convey, as in fact he did mean and
Sinabi rin ng mga pamilya na protektado ng dating entitled 38 Pamilya Inagawan ng Lupa in Ang Tinig convey false and malicious imputations that said
pinuno ng city hall ng Maynila, MHS Minister ng Masa, a daily newspaper sold to the public and Jaime Olmedo is engaged in landgrabbing and
Conrado Benitez, at ilang pinuno ng pulisya ang of general circulation in the Philippines in its April involved in illegal gambling and stealing of chickens
barangay chairman kaya nakalusot ang mga ginawa 22, 1986 issue, which portion of the said article at the Tondo Foreshore Area, Tondo, Manila, which
nitong katiwalian. reads as follows: statements, as he well knew, were entirely false
and malicious, offensive and derogatory to the good
Bukod sa pagkamkam ng mga lupaing gobyerno, Nananawagan kahapon kay pangulong Corazon name, character and reputation of said Jaime
kasangkot din umano si Olmedo sa mga ilegal na Aquino ang 38 mahihirap na pamilya sa Tondo Olmedo, thereby tending to impeach, besmirch and
pasugalan sa naturang lugar at maging sa mga Foreshore Area na umanoy inagawan ng lupa ng destroy the honor, character and reputation of
nakawan ng manok. kanilang barangay chairman sa pakikipagsabwatan Jaime Olmedo, as in fact, the latter was exposed to
sa ilang pinuno ng National Housing Authority sapul dishonor, discredit, public hatred, contempt and
Sapin-sapin na ang mga kaso na idinulog namin 1980. ridicule.
noong nakalipas na mga taon, pero pinawalang
saysay ang lahat ng iyon, kabilang na ang tangkang Sinabi nila na nakipagsabwatan umano si Chairman Contrary to law.
pagpatay sa akin kaugnay ng pagrereklamo sa Jaime Olmedo ng barangay 66, Zone 6, Tondo
pangangamkam ng lupa noong 1984, sabi pa ni Foreshore Area sa mga project manager ng NHA Upon being arraigned, petitioner entered a plea
Vasquez. upang makamkam ang may 14 na lote ng lupa sa of not guilty, whereupon the case was tried. The
naturang lugar. prosecution presented Barangay Chairman Olmedo
Based on the newspaper article, Olmedo filed a and his neighbor, Florentina Calayag, as
complaint for libel against petitioner alleging that x x x Pawang lupa ng gobyerno ang mga lupa at witnesses. On the other hand, the defense
the latters statements cast aspersions on him and ilegal man na patituluhan, nagawa ito ni Olmedo sa presented Ciriaco Cabuhat, Nicasio Agustin,
damaged his reputation. After conducting pakikipagsabwatan sa mga project manager at legal Estrelita Felix, Fernando Rodriguez all residents of
preliminary investigation, the city prosecutor filed officers ng NHA, sabi ni Vasquez. the Tondo Foreshore Area and petitioner as its
the following information in the Regional Trial Court witnesses.
of Manila, Branch 40: Sinabi rin ng mga pamilya na protektado ng dating
On May 28, 1992, the trial court rendered
pinuno ng city hall ng Maynila, MHS Minister
judgment finding petitioner guilty of libel and
The undersigned accuses RODOLFO R. VASQUEZ of Conrado Benitez, at ilang pinuno ng pulisya ang
sentencing him to pay a fine of P1,000.00. On
the crime of libel committed as follows: barangay chairman kaya nakalusot ang mga ginawa
appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed in
nitong katiwalian.
toto. Hence, this petition for review. Petitioner
That on or about April 22, 1986, in the city of contends that
Manila, Philippines, the said accused, with malicious Bukod sa pagkamkam ng mga lupaing gobyerno,
intent of impeaching the reputation and character of kasangkot din umano si Olmedo sa mga ilegal na

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 46 of 80

I. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN . . . In his sworn statement, appellant admitted he 10. Ang ginawa kong pahayag na nailathala
AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE was the source of the libelous article (Exh. B). He sa Ang Masa ay sanhi ng aking nais na
TRIAL COURT PINPOINTING PETITIONER affirmed this fact when he testified in open court as maging mabuting mamamayan at upang
AS THE SOURCE OF THE ALLEGED follows: That his allegation on the act of maituwid ang mga katiwaliang
LIBELOUS ARTICLE. landgrabbing by Olmedo was based on the alleged nagaganap sa Tondo Foreshore Area
report and pronouncements of the NHA kung saan ako at sampu ng aking mga
II. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN representatives (p. 5, tsn, Oct. 18, 1989); that said kasamang maralitang taga-lungsod ay
AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE allegations were made by him before the local press apektado at naaapi.
TRIAL COURT THAT PETITIONER people in the pursuit of fairness and truthfulness
IMPUTED THE QUESTIONED ACTS TO and not in bad faith (pp. 8-9, id.); that the only This was likewise what he stated in his testimony in
COMPLAINANT. court both on direct[6] and on cross-examination.
inaccurate account in the published article of Ang [7]
Tinig ng Masa is the reference to the 487.87 sq.m. However, by claiming that what he had told the
III. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN reporter was made by him in the performance of a
AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE lot, on which Olmedos residence now stands,
attributed by the reporter as the lot currently civic duty, petitioner in effect admitted authorship
TRIAL COURT THAT THE ALLEGED of the article and not only of the statements
IMPUTATIONS WERE MADE occupied by appellants and his fellow complainants
(pp. 4-5, tsn, Nov. 15, 1989; pp. 4-5, tsn, January attributed to him therein, to wit:
MALICIOUSLY.
15, 1990); and that after the interview, he never
IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN expected that his statement would be the cause of Pawang lupa ng gobyerno ang mga lupa at ilegal
AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE the much-publicized libelous article (pp. 4-6, tsn, man na patituluhan, nagawa ito ni Olmedo sa
TRIAL COURT WHICH FAILED TO Nov. 15, 1989).[4] pakikipagsabwatan sa mga project manager at legal
APPRECIATE PETITIONERS DEFENSE OF officers ng NHA, sabi ni Vasquez.
TRUTH. It is true petitioner did not directly admit that
he was the source of the statements in the ....
V. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN
AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE questioned article. What he said in his sworn
TRIAL COURT THAT ALL THE ELEMENTS statement[5] was that the contents of the article are Sapin-sapin na ang mga kaso na idinulog namin
OF LIBEL WERE PROVEN. true in almost all respects, thus: noong nakalipas na mga taon, pero pinawalang
saysay ang lahat ng iyon, kabilang na ang tangkang
We will deal with these contentions in the order 9. Tama ang nakalathala sa pahayagang pagpatay sa akin kaugnay ng pagrereklamo sa
in which they are made. Ang Masa maliban na lang sa tinutukoy pangangamkam ng lupa noong 1984, sabi pa ni
na ako at ang mga kasamahang Vasquez.
First. Petitioner claims he was unfairly singled maralitang taga-lungsod ay nakatira sa
out as the source of the statements in the article humigit kumulang 487.87 square meters
when any member of the 38 complainant-families Petitioner cannot claim to have been the source
sapagkat ang nabanggit na 487.87
could have been the source of the alleged libelous of only a few statements in the article in question
square meters ay siyang kinatitirikan ng
statements.[3] The reference is to the following and point to the other parties as the source of the
bahay ni Barangay Chairman Olmedo
portion of the decision of the Court of Appeals: rest, when he admits that he was correctly
kung saan nakaloob ang anim na lote -
identified as the spokesperson of the families during
isang paglabag sa batas o regulasyon ng
the interview.
NHA;

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 47 of 80

Second. Petitioner points out that the There is publication if the material is able to obtain title to several lots in the area and
information did not set out the entire news article communicated to a third person.[13] It is not that he was involved in a number of illegal activities
as published. In fact, the second statement required that the person defamed has read or heard (attempted murder, gambling and theft of fighting
attributed to petitioner was not included in the about the libelous remark. What is material is that a cocks) were clearly defamatory. There is no merit in
information. But, while the general rule is that the third person has read or heard the libelous his contention that landgrabbing, as charged in the
information must set out the particular defamatory statement, for a mans reputation is the estimate in information, has a technical meaning in law.[16] Such
words verbatim and as published and that a which others hold him, not the good opinion which act is so alleged and proven in this case in the
statement of their substance is insufficient,[8] United he has of himself.[14] popular sense in which it is understood by ordinary
States v. Eguia, 38 Phil. 857 (1918).8 a defect in people. As held in United States v. Sotto:[17]
this regard may be cured by evidence.[9] In this On the other hand, to satisfy the element of
identifiability, it must be shown that at least a third
case, the article was presented in evidence, but . . . [F]or the purpose of determining the meaning
petitioner failed to object to its person or a stranger was able to identify him as the
of any publication alleged to be libelous that
object of the defamatory statement.[15]
introduction. Instead, he engaged in the trial of the construction must be adopted which will give to the
entire article, not only of the portions quoted in the Finally, malice or ill will must be present. Art. matter such a meaning as is natural and obvious in
information, and sought to prove it to be true. In 354 of the Revised Penal Code provides: the plain and ordinary sense in which the public
doing so, he waived objection based on the defect would naturally understand what was uttered.The
in the information. Consequently, he cannot raise Every defamatory imputation is presumed to be published matter alleged to be libelous must be
this issue at this late stage.[10] malicious, even if it be true, if no good intention construed as a whole. In applying these rules to the
and justifiable motive for making it is shown, except language of an alleged libel, the court will disregard
Third. On the main issue whether petitioner is
in the following cases: any subtle or ingenious explanation offered by the
guilty of libel, petitioner contends that what he said
publisher on being called to account. The whole
was true and was made with good motives and for
1. A private communication made by any question being the effect the publication had upon
justifiable ends.
person to another in the performance of the minds of the readers, and they not having been
To find a person guilty of libel under Art. 353 of any legal, moral or security duty; and assisted by the offered explanation in reading the
the Revised Penal Code, the following elements article, it comes too late to have the effect of
must be proved: (a) the allegation of a discreditable 2. A fair and true report, made in good removing the sting, if any there be, from the words
act or condition concerning another; (b) publication faith, without any comments or used in the publication.
of the charge; (c) identity of the person defamed; remarks, of any judicial, legislative or
and (d) existence of malice.[11] other official proceedings which are not Nor is there any doubt that the defamatory
of confidential nature, or of any remarks referred to complainant and were
An allegation is considered defamatory if it statement, report or speech delivered in published. Petitioner caused the publication of the
ascribes to a person the commission of a crime, the said proceedings, or of any other act defamatory remarks when he made the statements
possession of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or performed by public officers in the to the reporters who interviewed him.[18]
any act, omission, condition, status or circumstance exercise of their functions.
which tends to dishonor or discredit or put him in The question is whether from the fact that the
contempt, or which tends to blacken the memory of In this case, there is no doubt that the first statements were defamatory, malice can be
one who is dead.[12] three elements are present. The statements that presumed so that it was incumbent upon petitioner
Olmedo, through connivance with NHA officials, was to overcome such presumption. Under Art. 361 of

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 48 of 80

the Revised Penal Code, if the defamatory based on the investigation conducted by our Office 2. Block 261, SB 8, Area III
statement is made against a public official with which are as follows:
respect to the discharge of his official duties and Lot No. 7 is titled in the name of Jaime Olmedo,
functions and the truth of the allegation is shown, 1. Based on the subdivision plan of Block 260, SB 8, consisting an area of 151.67 sq. m. A four-door
the accused will be entitled to an acquittal even Area III, Jaime Olmedos present structure is apartment owned by Mr. Olmedo is being rented to
though he does not prove that the imputation was constructed on six lots which were awarded before uncensused residents.
published with good motives and for justifiable by the defunct Land Tenure Administration to
ends.[19] different persons as follows: 3. Block 262, SB 8, Area III
In this case, contrary to the findings of the trial
court, on which the Court of Appeals relied, Lot 4 - Juana Buenaventura - 79.76 sq. m. Lot No. 13 is allocated to Delfin Olmedo, nephew of
petitioner was able to prove the truth of his charges Jaime Olmedo, but this lot is not yet titled.
against the barangay official. His allegation that, Lot 6 - Servando Simbulan - 48.50 sq. m.
through connivance with NHA officials, complainant 4. Block 256, SB 5, Area III
was able to obtain title to several lots at the Tondo Lot 7 - Alfredo Vasquez - 78.07 sq. m.
Foreshore Area was based on the letter [20] of NHA Victoria Olmedo, uncensused, is a daughter of
Inspector General Hermogenes Fernandez to Lot 8 - Martin Gallardo - 78.13 sq. m. Jaime Olmedo. Her structure is erected on a non-
petitioners counsel which reads: titled lot. The adjacent lot is titled in the name of
Lot 9 - Daniel Bayan - 70.87 sq. m. Victoria. It was issued OCT No. 10217 with an area
09 August 1983 of 202.23 sq. m. Inside this compound is another
Lot 1 - Fortunato de Jesus - 85.08 sq. m. (OIT No. structure owned and occupied by Amelia Dofredo, a
Atty. Rene V. Sarmiento 7800) censused houseowner. The titled lot of Victoria now
has an area of 338.20 sq. m.
Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) The above-mentioned lots were not yet titled,
except for Lot 1. Fortunato de Jesus sold the said For your information.
55 Third Street lot to a certain Jovita Bercasi, a sister-in-law of
Jaime Olmedo. The other remaining lots were either (s/t) HERMOGENES C. FERNANDEZ
New Manila, Quezon City sold to Mr. Olmedo and/or to his immediate
relatives. Inspector General
Dear Atty. Sarmiento:
Lot 14 is also titled in the name of Mariano Bercasi, Public Assistance & Action Office
In connection with your request that you be father-in-law of Jaime Olmedo, with an area of
furnished with a copy of the results of the 47.40 sq. m. In addition, petitioner acted on the basis of two
investigation regarding the complaints of some memoranda,[21] both dated November 29, 1983, of
Tondo residents against Chairman Jaime Olmedo, The lot assigned to Chairman Olmedo has a total then NHA General Manager Gaudencio Tobias
we are providing you a summary of the findings area of 487.87 sq. m. recommending the filing of administrative charges
against the NHA officials responsible for the alleged

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 49 of 80

irregular consolidation of lots [in Tondo to Jaime In denouncing the barangay chairman in this Justice Brandeis has said, public discussion is a
and Victoria Olmedo.] case, petitioner and the other residents of the political duty and the greatest menace to freedom is
Tondo Foreshore Area were not only acting in their an inert people.[27]
With regard to the other imputations made by self-interest but engaging in the performance of a
petitioner against complainant, it must be noted Complainant contends that petitioner was
civic duty to see to it that public duty is discharged
that what petitioner stated was that various charges faithfully and well by those on whom such duty is actuated by vengeful political motive rather than by
(for attempted murder against petitioner, gambling, his firm conviction that he and his fellow residents
incumbent. The recognition of this right and duty of
theft of fighting cocks) had been filed by the every citizen in a democracy is inconsistent with had been deprived of a property right because of
residents against their barangay chairman but these acts attributable to their barangay chairman. The
any requirement placing on him the burden of
had all been dismissed. Petitioner was able to show proving that he acted with good motives and for Court of Appeals, sustaining complainants
that Olmedos involvement in the theft of fighting contention, held:
justifiable ends.
cocks was the subject of an affidavit-complaint,
[22]
dated October 19, 1983, signed by Fernando For that matter, even if the defamatory That the said imputations were malicious may be
Rodriguez and Ben Lareza, former barangay tanods statement is false, no liability can attach if it relates inferred from the facts that appellant and
of Barangay 66, Zone 6, Tondo.Likewise, petitioner to official conduct, unless the public official complainant are enemies, hence, accused was
presented a resolution,[23] dated March 10, 1988, of concerned proves that the statement was made motivated by vengeance in uttering said defamatory
the Office of the Special Prosecutor in TBP-87- with actual malice that is, with knowledge that it statements and that accused is a leader of Ciriaco
03694, stating that charges of malversation and was false or with reckless disregard of whether it Cabuhat who was defeated by complainant when
corrupt practices had been filed against Olmedo and was false or not. This is the gist of the ruling in the they ran for the position of barangay captain. . . .[28]
nine (9) other barangay officials but the same were landmark case of New York Times v. Sullivan,
[25]
dismissed. Indeed, the prosecutions own evidence which this Court has cited with approval in As already stated, however, in accordance with Art.
bears out petitioners statements. The prosecution several of its own decisions.[26] This is the rule of 361, if the defamatory matter either constitutes a
presented the resolution[24]in TBP Case No. 84- actual malice. In this case, the prosecution failed to crime or concerns the performance of official duties,
01854 dismissing the charge of attempted murder prove not only that the charges made by petitioner and the accused proves the truth of his charge, he
filed by petitioner against Jaime Olmedo and his were false but also that petitioner made them with should be acquitted.[29]
son-in-law, Jaime Reyes. The allegation concerning knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard
this matter is thus true. of whether they were false or not. Instead of the claim that petitioner was
politically motivated in making the charges against
It was error for the trial court to hold that A rule placing on the accused the burden of complainant, it would appear that complainant filed
petitioner only tried to prove that the complainant showing the truth of allegations of official this case to harass petitioner. Art. 360 of the
[barangay chairman] is guilty of the crimes alluded misconduct and/or good motives and justifiable Revised Penal Code provides:
to; accused, however, has not proven that the ends for making such allegations would not only be
complainant committed the crimes. For that is not contrary to Art. 361 of the Revised Penal Code. It
Persons responsible.Any person who shall publish,
what petitioner said as reported in the Ang Tinig ng would, above all, infringe on the constitutionally
exhibit, or cause the publication or exhibition of any
Masa. The fact that charges had been filed against guaranteed freedom of expression. Such a rule
defamation in writing or by similar means, shall be
the barangay official, not the truth of such charges, would deter citizens from performing their duties as
responsible for the same.
was the issue. members of a self- governing community. Without
free speech and assembly, discussions of our most
abiding concerns as a nation would be stifled. As

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 50 of 80

The author or editor of a book or pamphlet, or the 10. Fortich vs ca Following up on his first memorandum and
editor or business manager of a daily newspaper, alleging that petitioner misappropriated the amount
magazine or serial publication, shall be responsible of P1,605.00 from his collections (through non-
for the defamations contained therein to the same issuance of invoices to several customers) private
extent as if he were the author thereof. . . . [G.R. No. 120769. February 12, 1997] respondent, on June 11, 1975, submitted a second
inter-office memorandum addressed to the Regional
Yet, in this case, neither the reporter, editor, Sales Manager summarizing the findings of an initial
nor the publisher of the newspaper was charged in investigation he conducted on the matter, which he
court. What was said in an analogous case[30] may STANLEY J. FORTICH, petitioner, vs. COURT OF concluded with the following paragraph:
be applied mutatis mutandis to the case at bar: APPEALS and FELIX T.
"In addition, I would like to further inform
GALLERON, respondents.
management that S/M Stanley Fortich is an
It is curious that the ones most obviously avid mahjong player and a cockfighting
responsible for the publication of the allegedly DECISION enthusiast. In spite of several advices,
offensive news report, namely, the editorial staff there seems to be no change in his
KAPUNAN, J.:
and the periodical itself, were not at all lifestyle. Also, respondent had a similar
impleaded. The charge was leveled against the case last September 11, 1978."[3]
petitioner and, curiouser still, his clients who have For over five years since August 1973,
nothing to do with the editorial policies of the petitioner Stanley J. Fortich was employed as an After further investigation by the company
newspaper. There is here a manifest effort to area salesman of the soft drinks division of the San which found petitioner guilty of misappropriating
persecute and intimidate the petitioner for his Miguel Corporation in Dipolog City, a job which company funds, petitioner was preventively
temerity in accusing the ASAC agents who required him to collect various sums of money from suspended from his job. The order suspending
apparently enjoyed special privilegesand perhaps the retailers and buyers of the company along his petitioner also decreed his dismissal "upon receipt
also immunitiesduring those oppressive times. The designated route. of clearance from the Ministry of Labor."[4]
non-inclusion of the periodicals was a transparent On June 5, 1979, petitioner received a Claiming that the above-quoted second
hypocrisy, an ostensibly pious if not at all Memorandum ordering him to stop plying his route memorandum issued by the private respondent was
convincing pretense of respect for freedom of and collecting the sums owed by customers to the "willfull, malicious and done in gross bad
expression that was in fact one of the most company for the stated reason of his alleged faith,"[5] petitioner, on September 28, 1979 filed a
desecrated liberties during the past despotism.[31] "NONISSUANCE (SIC) OF EITHER CHANGE REFUND complaint for "Damages Arising from Libel" with the
NOR OFFICIAL RECEIPT FOR EMPTIES RETRIEVED Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of FROM OUTLETS WITH TEMPORARY CREDIT Zamboanga Del Norte. In his complaint, he alleged
Appeals is REVERSED and the petitioner is SALES."[1] The order grounding petitioner, signed by that:
ACQUITTED of the crime charged. herein respondent Felipe T. Carreon in his capacity
as District Sales Supervisor, likewise directed xxx
SO ORDERED.
petitioner to instead report directly "to the sales [T]he defendant has pictured the plaintiff in
office every working day at the prescribed company his report (Annex "B") as a thief, corrupt or
time."[2] dishonest man and even going to the extent

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 51 of 80

of exposing in public the alleged vices of the letter was protected by the privileged or remarks, of any judicial,
plaintiff such as mahjong and cockfighting. communication rule, the private respondent legislative or other official
appealed the trial court's decision to the Court of proceedings which are not of
[T]he defendant is guilty of gross bad faith Appeals. confidential nature, or of any
and malice in the highest degree for making statement, report or speech
and publishing a false, and libelous report On February 21, 1995, respondent court delivered in said proceedings, or of
for the purpose of putting down the good reversed the trial court's decision on the ground any other act performed by public
name and reputation of the plaintiff and his that the memorandum was not libelous being officers in the exercise of their
family. "within the ambit of privileged functions.
communications." Motion for Reconsideration was
xxx[6] denied by the Court of Appeals on May 31, 1995, Nothing in the evidence on record would
Petitioner then prayed that the trial court grant hence, the instant petition for review on certiorari. suggest that the key elements of publicity found in
the total amount of P171,000.00 to him as moral the definition of libel in Article 353 of the Revised
The appeal is not impressed with merit.
and exemplary damages, attorney's fees and Penal Code are present in the case before us.
expenses of litigation. The provisions of law applicable to the case at Firstly, the assailed letter was obviously part
bar are embodied in Articles 353 and 354 of the
On November 5, 1990, the Regional Trial Court and parcel of the initial investigation surrounding
Revised Penal Code which state the following: the non-remittance of collections by petitioner. The
rendered its decision[7] in favor of herein petitioner,
the dispositive portion of which states the following: Art. 353. Definition of Libel. - A libel is a right hand caption of the memorandum clearly
public and malicious imputation of a crime, shows the phrase "Inter-office
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Court hereby or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or Memorandum,"[9] implying confidentiality. Secondly,
renders judgment - any act, omission, condition, status, or petitioner was unable to prove that the letter was
circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, circulated or publicized, much less read by officers
discredit, or contempt of a natural or of the corporation other than those involved in the
1. Ordering the defendant to pay to the
juridical person, or to blacken the memory investigation or those directly supervising the
plaintiff the following sums:
of one who is dead. petitioner's work. While imputation of a vice or
(a) P150,000.00 for moral damages;
defect on the petitioner's character might have
(b) P50,000.00 for exemplary damages; Art. 354. Requirement for publicity. - Every been apparent from the second to the last
(c) P20,000.00 for attorney's fees and defamatory imputation is presumed to be paragraph of the memorandum, the imputation was
(d) P1,000.00 for litigation expenses; malicious, even if it be true, if no good never really made publicly.
2. Dismissing the defendant's counterclaim intention and justifiable motive for making
it is shown, except in the following cases: More importantly, petitioner in the court below
for lack of merit; and
was not able to establish satisfactorily that the
3. Ordering the defendant to pay the costs. 1. A private communication made issuance of the letter and its offending paragraph
[8] by any person to another in the was motivated by malice. As respondent Court of
performance of any legal, moral or Appeals correctly held:
Principally contending in his assignment of social duty; and
errors that no actual malice existed or had been Neither does this Court find positive proof
shown in respect to the questioned (second) 2. A fair and true report, made in that the appellant was motivated by malice
memorandum and that in any case, the assailed good faith, without any comments in the issuance of the memorandum

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 52 of 80

claimed to be libelous, addressed to the may still cover the mistake of the good faith, an honest innocent statement arising
proper officials of San Miguel individual. But the statements must be from a moral and legal obligation which the private
Corporation. In other words, the onus of made under an honest sense of duty; x x x. respondent certainly owed to the company in the
proving actual malice is placed on the performance of his duties. The opinion which the
In the instant case, it is well-worth stressing
plaintiff- appellee who must convince the private respondent expressed in the discharge of
Court that the offender was prompted by that the private respondent was, as the District his duty might have skirted the boundary which
Sales Supervisor of the corporation's Dipolog office,
malice or ill will. Once this is accomplished, usually separates innocent opinion from actionable
the defense of privilege is the immediate supervisor of petitioner. In this defamation. Paradoxically, however, if he did not
capacity, respondent was charged with the duty to
unavailing. (Nanerico D. Santos vs. The hazard the warning, though it might have
Court of Appeals, et. al., 203 SCRA 110, carry out and enforce company rules and policies, subsequently turned out to be a reckless one, he
including the duty to undertake initial investigation
114.) Our ruling is buttressed by the fact would have been remiss in his responsibilities to the
that no proof has been adduced to show of possible irregularities in customer accounts in company. The rule on privileged communications
order to suggest further action which could be
that the subject Memorandum was released allows the latitude of expression embodied in the
to persons other than the officials taken by the company. In fact, the communications private respondent's second memorandum.
initially submitted by the private respondent to his
concerned. x x x.[10]
superiors prompted the investigation which WHEREFORE, there being no reversible error
Malice exists when there is an intentional doing eventually led to petitioner's preventive suspension in the decision sought to be reviewed, the petition
of a wrongful act without just cause. An imputation and to the decision by the company's proper is hereby DENIED.
is legally malicious if done without any reason that officers to terminate the latter's employment. In
SO ORDERED.
would justify a normally conscientious man in so making his earlier recommendation, the private
making the imputation.[11] While the law presumes respondent relied on the affidavits submitted by at
every defamatory imputation to be malicious, there least three of the company's clients (all attesting to
are exceptions to this rule. The record indicates that irregularities)[14] and his initial though yet-
this case falls under the settled exceptions to the unsubstantiated findings that respondent was an 11. Flor v people
rule: the private respondent's inter-office "avid mahjong player and a cockfight
memorandum falls within the ambit of privileged enthusiast." That the affidavits were subsequently
communication rule. found to have been gathered by the private
respondent himself did not diminish their
A privileged communication is one made bona [G.R. No. 139987. March 31, 2005]
quality. Investigation necessarily includes the
fide upon any subject matter in which the party gathering and solicitation of information.
communicating has an interest, or in reference to
which he has a duty.[12] Discussing the scope of this Even granting that the questioned
rule, former Chief Justice Fernando, in Mercado v. memorandum - particularly the above quoted SALVADOR D. FLOR, petitioner, vs. PEOPLE OF
CFI of Rizal,[13]explained that: paragraph - contains statements which could be THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
slanderous and therefore actionable were they not
x x x. Even when the statements are found protected by the rule on privileged communications, DECISION
to be false, if there is probable cause for still as no malice was shown, we agree with the
belief in their truthfulness and the charge is CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
respondent court's conclusion that the assailed
made in good faith, the mantle of privilege memorandum report was an official act done in

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 53 of 80

Before Us is a petition for review expose him to public hatred, ridicule and contempt, The governor was accompanied abroad by political
on certiorari seeking to reverse the Decision of the write, edit, publish and circulate an issue of the supporters mostly municipal mayors in Camarines
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR Nos. 11577 and local weekly newspaper BICOL FORUM throughout Sur, the report said.
33204[1] which affirmed the joint decision of the the Bicol Region, with banner headline and front
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 33 of Pili, page news item read by the public throughout the This was contested by several individuals who told
Camarines Sur, in Criminal Case No. P-1855 Bicol Region, pertinent portions of which are quoted Bicol Forum that the members of Villafuertes
convicting the petitioner and Nick Ramos [2] for libel verbatim as follows: entourage did not have official functions in the
and Civil Case No. P-1672 awarding damages in province.
favor of the private complainant, former Governor VILLAFUERTES DENIAL CONVINCES NO ONE
of Camarines Sur and Minister of the Presidential Villafuerte and his companions reportedly attended
Commission on Government Reorganization Luis R. NAGA CITY-Gov. Luis Villafuertes denial the 1986 baseball games in Japan.
Villafuerte. that he did not spend government money
The facts are not disputed. for his trips to Japan and Israel two weeks When in truth and in fact said allegations are false
ago has failed to convince people in and utterly untrue as the complainant has not done
An information for libel was filed before the Camarines Sur, reliable sources said. such acts, thus embarrassing, discrediting and
RTC, Branch 20, Naga City, against the petitioner ridiculing him before his friends, followers and other
and Ramos who were then the managing editor and What the people know, the sources said, is that the people.[3]
correspondent, respectively, of the Bicol Forum, a two trips of the governor who is also the minister of
local weekly newspaper circulated in the Bicol the Government Reorganization Commission was The information was later amended to include
Region. The information reads as follows: purely junket. Jose Burgos, Jr., who was at that time the
publisher-editor of the Bicol Forum.[4] The trial
That on or about the 18th day up to the 24th day of This was confirmed when capitol sources disclosed court, however, never acquired jurisdiction over his
August, 1986, in the Bicol Region comprised by the that about P700,000.00 collected by way of cash person as he did not surrender nor was he ever
Provinces of Albay, Catanduanes, Sorsogon, advances by ranking provincial officials were arrested by the authorities.
Masbate, Camarines Sur, and Camarines Norte, and allegedly used for the two trips.
the Cities of Iriga and Naga, Philippines, and within It appears from the records that prior to the
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court under R.A. filing of the criminal complaint, the private
The cash advances, the sources said, were made at
No. 4363, and B.P. Blg. 129, the above-named complainant had already instituted a separate civil
the instance of Villafuerte.
accused who are the news correspondent and the action for damages arising out of the questioned
managing editor, respectively, of the local weekly news article before the RTC, Branch 23, Naga City.
It was learned that the amount was withdrawn Due to this, the criminal suit for libel was ordered
newspaper Bicol Forum, did then and there willfully,
without resolution approving its release. consolidated with the civil case pursuant to Article
unlawfully and feloniously, without justifiable
motive and with malicious intent of impeaching, 360 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.
discrediting and destroying the honor, integrity, Villarfuerte however said that he spent his own [5]
Subsequently, the consolidated actions were
good name and reputation of the complainant as money for the two trips. transferred to RTC, Branch 33, Pili, Camarines Sur,
Minister of the Presidential Commission on in accordance with Republic Act No. 4363 which
Government Reorganization and concurrently outlines the venue of libel cases in the event that
Governor of the Province of Camarines Sur, and to the offended party is a public official such as in this

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 54 of 80

case.[6] Thereafter, a joint trial of the cases ensued Convinces No One. According to him, the Bicol advances. Later, he was given a copy of the
with accused Burgos, Jr., being declared as in Forum seemed to be making a mockery of his Schedule of Cash Advances of Disbursing Officers
default in the civil case due to his failure to attend previous explanations regarding the cash advances and Other Officers (as of June 30 1987).[17] Among
its pre-trial conference. and his trips abroad and such a sweeping statement the provincial government officials listed therein
subjected him to public ridicule and humiliation.[13] were the private respondent who had a 1986
Upon being arraigned, the petitioner and balance of P25,000.00 incurred for cultural
Ramos both pleaded not guilty.[7] On the other hand, Ramos testified that he activities; Atty. Jose Maceda who also had a 1986
wrote the questioned news item on the basis of a balance of P130,084.00 for sports development,
During the trial, the private complainant note given to him by a source whom he refused to
himself took the witness stand to refute the Operation Smile, NAMCYA Festival, and prisoners
identify.[14] Said source was allegedly connected subsistence; and Eulogio Panes, Jr., who had beside
statements contained in the subject news article. with the Provincial Treasurers Office. [15] The note
According to him, there were previous news reports his name a 1986 balance of P250,000 for the
reads: purpose of sports development. Ramos also claimed
and broadcasts regarding the cash advances
allegedly made by some provincial government that when he went to the Provincial Treasurers
Media consultants of Villafuerte specially DWLV Office to conduct his investigation, he was shown
officials of Camarines Sur and that it was also
announcers had been announcing the travels of some vouchers and was told that many of the
reported that he made a trip to Japan which was
Villafuerte to Israel and Japan without spending a members of the baseball delegation to Japan were
branded as a mere junket. [8] The private
single centavo. This is unbelievable as lately the not elected provincial officials and, in fact, some
complainant, however, explained that after he
Gov. said he [spent] his own money for the trips. mayors and private individuals were sent as part of
clarified over the radio that he never went to Japan,
the issue was never discussed again until the the Philippine group.[18]
matter was included in the questioned news item. No one will believe this. The governor and party
[9] went to Israel and Japan as there were some During his turn at the witness stand, the
As for the cash advances, the private
P700,000.00 cash advances collected in form of petitioner admitted that the headline was written by
complainant stated that the Provincial Auditor and him in his capacity as the managing editor [19] in
the Budget Officer had already made a statement to advances by top provincial officials for the trips. No
[doubt] Villafuerte had a hand on this because he is accordance with the policy of their paper to print as
the effect that he had no pending cash advances. headlines matters dealing with public concerns and
[10]
Further, the private complainant clarified that he the governor approving cash advances. Among
them were Panes and Maceda. public officials.[20] According to him, the banner
made his trip to Israel in his capacity as a cabinet headline and the sub-headline truthfully reflect the
member of former President Corazon C. Aquino and substance of the story prepared by Ramos.[21]
that he spent his own money for the said official trip There were no resolution, please publish this that
thereby debunking Bicol Forums report that his people concern will react and they be forced to After the trial, the court a quo rendered a joint
travel to Israel was purely a junket.[11] The private account for the money. Authenticated papers will decision the dispositive portion of which reads:
complainant also complained that no one from the follow. Bulls eye ito.
Bicol Forum made any attempt to get his side of the IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING
story nor was he aware of any effort exerted by the capr[16] CONSIDERATIONS, judgment is hereby rendered:
representatives of said publication to confirm the
veracity of the contents of the subject news article Ramos likewise alleged that prior to writing the In Criminal Case No. P-1855
from any source at the provincial capitol.[12] Finally, subject news article, he went to his source to ask
the private complainant took exception to the some clarificatory questions and was told that he
banner headline which states Villafuertes Denial would be given authenticated records of the cash

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 55 of 80

Finding the accused Nick Ramos and Salvador D. The informant of Nick Ramos made a sweeping 1. A private communication made by any person to
Flor guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of conclusion that it was Gov. Villafuerte who made another in the performance of any legal, moral, or
Libel defined and punished under Article 353 in the trips abroad using government money as there social duty; and
connection with Article 355 of the Revised Penal were cash advances of P700,000.00 made by top
Code and they are each sentenced to pay a fine of provincial officials, without first having verified the 2. A fair and true report, made in good faith,
Two Thousand Pesos (P2,000.00) with subsidiary truth about the matters contained in his report. The without any comments or remarks, of any judicial,
imprisonment in case of insolvency; and to pay the imputation became malicious when they are based legislative, or other official proceedings which are
costs of suit. on mere conjectures. The alleged libelous article not of confidential nature, or of any statement,
must be construed as a whole. The effect of the report, or speech delivered in said proceedings, or
In Civil Case No. P-1672 news item upon the minds of the readers must be of any other act performed by public officers in the
considered in the prosecution of libel cases. The exercise of their functions.[29]
Ordering the defendants Nick Ramos, Salvador D. words used in the news report tends to impute a
Flor and Jose Burgos, Jr. to pay jointly and criminal act on the governor which may cause the The law recognizes two kinds of privileged
severally to the plaintiff the following: readers to hold him up to public ridicule and induce matters. First are those which are classified
them to believe that the governor was indeed as absolutely privileged which enjoy immunity from
guilty. The accused editor admitted that he did not libel suits regardless of the existence of malice in
1. The amount of Three Hundred Thousand
make any personal investigation as to the truth of fact. Included herein are statements made in official
Pesos (P300,000.00) as moral
the statements made in the report. When such proceedings of the legislature by the members
damages;
communication was sent for publication, the so- thereof.[30] Likewise, statements made in the course
called privilege was destroyed when malice in fact of judicial proceedings are absolutely privileged but
2. The amount of Five Thousand Pesos was present.[26]
(P5,000.00) as exemplary damages; only if pertinent or relevant to the case involved.[31]

In fine, the sole issue brought for the The other kind of privileged matters are
3. The amount of Five Thousand Pesos consideration of this Court is whether the the qualifiedly or conditionally
(P5,000.00) as attorneys fees; and to questioned news item is libelous. We reverse. privileged communications which, unlike the first
pay the costs of suit.[22] classification, may be susceptible to a finding of
Libel is defined as a public and malicious libel provided the prosecution establishes the
Unsatisfied with the findings of the trial court, imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or presence of malice in fact. The exceptions provided
the petitioner and Ramos filed an appeal with the imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, for in Article 354 of the Revised Penal Code fall into
Court of Appeals which affirmed the judgment of or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, this category.
the trial court through its decision dated 10 discredit, or contempt of a natural person or
juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one In the case, however, of Borjal v. Court of
December 1996.[23] They thereafter filed a motion
who is dead.[27] Any of these imputations is Appeals,[32] this Court recognized that the
for reconsideration[24]which was denied for lack of
defamatory and under the general rule stated in enumeration stated in Article 354 of the Revised
merit by the appellate court in its resolution of 19
Article 354 of the Revised Penal Code, every Penal Code is not exclusive but is rendered more
August 1999.[25]
defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious. expansive by the constitutional guarantee of
In upholding the conclusion reached by the trial [28]
The presumption of malice, however, does not freedom of the press, thus:
court, the Court of Appeals ratiocinated, thus: exist in the following instances:

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 56 of 80

. . . To be sure, the enumeration under Art. 354 is individual is less than the State, so must expected news item satisfied the test pronounced in the New
not an exclusive list of qualifiedly privileged criticism be born for the common good. Rising York Times case. We do not agree.
communications since fair commentaries on matters superior to any official, or set of officials, to the
of public interest are likewise privileged. The rule on Chief Executive, to the Legislature, to the Judiciary As the US Supreme Court itself declared,
reckless disregard cannot be fully encompassed in
privileged communications had its genesis not in to any or all the agencies of Government public
the nations penal code but in the Bill of Rights of opinion should be the constant source of liberty and one infallible definition. Inevitably its outer limits
will be marked out through case-by-case
the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech democracy.[35]
and of the press. As early as 1918, in United States adjudication.[41] The case of Garrison v. State of
Louisiana[42] stressed that only those false
v. Caete [38 Phil. 253], this Court ruled that Of course, this does not mean that a public
publications which are privileged for reasons of statements made with the high degree of
official is barred from recovering damages in cases
awareness of their probable falsity demanded
public policy are protected by the constitutional involving defamations. His entitlement, however, is
guaranty of freedom of speech. This constitutional by New York Times may be the subject of either
limited to instances when the defamatory statement
civil or criminal sanctions [43] and concluded by
right cannot be abolished by the mere failure of the was made with actual malice that is, with
legislature to give it express recognition in the restating the reckless disregard standard in the
knowledge that it was false or with reckless
following manner:
statute punishing libels.[33] disregard of whether it was false or not. [36] This is
the test laid down in the leading case of New York
Clearly, when confronted with libel cases Times Co. v. Sullivan.[37] . . . The test which we laid down in New York Times
is not keyed to ordinary care; defeasance of the
involving publications which deal with public officials
and the discharge of their official functions, this In the case at bar, the Office of the Solicitor privilege is conditioned, not on mere negligence,
General (OSG) argues that the purported libelous but on reckless disregard for the truth.[44]
Court is not confined within the wordings of the libel
statute; rather, the case should likewise be news item was designed to malign the integrity and
reputation of the [private complainant] for it Subsequently, in St. Amant v. Thompson[45] it
examined under the constitutional precept of
freedom of the press. As enunciated in the seminal ascribed to the latter corruption and dishonesty in was stated that
government service.[38] Moreover, the OSG
case of United States v. Bustos[34] -
maintains that the questioned news article does not . . . These cases are clear that reckless conduct is
enjoy the mantle of protection afforded a privileged not measured by whether a reasonably prudent
The interest of society and the maintenance of good
matter as the petitioner and Ramos published the man would have published, or would have
government demand a full discussion of public
news item based on mere speculation and investigated before publishing. There must be
affairs. Complete liberty to comment on the conduct
conjecture.[39] Their decision to publish the sufficient evidence to permit the conclusion that the
of public men is a scalpel in the case of free speech.
unverified information furnished them by the defendant in fact entertained serious doubts as to
The sharp incision of its probe relieves the
unnamed source, who was never presented before the truth of his publication. Publishing with such
abscesses of officialdom. Men in public life may
the trial court, and their failure to verify the truth of doubts shows reckless disregard for truth or falsity
suffer under a hostile and an unjust accusation; the
statements which appeared under the banner and demonstrates actual malice. [46]
wound can be assuaged with the balm of a clear
headline of the 18-24 August 1986 issue of the
conscience. A public officer must not be too thin-
Bicol Forum indicates that the news item was
skinned with reference to comment upon his official Applied to the case at bar, we hold that the
published intemperately and maliciously.[40] The
acts. Only thus can the intelligence and dignity of prosecution failed to meet the criterion of reckless
OSG is therefore of the opinion that the subject
the individual be exalted. Of course, criticism does disregard. As the records reveal, the issue of cash
not authorize defamation. Nevertheless, as the advances against the coffers of the provincial

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 57 of 80

government of Camarines Sur was a major political During the hearing of these cases, the private claim that he had conducted an investigation to
topic in said locality at that time. Even the private complainant also refuted the material points verify the information passed on to him should not
respondent himself admitted during his direct contained in the subject news article in an effort to be taken against them. On this point, we turn to
testimony that he went on radio in order to address prove the falsity of the allegations contained our pronouncement in the case of Rodolfo R.
the matter. It was clearly a legitimate topic to be therein. This Court finds such effort inadequate to Vasquez v. Court of Appeals, et al.,[50] to wit:
discussed not only by the members of the media adjudge the petitioner guilty of the crime of libel or
but by the public as what was involved was the to entitle the private respondent to damages. Under A rule placing on the accused the burden of showing
dispensation of taxpayers money. the New York Times test, false statements alone are the truth of allegations of official misconduct and/or
not actionable; maliciousness may be shown only good motives and justifiable ends for making such
Further, it bears emphasis that in this case, the through knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard allegations would not only be contrary to Art. 361 of
petitioner and Ramos had in their possession of truth or falsity.[48] the Revised Penal Code. It would, above all, infringe
information relating to the cash advances and the
on the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of
private respondents travels abroad. The information Further, both the prosecution and the OSG
expression. Such a rule would deter citizens from
was provided by one who worked in the provincial make capital of Ramos and the petitioners failure to
performing their duties as members of a self-
treasurers office and had access to the pertinent confirm the information supplied by the unidentified
governing community. Without free speech and
financial records of the provincial government. Their source which ultimately became the basis for the
assembly, discussions of our most abiding concerns
informant was familiar with the procedure with news article under consideration in an obvious
as a nation would be stifled. As Justice Brandeis has
regard to the approval of cash advances. The attempt to establish the element of reckless
said, public discussion is a political duty and the
inference they drew from the note given by their disregard for truth. The prosecution also
greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.[51]
source that the private respondent prodded some of painstakingly tried to establish malice in fact on the
the provincial government officials to take out cash part of the petitioner by harping on the fact that
advances may have been false but the same does neither he nor Ramos took the time to give the Indeed, the difficulty of producing evidence,
not warrant a conviction for libel nor support a private respondent the chance to air his side before both documentary and testimonial, on behalf of the
claim for damages. As discussed by Newell putting the alleged libelous news story to print. petitioner was readily apparent when, during his
cross-examination, Ramos testified that he was not
The contention fails to persuade. allowed by the custodians of the material provincial
Slight unintentional errors, however, will be
financial records to photocopy the latter particularly
excused. If a writer in the course of temperate and While substantiation of the facts supplied is an
because said documents dealt with the matter of
legitimate criticism falls into error as to some detail, important reporting standard, still, a reporter may
cash advances.[52]
or draws an incorrect inference from the facts rely on information given by a lone source although
before him, and thus goes beyond the limits of it reflects only one side of the story provided the Further, as their informant was employed in the
strict truth, such inaccuracies will not cause reporter does not entertain a high degree of provincial treasurers office, it is understandable why
judgment to go against him, if the jury are awareness of [its] probable falsity.[49] The he opted not to expose himself and openly charge
satisfied, after reading the whole publication, that it prosecution, in this case, utterly failed to prove that his superior, the private complainant herein, lest he
was written honestly, fairly and with regard to what the petitioner and Ramos entertained such incur the latters wrath.
truth and justice require. It is not to be expected awareness.
that a public journalist will always be infallible.[47] Finally, the private respondent claims that the
We also hold that the petitioners and Ramoss banner headline ridiculed him before the public
failure to present their informant before the court does not merit consideration as the rule in this
as well as other evidence that would prove Ramos jurisdiction is that [t]he headline of a newspaper

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 58 of 80

story or publication claimed to be libelous must be Before us is a petition for review seeking the 87-41856. Petitioner claims that private respondent
read and construed in connection with the language reversal of the Decision[1] of the respondent Court alluded to him when she said the words "stupid",
that follows.[53] A perusal of the entire news story of Appeals dated March 14, 1996 in CA-G.R. CV No. "bastards", "swindlers", and "plunderers" while
accompanying the headline in this case readily 33838 insofar as it deleted the award of moral testifying on the Deed of Sale with Right of
establishes the fact that the questioned article dealt damages and attorneys fees granted to him by the Repurchase. Quoted below are the pertinent
with refutations by the private respondents critics of Regional Trial Court of Manila in its Decision [2] dated portions of private respondents testimonies:
his explanation over the radio with regard to the September 27, 1990 in Civil Case No. 87-41856.
issues mentioned therein. The wording of the "Q. Now, there are signatures here as
headline may have contained an exaggeration but Petitioner is a lawyer and is one of the defendants witnesses appearing on page 2 of the
the same nevertheless represents a fair index of the in Civil Case No. 87-41856 for annulment of "Deed document, can you tell us, Ms.
contents of the news story accompanying it.[54] of Sale with Right to Repurchase and Damages", Witness, if you can recognize those
filed with the Regional Trial Court of Manila entitled signatures?
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The
"Leonila E. Generoso, et. al. vs. Frederick S.
Decision of the Court of Appeals of 10 December
Pumaren, et. al.". Private respondent filed the civil "A. I do not know any of those
1996 which affirmed the Joint Decision dated 18
case on September 2, 1987 originally against Mr. bastards, none of them."[3]
March 1991 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 33,
Frederick S. Pumaren, Mr. Avelino Profeta and the
Pili, Camarines Sur, and its Resolution of 19 August
Register of Deeds of Metro Manila seeking to annul xxx
1999 denying reconsideration are REVERSED and
a deed of sale executed over her property on the
SET ASIDE. No costs.
ground that her purported signature therein was
"Q. One of the defendants in this case
SO ORDERED. forged. On December 21, 1987, the complaint was
is a certain Avelino Profeta, have you
amended to include petitioner and Atty. Rafael C.
met him before?
Dinglasan.
"A. I never met this swindler before. I
The Deed of Sale with Right of Repurchase involved
12. Navarette vs ca never seen him. Never heard of
in the civil case was prepared and notarized by
him."[4]
petitioner. Petitioner claims that the statements
[G.R. No. 124245. February 15, 2000] made by private respondent in her Amended
Complaint and her testimonies in the course of the xxxmarie
ANTONIO F. NAVARRETE, petitioner, trial falsely and maliciously slandered him. Hence,
vs. COURT OF APPEALS, and LEONILA E. petitioner now assails the denial of his right to "Q. Before this proceedings
GENEROSO, respondents. francis recover moral damages and attorneys fees from commence as it appears that it was
private respondent. so confirmed thru a petition be
defendant Frederick S. Pumaren on
DECISION
The alleged malicious and false statements made by October 13, 1986, did you receive
private respondent against petitioner were uttered from the Court or from the
GONZAGA_REYES, J.: defendants that there was such
on December 14 and 21, 1987. On these dates, the
lower court conducted the hearings for the issuance proceedings?
of a writ of preliminary injunction in Civil Case No.

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 59 of 80

"A. No, sir. I did not receive any after examining all those papers, "WHEREFORE, and in view of the
notice from the court or from protect and defend him after they foregoing considerations, judgment is
these stupid people."[5] plundered my property?"[9] hereby rendered:

xxx (Emphasis supplied) (a) Declaring plaintiff Leonila E.


Generoso as the absolute, exclusie
"A. I do not know this document. I do Petitioner is also convinced that the following and paraphernal owner of the subject
not know about the selling. Those allegations of private respondent in her Amended property covered by her already
people are really swindlers."[6] Complaint are actionable: deemed cancelled Transfer Certificate
of Title No. 143351, now Transfer
xxx (a) Accused "private defendants" of Certificate of Title No. 154609, of the
"forging" Leonila Generosos signature Register of Deeds of Manila;
"A. I still could not understand how in the Deed of Absolute Sale with
this certificate of title could be Right of Repurchase" (par. 51); (b) Declaring the Deed of Absolute
recopied. There must be somebody Sale with Right of Repurchase, Exhibit
who is responsible for it. How was it (b) Claimed that "the same A, and Transfer Certificate of Title
possible that this was copied by these conspiring defendants falsified the Nos. 143551 and 175354 issued to
swindlers."[7] signatures of Leonila E. Generoso" Frederick S. Pumaren as null and
(par. 61); void, concelled (sic) without force and
effect;
xxx
(c) Pointed to private defendants
wanton and malevolent acts to (c) Declaring Transfer Certificate of
"A. We came here precisely for this
deceive and defraud plaintiffs" (par. Title No. 154609 issued to plaintiff
because I can not let these things go
91); and Leonila E. Generoso as the lawful and
ahead. My property is
valid title to the land in question;
being stolen behind my back. I have
to come here 10,000 miles away to (d) Charged the defendants of
defend my property so that justice "blatant, malicious and (d) Dismissing the complaint with
may be given to punish those fraudulent acts as aforestated" (par. respect to defendant Antonio
plunderers."[8] 10)[10] Navarrete and, on his
counterclaim, ordering plaintiffs
to pay him the amount of P
xxx (Emphasis supplied) novero
100,000.00 as moral damages
and P 20,000.00 as attorneys
"DRA. GENEROSO: Before we have On September 27,1990, the Regional Trial Court of fees.
the break, can I make a statement to Manila rendered its Decision in Civil Case No. 87-
Atty. Villanueva? Are you defending 41856, the dispositive portion of which reads:
No pronouncement as to costs."[11]
Avelino Profeta, one of the
swindlers in this case? How can you,

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 60 of 80

Both parties appealed, including petitioner who THE LATTER IS NOT YET A PARTY TO It is a settled principle in this jurisdiction that
protested the minimal amount of damages awarded THAT CASE, THE RESPONDENT statements made in the course of judicial
to him. COURT OF APPEALS HAS DECIDED A proceedings are absolutely privileged.[17] This
QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE, NOT absolute privilege remains regardless of the
On March 14, 1996, the Court of Appeals upheld the HERETOFORE DETERMINED BY THIS defamatory tenor and the presence of malice if the
finding that the Deed of Sale with Right of HONORABLE COURT, OR HAS same are relevant, pertinent or material to the
Repurchase and the Transfer of Certificate of Title DECIDED IT IN A WAY CLEARLY NOT cause in hand or subject of the inquiry.[18] Thus, the
issued to Pumaren were null and void, but deleted IN ACCORD WITH LAW, WITH THE person making these statements such as a judge,
the award of damages in favor of petitioner. It held: APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS lawyer or witness does not thereby incur the risk of
HONORABLE COURT OR, AT THE being found liable thereon in a criminal prosecution
"IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE VERY LEAST, WITH FAIRNESS AND or an action for the recovery of damages.[19] ella
FOREGOING, the assailed Decision is EQUITY.[13]
hereby AFFIRMED with the The doctrine that statements made during the
modifications that: (a) the award of In questioning the conclusion of the Court of course of judicial proceedings enjoy the shield of
moral damages and attorneys Appeals that the statements made by private absolute privilege was first categorically
fees in favor of Navarrete are respondent in the pleadings and in her testimony established[20] in the case of Sison vs. David.[21] In
hereby deleted; (b) Appellant are considered absolutely privileged, petitioner said case, the petition allegedly contained libelous
Pumaren and Dinglasan are hereby deplores the fact that only American cases were allegations, implying that the complainant was
ordered to pay to Appellant Generoso cited by the Court to justify its conclusion. He incompetent to manage the affairs of a corporation
and Elshawi jointly and severally, the insists that under Philippine law and jurisprudence, and that he was converting his wifes paraphernal
amount of US $ 2,650.00 or its peso the statements made by private respondent are not properties into conjugal properties.[22] This Court
equivalent by way of actual damages; absolutely privileged. The petition underscores the ruled in that case that the allegations in the
to Appellant Generoso, the amount of fact that petitioner is a lawyer whose reputation has pleadings were absolutely privileged and went
P 50,00.00 by way of exemplary been allegedly besmirched by a "brown American". further by saying that:
[14]
damages; and to Appellants Generoso Petitioner now turns to this Court to vindicate his
and Elshawi, the amount of P honor. "Also, sarcastic, pungent and harsh
20,000.00 as attorneys fees; and the allegations in a pleading although
costs of suit."[12] In her Answer, private respondent cited tending to detract from the dignity
decisions[15] of the Supreme Court to the effect that that should characterize proceedings
Petitioner believes that this Court should overturn no action for libel or for damages may be founded in courts of justice, are absolutely
the decision of the Court of Appeals on the ground on utterances made in the course of judicial privileged, if relevant to the issues".
that: nigel proceedings.[16] [23]

IN HOLDING THAT A PARTY TO A This Court finds that the Court of Appeals did not We have adopted the same ruling in several
CASE HAS THE ABSOLUTE PRIVILEGE commit any reversible error in revoking the award cases[24] wherein statements made during judicial
OF FALSELY AND MALICIOUSLY of moral damages and attorneys fees to petitioner. proceedings were sued upon for libel or damages.
MALIGNING A LAWYER, EVEN WHILE The lone requirement imposed to maintain the cloak
of absolute privilege is the test of relevancy.[25]

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 61 of 80

The doctrine of privileged communication has a With respect to the words "swindlers", "plunderers" the profession have been damaged by these
practical purpose. As enunciated in the case "stupid" and "bastards" uttered by private utterances.
of Deles vs. Aragona, Jr.[26]: respondent in the course of her testimony, we are
inclined to agree that such language is too An examination of the transcript earlier quoted will
"The privilege is not intended so ignominious and degrading and is out of place in a show that private respondent did not allude to
much for the protection of those courtroom. Understandably, private respondent has petitioner in particular when she used the words
engaged in the public service and in no love lost for the people she accused of illegally "stupid" and "bastards". The word "bastards" was in
the enactment and administration of depriving her of her property, but her indignation response to this question: "Now, there are
law, as for the promotion of public does not give her the right to use contumacious signatures here as witnesses appearing on page 2
welfare, the purpose being that language with impunity in a courtroom. The of the document, can you tell us, Ms. Witness, if
members of the legislature, judges of judge[31] and commissioner[32] then presiding at the you can recognize those signatures?" [35] Clearly,
courts, jurors, lawyers and witnesses time private respondent uttered the contemptuous private respondent was alluding to the witnesses to
may speak their minds freely and words should have restrained the latter because the deed in question, who are not parties in the
exercise their respective functions order and proper decorum should always be present action. Petitioner was not a witness to the
without incurring the risk of a maintained in the courtroom.[33] Without question, deed, he prepared and notarized it. Also, the word
criminal prosecution or an action for the use of blatantly defamatory language like "swindler" was used with particular reference to
damages."[27] "stupid", "bastards", "swindlers", and "plunderers" defendant Avelino Profeta who also is not a party to
in describing the adverse parties detract from the the instant case. Used in the plural form in the
In determining the issue of relevancy of statements honor and dignity that befits a court proceeding and other parts of her testimony, the words "those
made in judicial proceedings, courts have adopted a should have been stricken out of the records. swindlers", "those plunderers" and "those stupid
liberal attitude by resolving all doubts in favor of people" referred to none of the defendants in
relevancy.[28] In People vs. Aquino[29], we The foregoing notwithstanding, the Court finds that particular. alonzo
emphasized that "it is the rule that what is relevant the terms used by the private respondent in her
or pertinent should be liberally considered to favor pleading and in her testimony cannot be the basis As regards the testimony of private respondent on
the writer, and the words are not to be scrutinized for an award of moral damages and attorneys fees December 14, 1987, the words complained of were
with microscopic intensity".[30] in favor of petitioner. As stated earlier, the words uttered before the complaint was amended to
"forging", "falsified", "malicious" and "fraudulent" in include petitioner. It was on December 21, 1987
In this case, the allegations made by private the Amended Complaint are unmistakably relevant when private respondent amended her complaint to
respondent in her Amended Complaint stand the to private respondents cause of action which is to include petitioner and Atty. Rafael Dinglasan as
test of relevancy. The words "forging", "malicious annul the Deed of Sale where her signature was defendants. The petitioner was well aware that the
and fraudulent" and "falsified" are clearly pertinent forged. The words "stupid", "bastards", "swindlers", malicious imputations were made "while (he) is not
to the cause of action of private respondent, which and "plunderers" uttered by private respondent did yet a party to the case" and could not have been
is to annul the Deed of Sale with Right of not specifically pertain to petitioner to sufficiently the object thereof.
Repurchase wherein private respondents signature identify him as the object of defamation, such
was forged by an impostor, and to recover damages identifiability being an element of a libelous We accordingly affirm the ruling of the respondent
resulting from such forgery. marinella imputation.[34] We believe that neither petitioners court deleting the award of attorneys fees in favor
good name and reputation nor his high standing in of petitioner.

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 62 of 80

WHEREFORE, this petition is hereby DENIED. and bounds of its controversial domain. This, increasingly powerful and irrepressible mass
prominently, is one such case. media. Public discourse, laments Knight, has been
SO ORDERED. devalued by its utter commonality; and we agree,
Perhaps, never in jurisprudential history has for its logical effect is to benumb thought and
any freedom of man undergone radical doctrinal sensibility on what may be considered as criminal
metamorphoses than his right to freely and openly illegitimate encroachments on the right of persons
express his views. Blackstone's pontifical comment to enjoy a good, honorable and reputable
that "where blasphemous, immoral, treasonable, name. This may explain the imperceptible demise of
13. Borjal vs ca schismatical, seditious, or scandalous libels are criminal prosecutions for libel and the trend to rely
punished by English law . . . the liberty of the press, instead on indemnity suits to repair any damage on
properly understood, is by no means infringed or one's reputation.
violated," found kindred expression in the landmark
[G.R. No. 126466. January 14, 1999] opinion of England's Star Chamber in the Libelis In this petition for review, we are asked to
Famosis case in 1603.[1] That case established two reverse the Court of Appeals in "Francisco
major propositions in the prosecution of defamatory Wenceslao v. Arturo Borjal and Maximo Soliven,"
remarks: first, that libel against a public person is a CA-G.R. No. 40496, holding on 25 March 1996 that
ARTURO BORJAL a.k.a. ART BORJAL and greater offense than one directed against an petitioners Arturo Borjal and Maximo Soliven are
MAXIMO SOLIVEN, petitioners, vs. ordinary man, and second, that it is immaterial that solidarily liable for damages for writing and
COURT OF APPEALS and FRANCISCO the libel be true. publishing certain articles claimed to be derogatory
WENCESLAO, respondents. and offensive to private respondent Francisco
Until republicanism caught fire in early America, Wenceslao.
the view from the top on libel was no less
DECISION
dismal. Even the venerable Justice Holmes Petitioners Arturo Borjal and Maximo Soliven
appeared to waffle as he swayed from the concept are among the incorporators of Philippines Today,
"The question is not so much as who was aimed of criminal libel liability under the clear and present Inc. (PTI), now PhilSTAR Daily, Inc., owner of The
at as who was hit." (Pound, J., in Corrigan v. danger rule, to the other end of the spectrum in Philippine Star, a daily newspaper. At the time the
Bobbs-Merill Co., 228 N.Y. 58 [1920]). defense of the constitutionally protected status of complaint was filed, petitioner Borjal was its
unpopular opinion in free society. President while Soliven was (and still is) Publisher
BELLOSILLO, J.: and Chairman of its Editorial Board. Among the
Viewed in modern times and the current regular writers of The Philippine Star is Borjal who
PERPETUALLY HAGRIDDEN as the public is revolution in information and communication runs the column Jaywalker.
about losing one of the most basic yet oft hotly technology, libel principles formulated at one time
contested freedoms of man, the issue of the right of or another have waxed and waned through the Private respondent Francisco Wenceslao, on the
free expression bestirs and presents itself time and years in the constant ebb and flow of judicial other hand, is a civil engineer, businessman,
again, in cyclic occurrence, to inveigle, nay, review. At the very least, these principles have lost business consultant and journalist by profession. In
challenge the courts to re-survey its ever shifting much of their flavor, drowned and swamped as they 1988 he served as a technical adviser of
terrain, explore and furrow its heretofore uncharted have been by the ceaseless cacophony and din of Congressman Fabian Sison, then Chairman of the
moors and valleys and finally redefine the metes thought and discourse emanating from just about House of Representatives Sub-Committee on
every source and direction, aided no less by an Industrial Policy.

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 63 of 80

During the congressional hearings on the Another self-proclaimed hero of the EDSA Reyes, in effect, advised Juico to put the fund
transport crisis sometime in September 1988 Revolution goes around organizing seminars and solicitation letter in the waste basket. Now, if the
undertaken by the House Sub-Committee on conferences for a huge fee. This is a simple ploy 3,000 persons and agencies approached by the
Industrial Policy, those who attended agreed to coated in jazzy letterheads and slick prose. The organizer shelled out 1,000 each, thats easily P3
organize the First National Conference on Land hero has the gall to solicit fees from anybody with million to a project that seems so
Transportation (FNCLT) to be participated in by the bucks to spare. Recently, in his usual unsophisticated.But note that one garment
private sector in the transport industry and straightforward style, Transportation Secretary company gave P100,000, after which the Garments
government agencies concerned in order to find Rainerio Ray Reyes, asked that his name be Regulatory Board headed by Trade and Industry
ways and means to solve the transportation stricken off from the letterheads the hero has been Undersecretary Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was
crisis. More importantly, the objective of the FNCLT using to implement one of his pet seminars. Reyes approached by the organizer to expedite the
was to draft an omnibus bill that would embody a said: I would like to reiterate my request that you garment license application of the P100,000 donor.
long-term land transportation policy for delete my name. Note that Ray Reyes is an honest
presentation to Congress. The conference which, man who would confront anybody eyeball to eyeball 21 June 1989
according to private respondent, was estimated to without blinking.
cost around P1,815,000.00 would be funded A 'conference organizer' associated with shady
through solicitations from various sponsors such as 9 June 1989 deals seems to have a lot of trash tucked inside his
government agencies, private organizations, closet. The Jaywalker continues to receive
transport firms, and individual delegates or Another questionable portion of the so-called information about the mans dubious deals. His
participants.[2] conference is its unauthorized use of the names of notoriety, according to reliable sources, has
On 28 February 1989, at the organizational President Aquino and Secretary Ray Reyes. The reached the Premier Guest House where his name
meeting of the FNCLT, private respondent Francisco conference program being circulated claims that is spoken like dung.
Wenceslao was elected Executive Director. As such, President Aquino and Reyes will be main speakers
he wrote numerous solicitation letters to the in the conference. Yet, the word is that Cory and xxx
business community for the support of the Reyes have not accepted the invitation to appear in
conference. this confab. Ray Reyes even says that the The first information says that the 'organizer' tried
conference should be unmasked as a moneymaking to mulct half a million pesos from a garment
Between May and July 1989 a series of articles gimmick. producer and exporter who was being investigated
written by petitioner Borjal was published on
for violation of the rules of the Garments, Textile,
different dates in his column Jaywalker. The articles 19 June 1989 Embroidery and Apparel Board. The 'organizer' told
dealt with the alleged anomalous activities of an
the garment exporter that the case could be fixed
"organizer of a conference" without naming or
x x x some 3,000 fund solicitation letters were sent for a sum of P500,000.00. The organizer got the
identifying private respondent. Neither did it refer
by the organizer to every Tom, Dick and Harry and shock of his life when the exporter told him: 'If I
to the FNCLT as the conference therein
to almost all government agencies. And the have that amount, I will hire the best lawyers, not
mentioned. Quoted hereunder are excerpts from
letterheads carried the names of Reyes and you.' The organizer left in a huff, his thick face very
the articles of petitioner together with the dates
Periquet. Agrarian Reform Secretary on leave Philip pale.
they were published[3] -
Juico received one, but he decided to find out from
Reyes himself what the project was all about. Ray xxx
31 May 1989

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 64 of 80

Friends in government and the private sector have newspaper people. He has been turning out a lot of withdrew their support after finding out the
promised the Jaywalker more 'dope' on the funny-looking advice on investments, export background of the organizer of the conference. How
'organizer.' It seems that he was not only growth, and the like. could a conference on transportation succeed
indiscreet; he even failed to cover his tracks. You without the participation of the big names in the
will be hearing more of the 'organizers' exploits xxx industry and government policy-makers?
from this corner soon.
A cabinet secretary has one big wish. He is hoping Private respondent reacted to the articles. He
22 June 1989 for a broad power to ban crooks and influence- sent a letter to The Philippine Star insisting that he
peddlers from entering the premises of his was the organizer alluded to in petitioner Borjals
The scheming 'organizer' we have been writing department. But the Cabinet man might not get his columns.[4] In a subsequent letter to The Philippine
about seems to have been spreading his wings too wish. There is one 'organizer' who, even if Star, private respondent refuted the matters
far. A congressional source has informed the physically banned, can still concoct ways of doing contained in petitioner Borjals columns and openly
Jaywalker that the schemer once worked for a his thing. Without a tinge of remorse, the challenged him in this manner -
congressman from the North as some sort of a 'organizer' could fill up his letterheads with names
consultant on economic affairs. The first thing the of Cabinet members, congressmen, and reputable To test if Borjal has the guts to back up his
organizer did was to initiate hearings and round- people from the private sector to shore up his holier than thou attitude, I am prepared to
the-table discussions with people from the shady reputation and cover up his notoriety. relinquish this position in case it is found that I
business, export and -- his favorite -- the garments have misappropriated even one peso of FNCLT
sector. 3 July 1989 money. On the other hand, if I can prove that Borjal
has used his column as a hammer to get clients for
xxx A supposed conference on transportation was a big his PR Firm, AA Borjal Associates, he should resign
failure. The attendance was very poor and the few from the STAR and never again write a column. Is it
The 'organizers' principal gamely went along, who participated in the affair were mostly leaders a deal?[5]
thinking that his 'consultant' had nothing but the of jeepney drivers groups. None of the government
good of these sectors in mind. It was only later that officials involved in regulating public transportation Thereafter, private respondent filed a complaint
he realized that the 'consultant' was acting with a was there. The big names in the industry also did with the National Press Club (NPC) against
burst of energy 'in aid of extortion.' The not participate. With such a poor attendance, one petitioner Borjal for unethical conduct. He accused
'consultant' was fired. wonders why the conference organizers went ahead petitioner Borjal of using his column as a form of
with the affair and tried so hard to convince 3,000 leverage to obtain contracts for his public relations
xxx companies and individuals to contribute to the firm, AA Borjal Associates.[6] In turn, petitioner
affair. Borjal published a rejoinder to the challenge of
private respondent not only to protect his name and
There seems to be no end to what a man could do
xxx honor but also to refute the claim that he was using
to pursue his dubious ways. He has tried to operate
his column for character assassination.[7]
under a guise of a well-meaning reformist. He has
intellectual pretensions - and sometimes he The conference was doomed from the start. It was Apparently not satisfied with his complaint with
succeeds in getting his thoughts in the inside pages bound to fail. The personalities who count in the the NPC, private respondent filed a criminal case for
of some newspapers, with the aid of some naive field of transportation refused to attend the affair or libel against petitioners Borjal and Soliven, among

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 65 of 80

others. However, in a Resolution dated 7 August publication in a newspaper of general circulation; petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals erred:
1990, the Assistant Prosecutor handling the case that petitioner could have performed his office as a (a) in ruling that private respondent Wenceslao was
dismissed the complaint for insufficiency of newspaperman without necessarily transgressing sufficiently identified by petitioner Borjal in the
evidence. The dismissal was sustained by the the rights of Wenceslao by calling the attention of questioned articles; (b) in refusing to accord serious
Department of Justice and later by the Office of the the government offices concerned to examine the consideration to the findings of the Department of
President. authority by which Wenceslao acted, warning the Justice and the Office of the President that private
public against contributing to a conference that, respondent Wenceslao was not sufficiently identified
On 31 October 1990 private respondent according to his perception, lacked the univocal in the questioned articles, this notwithstanding that
instituted against petitioners a civil action for indorsement of the responsible government the degree of proof required in a preliminary
damages based on libel subject of the instant case. officials, or simply informing the public of the letters investigation is merely prima facie evidence which
[8]
In their answer, petitioners interposed Wenceslao wrote and the favors he requested or is significantly less than the preponderance of
compulsory counterclaims for actual, moral and demanded; and, that when he imputed dishonesty, evidence required in civil cases; (c) in ruling that
exemplary damages, plus attorneys fees and falsehood and misrepresentation, shamelessness the subject articles do not constitute qualifiedly
costs. After due consideration, the trial court and intellectual pretentions to Wenceslao, petitioner privileged communication; (d) in refusing to apply
decided in favor of private respondent Wenceslao Borjal crossed the thin but clear line that separated the "public official doctrine" laid down in New York
and ordered petitioners Borjal and Soliven to fair comment from actionable defamation. Times v. Sullivan; (e) in ruling that the questioned
indemnify private respondent P1,000,000.00 for articles lost their privileged character because of
actual and compensatory damages, in addition Private respondent manifested his desire to their publication in a newspaper of general
to P200,000.00 for moral damages, P100,000.00 appeal that portion of the appellate courts decision circulation; (f) in ruling that private respondent has
for exemplary damages, P200,000.00 for attorneys which reduced the amount of damages awarded a valid cause of action for libel against petitioners
fees, and to pay the costs of suit. him by filing with this Court a Petition for although he failed to prove actual malice on their
Extension of Time to File Petition and a Motion part, and that the prosecutors of the City of Manila,
The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of for Suspension of Time to File Petition. [9] However,
the court a quo but reduced the amount of the the Department of Justice, and eventually, the
in a Resolution dated 27 May 1996, the Second Office of the President, had already resolved that
monetary award to P110,000.00 actual Division denied both motions: the first, for being
damages, P200,000.00 moral damages there was no sufficient evidence to prove the
premature, and the second, for being a wrong existence of libel; and, (g) assuming arguendo that
and P75,000.00 attorney's fees plus costs. In a 20- remedy.
page Decision promulgated 25 March 1996, the Borjal should be held liable, in adjudging petitioner
appellate court ruledinter alia that private On 20 November 1996 when the First Division Soliven solidarily liable with him. Thus, petitioners
respondent was sufficiently identifiable, although consolidated and transferred the present case to pray for the reversal of the appellate courts ruling,
not named, in the questioned articles; that private the Second Division, there was no longer any case the dismissal of the complaint against them for lack
respondent was in fact defamed by petitioner Borjal thereat with which to consolidate this case since of merit, and the award of damages on their
by describing him variously as a "self-proclaimed G.R. No. 124396 had already been disposed of by counterclaim.
hero," "a conference organizer associated with the Second Division almost six (6) months earlier. The petition is impressed with merit. In order
shady deals who has a lot of trash tucked inside his to maintain a libel suit, it is essential that the victim
closet," "thick face," and "a person with dubious On their part, petitioners filed a motion for
reconsideration but the Court of Appeals denied the be identifiable although it is not necessary that he
ways;" that petitioners claim of privilege be named. It is also not sufficient that the offended
communication was unavailing since the privileged motion in its Resolution of 12 September
1996. Hence the instant petition for review. The party recognized himself as the person attacked or
character of the articles was lost by their

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 66 of 80

defamed, but it must be shown that at least a third described as Executive Director and Spokesman and Identification is grossly inadequate when even
person could identify him as the object of the not as a conference organizer.[13] The the alleged offended party is himself unsure that he
libelous publication.[10] Regrettably, these requisites printout [14]
and tentative program[15] of the was the object of the verbal attack. It is well to
have not been complied with in the case at bar. conference were devoid of any indication of note that the revelation of the identity of the person
Wenceslao as organizer. The printout which alluded to came not from petitioner Borjal but from
In ruling for private respondent, the Court of contained an article entitled "Who Organized the private respondent himself when he supplied the
Appeals found that Borjal's column writings NCLT?" did not even mention private respondent's information through his 4 June 1989 letter to the
sufficiently identified Wenceslao as the "conference name, while the tentative program only editor. Had private respondent not revealed that he
organizer." It cited the First National Conference on denominated private respondent as "Vice Chairman was the "organizer" of the FNCLT referred to in the
Land Transportation, the letterheads used listing and Executive Director," and not as organizer. Borjal articles, the public would have remained in
different telephone numbers, the donation blissful ignorance of his identity. It is therefore clear
of P100,000.00 from Juliano Lim and the reference No less than private respondent himself that on the element of identifiability alone the case
to the "organizer of the conference" - the very admitted that the FNCLT had several organizers and falls.
same appellation employed in all the column items - that he was only a part of the organization, thus -
as having sufficiently established the identity of The above disquisitions notwithstanding, and
private respondent Wenceslao for those who knew I would like to clarify for the record that I was only on the assumption arguendo that private
about the FNCLT who were present at its inception, a part of the organization. I was invited then respondent has been sufficiently identified as the
and who had pledged their assistance to it. because I was the head of the technical panel of the subject of Borjal's disputed comments, we now
House of Representatives Sub-Committee on proceed to resolve the other issues and pass upon
We hold otherwise. These conclusions are at
Industrial Policy that took care of congressional the pertinent findings of the courts a quo.
variance with the evidence at hand. The questioned
hearings.[16]
articles written by Borjal do not identify private The third, fourth, fifth and sixth assigned errors
respondent Wenceslao as the organizer of the all revolve around the primary question of whether
conference. The first of the Jaywalker articles which Significantly, private respondent himself the disputed articles constitute privileged
appeared in the 31 May 1989 issue of The entertained doubt that he was the person spoken of communications as to exempt the author from
Philippine Star yielded nothing to indicate that in Borjal's columns. The former even called up liability.
private respondent was the person referred to columnist Borjal to inquire if he (Wenceslao) was
therein. Surely, as observed by petitioners, there the one referred to in the subject articles. [17] His The trial court ruled that petitioner Borjal
letter to the editor published in the 4 June 1989 cannot hide behind the proposition that his articles
were millions of "heroes" of the EDSA Revolution
and anyone of them could be "self-proclaimed" or issue of The Philippine Star even showed private are privileged in character under the provisions of
respondent Wenceslao's uncertainty - Art. 354 of The Revised Penal Code which state -
an "organizer of seminars and conferences." As a
matter of fact, in his 9 June 1989 column petitioner
Borjal wrote about the "so-called First National Although he used a subterfuge, I was almost Art. 354. Requirement for publicity. - Every
Conference on Land Transportation whose principal certain that Art Borjal referred to the First National defamatory imputation is presumed to be malicious,
organizers are not specified" (italics supplied). Conference on Land Transportation (June 29-30) even if it be true, if no good intention and
[11]
Neither did the FNCLT letterheads[12] disclose the and me in the second paragraph of his May 31 justifiable motive for making it is shown, except in
identity of the conference organizer since these column x x x[18] the following cases:
contained only an enumeration of names where
private respondent Francisco Wenceslao was

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 67 of 80

1) A private communication made by any observed by the appellate court, they are must, sui generis, be protective of public
person to another in the performance of neither private communications nor fair and true opinion. This closely adheres to the democratic
any legal, moral or social duty; and, report without any comments or remarks. However theory of free speech as essential to collective self-
this does not necessarily mean that they are not determination and eschews the strictly libertarian
2) A fair and true report, made in good privileged. To be sure, the enumeration under Art. view that it is protective solely of self- expression
faith, without any comments or 354 is not an exclusive list of qualifiedly privileged which, in the words of Yale Sterling Professor Owen
remarks, of any judicial, legislative or communications since fair commentaries on Fiss,[23] makes its appeal to the individualistic ethos
other official proceedings which are not matters of public interest are likewise that so dominates our popular and political
of confidential nature, or of any privileged. The rule on privileged communications culture. It is therefore clear that the restrictive
statement, report or speech delivered in had its genesis not in the nation's penal code but in interpretation vested by the Court of Appeals on the
said proceedings, or of any other act the Bill of Rights of the Constitution guaranteeing penal provision exempting from liability only private
performed by public officers in the freedom of speech and of the press.[19] As early as communications and fair and true report without
exercise of their functions. 1918, in United States v. Caete,[20] this Court ruled comments or remarks defeats, rather than
Respondent court explained that the writings in that publications which are privileged for reasons of promotes, the objective of the rule on privileged
question did not fall under any of the exceptions public policy are protected by the constitutional communications, sadly contriving as it does, to
described in the above-quoted article since these guaranty of freedom of speech. This constitutional suppress the healthy effloresence of public debate
were neither "private communications" nor "fair and right cannot be abolished by the mere failure of the and opinion as shining linchpins of truly democratic
true report x x x without any comments or legislature to give it express recognition in the societies.
remarks." But this is incorrect. statute punishing libels.
To reiterate, fair commentaries on matters of
A privileged communication may be either The concept of privileged communications is public interest are privileged and constitute a valid
absolutely privileged or qualifiedly implicit in the freedom of the press. As held defense in an action for libel or slander. The
privileged. Absolutely privileged communications in Elizalde v. Gutierrez[21] and reiterated in Santos v. doctrine of fair comment means that while in
are those which are not actionable even if the Court of Appeals[22] - general every discreditable imputation publicly
author has acted in bad faith. An example is found made is deemed false, because every man is
To be more specific, no culpability could be
in Sec. 11, Art. VI, of the 1987 Constitution which presumed innocent until his guilt is judicially
imputed to petitioners for the alleged offending proved, and every false imputation is deemed
exempts a member of Congress from liability for publication without doing violence to the concept of
any speech or debate in the Congress or in any malicious, nevertheless, when the discreditable
privileged communications implicit in the freedom imputation is directed against a public person in his
Committee thereof. Upon the other hand, qualifiedly of the press. As was so well put by Justice Malcolm
privileged communications containing defamatory public capacity, it is not necessarily actionable. In
in Bustos: Public policy, the welfare of society, and order that such discreditable imputation to a public
imputations are not actionable unless found to have the orderly administration of government have
been made without good intention or justifiable official may be actionable, it must either be a false
demanded protection of public opinion. The allegation of fact or a comment based on a false
motive. To this genre belong "private inevitable and incontestable result has been the
communications" and "fair and true report without supposition. If the comment is an expression of
development and adoption of the doctrine of opinion, based on established facts, then it is
any comments or remarks." privilege. immaterial that the opinion happens to be
Indisputably, petitioner Borjals questioned The doctrine formulated in these two (2) cases mistaken, as long as it might reasonably be inferred
writings are not within the exceptions of Art. 354 resonates the rule that privileged communications from the facts.[24]
of The Revised Penal Code for, as correctly

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 68 of 80

There is no denying that the questioned articles the FNCLT aiming to reinvent and reshape the speech and press prohibit a public official or public
dealt with matters of public interest. In his transportation laws of the country and seeking to figure from recovering damages for a defamatory
testimony, private respondent spelled out the source its funds for the project from the public at falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he
objectives of the conference thus - large cannot dissociate itself from the public proves that the statement was made with actual
character of its mission. As such, it cannot but malice, i.e., with knowledge that it was false or with
x x x x The principal conference objective is to invite close scrutiny by the media obliged to inform reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.
come up with a draft of an Omnibus Bill that will the public of the legitimacy of the purpose of the
activity and of the qualifications and integrity of the The raison d'etre for the New York
embody a long term land transportation policy for
Times doctrine was that to require critics of official
presentation to Congress in its next regular session personalities behind it.
conduct to guarantee the truth of all their factual
in July. Since last January, the National Conference
This in effect is the strong message in New assertions on pain of libel judgments would lead to
on Land Transportation (NCLT), the conference
York Times v. Sullivan[27] which the appellate court self-censorship, since would-be critics would be
secretariat, has been enlisting support from all
failed to consider or, for that matter, to heed. It deterred from voicing out their criticisms even if
sectors to ensure the success of the project.[25]
insisted that private respondent was not, properly such were believed to be true, or were in fact true,
speaking, a "public offical" nor a "public figure," because of doubt whether it could be proved or
Private respondent likewise testified that the which is why the defamatory imputations against because of fear of the expense of having to prove
FNCLT was raising funds through solicitation from him had nothing to do with his task of organizing it.[28]
the public - the FNCLT.
In the present case, we deem private
Q: Now, in this first letter, you have attached a New York Times v. Sullivan was decided by the respondent a public figure within the purview of
budget and it says here that in this seminar U. S. Supreme Court in the 1960s at the height of the New York Times ruling. At any rate, we have
of the First National Conference the bloody rioting in the American South over racial also defined "public figure" in Ayers Production Pty.,
on Land Transportation, you will need aroun segregation. The then City Commissioner L. B. Ltd. v. Capulong[29] as -
d One million eight hundred fifteen thousand Sullivan of Montgomery, Alabama, sued New York
pesos, is that right? Times for publishing a paid political advertisement x x x x a person who, by his accomplishments,
A: That was the budget estimate, sir. espousing racial equality and describing police fame, mode of living, or by adopting a profession or
atrocities committed against students inside a calling which gives the public a legitimate interest in
Q: How do you intend as executive officer, to college campus. As commissioner having charge his doings, his affairs and his character, has
raise this fund of your seminar? over police actions Sullivan felt that he was become a public personage. He is, in other words, a
sufficiently identified in the ad as the perpetrator of celebrity. Obviously, to be included in this category
A: Well, from sponsors such as government
the outrage; consequently, he sued New York are those who have achieved some degree of
agencies and private sectors or organizations
Times on the basis of what he believed were reputation by appearing before the public, as in the
as well as individual transport firms and
libelous utterances against him. case of an actor, a professional baseball player, a
from individual delegates/participants.[26]
pugilist, or any other entertainer. The list is,
The U. S. Supreme Court speaking through Mr.
The declared objective of the conference, the however, broader than this. It includes public
Justice William J. Brennan Jr. ruled against Sullivan
composition of its members and participants, and officers, famous inventors and explorers, war
holding that honest criticisms on the conduct of
the manner by which it was intended to be funded heroes and even ordinary soldiers, infant prodigy,
public officials and public figures are insulated from
no doubt lend to its activities as being genuinely and no less a personage than the Great Exalted
libel judgments. The guarantees of freedom of
imbued with public interest. An organization such as Ruler of the lodge. It includes, in short, anyone who

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 69 of 80

has arrived at a position where the public attention dissemination of information about the FNCLT in Malice connotes ill will or spite and speaks not
is focused upon him as a person. order to generate interest in the conference, and in response to duty but merely to injure the
the management and coordination of the various reputation of the person defamed, and implies an
The FNCLT was an undertaking infused with activities of the conference demanded from him intention to do ulterior and unjustifiable harm.
[34]
public interest. It was promoted as a joint project of utmost honesty, integrity and competence. These Malice is bad faith or bad motive.[35] It is the
the government and the private sector, and are matters about which the public has the right to essence of the crime of libel.[36]
organized by top government officials and be informed, taking into account the very public
character of the conference itself. In the milieu obtaining, can it be reasonably
prominent businessmen. For this reason, it
inferred that in writing and publishing the articles in
attracted media mileage and drew public attention
Concededly, petitioner Borjal may have gone question petitioner Borjal acted with malice?
not only to the conference itself but to the
overboard in the language employed describing the
personalities behind as well. As its Executive Primarily, private respondent failed to
"organizer of the conference." One is tempted to
Director and spokesman, private respondent substantiate by preponderant evidence that
wonder if it was by some mischievous gambit that
consequently assumed the status of a public figure. petitioner was animated by a desire to
he would also dare test the limits of the "wild blue
yonder" of free speech in this jurisdiction. But no inflict unjustifiable harm on his reputation, or
But even assuming ex-gratia argumenti that
that the articles were written and published without
private respondent, despite the position he matter how intemperate or deprecatory the
utterances appear to be, the privilege is not to be good motives or justifiable ends. On the other hand,
occupied in the FNCLT, would not qualify as a public
we find petitioner Borjal to have acted in good
figure, it does not necessarily follow that he could defeated nor rendered inutile for, as succinctly
expressed by Mr. Justice Brennan in New York faith. Moved by a sense of civic duty and prodded
not validly be the subject of a public comment even
by his responsibility as a newspaperman, he
if he was not a public official or at least a public Times v. Sullivan, "[D]ebate on public issues should
be uninhibited, robust and wide open, and that it proceeded to expose and denounce what he
figure, for he could be, as long as he was involved
perceived to be a public deception. Surely, we
in a public issue. If a matter is a subject of public or may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes
unpleasantly sharp attacks on the government and cannot begrudge him for that. Every citizen has the
general interest, it cannot suddenly become less so
right to enjoy a good name and reputation, but we
merely because a private individual is involved or public officials.[31]
do not consider that petitioner Borjal has violated
because in some sense the individual did not
The Court of Appeals concluded that since that right in this case nor abused his press freedom.
voluntarily choose to become involved. The publics
malice is always presumed in the publication of
primary interest is in the event; the public focus is Furthermore, to be considered malicious, the
defamatory matters in the absence of proof to the
on the conduct of the participant and the content, libelous statements must be shown to have been
contrary, the question of privilege is immaterial.
effect and significance of the conduct, not the written or published with the knowledge that they
participant's prior anonymity or notoriety.[30] We reject this postulate. While, generally, are false or in reckless disregard of whether they
malice can be presumed from defamatory words, are false or not.[37] "Reckless disregard of what is
There is no denying that the questioned articles
the privileged character of a communication false or not" means that the defendant entertains
dealt with matters of public interest. A reading of
destroys the presumption of malice. [32] The onus of serious doubt as to the truth of the publication,
the imputations of petitioner Borjal against [38]
proving actual malice then lies on plaintiff, private or that he possesses a high degree of awareness
respondent Wenceslao shows that all these
respondent Wenceslao herein. He must bring home of their probable falsity.[39]
necessarily bore upon the latter's official conduct
to the defendant, petitioner Borjal herein, the
and his moral and mental fitness as Executive The articles subject of the instant case can
existence of malice as the true motive of his
Director of the FNCLT. The nature and functions of hardly be said to have been written with knowledge
conduct.[33]
his position which included solicitation of funds, that these are false or in reckless disregard of what

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 70 of 80

is false or not. This is not to say however that the Even assuming that the contents of the articles Malcolm expressed in U.S. v. Bustos,[48] that "the
very serious allegations of petitioner Borjal are false, mere error, inaccuracy or even falsity interest of society and the maintenance of good
assumed by private respondent to be directed alone does not prove actual malice. Errors or government demand a full discussion of public
against him are true. But we nevertheless find misstatements are inevitable in any scheme of truly affairs. Complete liberty to comment on the conduct
these at least to have been based on reasonable free expression and debate. Consistent with good of public men is a scalpel in the case of free
grounds formed after the columnist conducted faith and reasonable care, the press should not be speech. The sharp incision of its probe relieves the
several personal interviews and after considering held to account, to a point of suppression, for abscesses of officialdom. Men in public life may
the varied documentary evidence provided him by honest mistakes or imperfections in the choice of suffer under a hostile and unjust accusation; the
his sources. Thus, the following are supported by language. There must be some room for wound may be assuaged by the balm of a clear
documentary evidence: (a) that private respondent misstatement of fact as well as for conscience. A public official must not be too thin-
requested Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, then head of misjudgment. Only by giving them much leeway skinned with reference to comments upon his
the Garments and Textile Export Board (GTEB), to and tolerance can they courageously and effectively official acts.
expedite the processing and release of the import function as critical agencies in our democracy.
approval and certificate of availability of a garment [46]
In Bulletin Publishing Corp. v. Noel[47] we held - The foregoing disposition renders the second
and seventh assigned errors moot and academic,
firm in exchange for the monetary contribution of
Juliano Lim, which necessitated a reply from the hence, we find no necessity to pass upon them.
A newspaper especially one national in reach and
office of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo explaining the coverage, should be free to report on events and We must however take this opportunity to
procedure of the GTEB in processing applications developments in which the public has a legitimate likewise remind media practitioners of the high
and clarifying that all applicants were treated interest with minimum fear of being hauled to court ethical standards attached to and demanded by
equally;[40] (b) that Antonio Periquet was designated by one group or another on criminal or civil charges their noble profession. The danger of an unbridled
Chairman of the Executive Committee of the FNCLT for libel, so long as the newspaper respects and irrational exercise of the right of free speech and
notwithstanding that he had previously declined the keeps within the standards of morality and civility press, that is, in utter contempt of the rights of
offer;[41] and, (c) that despite the fact that then prevailing within the general community. others and in willful disregard of the cumbrous
President Aquino and her Secretary of responsibilities inherent in it, is the eventual self-
Transportation Rainerio Reyes declined the To avoid the self-censorship that would destruction of the right and the regression of
invitation to be guest speakers in the conference, necessarily accompany strict liability for erroneous human society into a veritable Hobbesian state of
their names were still included in the printout of the statements, rules governing liability for injury to nature where life is short, nasty and
FNCLT.[42] Added to these are the admissions of reputation are required to allow an adequate brutish. Therefore, to recognize that there can be
private respondent that: (a) he assisted Juliano Lim margin of error by protecting some inaccuracies. It no absolute "unrestraint" in speech is to truly
in his application for a quota allocation with the is for the same reason that the New York comprehend the quintessence of freedom in the
GTEB in exchange for monetary contributions to the Times doctrine requires that liability for defamation marketplace of social thought and action, genuine
FNCLT;[43] (b) he included the name of then of a public official or public figure may not be freedom being that which is limned by the freedom
Secretary of Transportation Rainerio Reyes in the imposed in the absence of proof of "actual malice" of others. If there is freedom of the press, ought
promotional materials of the conference on the part of the person making the libelous there not also be freedom from the press? It is in
notwithstanding the latter's refusal to lend his name statement. this sense that self-regulation as distinguished
to and participate in the FNCLT;[44] and, (c) he used from self-censorship becomes the ideal mean for,
different letterheads and telephone numbers.[45] At any rate, it may be salutary for private as Mr. Justice Frankfurter has warned, "[W]ithout x
respondent to ponder upon the advice of Mr. Justice x x a lively sense of responsibility, a free press may

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 71 of 80

readily become a powerful instrument of Every man has a right to discuss matters of public HON.IGNACIO M. CAPULONG and JUAN PONCE
injustice."[49] interest. A clergyman with his flock, an admiral with ENRILE, respondents.
his fleet, a general with his army, a judge with his
Lest we be misconstrued, this is not to diminish jury, we are, all of us, the subject of public G.R. No. 82398 April 29, 1988
nor constrict that space in which expression freely discussion. The view of our court has been thus
flourishes and operates. For we have always stated: It is only in despotisms that one must
strongly maintained, as we do now, that freedom of HAL MCELROY petitioner,
speak sub rosa, or in whispers, with bated breath, vs.
expression is man's birthright - constitutionally around the corner, or in the dark on a subject
protected and guaranteed, and that it has become HON. IGNACIO M. CAPULONG, in his capacity
touching the common welfare. It is the brightest as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court
the singular role of the press to act as its "defensor jewel in the crown of the law to speak and maintain
fidei" in a democratic society such as ours. But it is of Makati, Branch 134 and JUAN PONCE
the golden mean between defamation, on one ENRILE, respondents.
also worth keeping in mind that the press is the hand, and a healthy and robust right of free public
servant, not the master, of the citizenry, and its discussion, on the other.
freedom does not carry with it an unrestricted
hunting license to prey on the ordinary citizen.[50]
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The
FELICIANO, J.:
On petitioners counterclaim for damages, we Decision of the Court of Appeals of 25 March 1996
find the evidence too meager to sustain any and its Resolution of 12 September 1996 denying
reconsideration are REVERSED and SET ASIDE, and Petitioner Hal McElroy an Australian film maker, and
award. Indeed, private respondent cannot be said
the complaint for damages against petitioners is his movie production company, Petitioner Ayer
to have instituted the present suit in abuse of the
DISMISSED. Petitioners counterclaim for damages Productions pty Ltd. (Ayer
legal processes and with hostility to the press; or
is likewise DISMISSED for lack of merit. No costs. Productions), 1 envisioned, sometime in 1987, the
that he acted maliciously, wantonly, oppressively,
for commercial viewing and for Philippine and
fraudulently and for the sole purpose of harassing
SO ORDERED. international release, the histolic peaceful struggle
petitioners, thereby entitling the latter to
of the Filipinos at EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos
damages. On the contrary, private respondent
Avenue). Petitioners discussed this Project with
acted within his rights to protect his honor from
local movie producer Lope V. Juban who suggested
what he perceived to be malicious imputations
th they consult with the appropriate government
against him. Proof and motive that the institution of 14. People vs velasco (NF) agencies and also with General Fidel V. Ramos and
the action was prompted by a sinister design to vex
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who had played major
and humiliate a person must be clearly and
roles in the events proposed to be filmed.
preponderantly established to entitle the victim to 15. Ayer productions vs capulong
damages. The law could not have meant to impose
a penalty on the right to litigate, nor should The proposed motion picture entitled "The Four Day
counsels fees be awarded every time a party wins a G.R. No. 82380 April 29, 1988 Revolution" was endorsed by the Movie Television
suit.[51] Review and Classification Board as wel as the other
AYER PRODUCTIONS PTY. LTD. and McELROY government agencies consulted. General Fidel
For, concluding with the wisdom in Warren v. & McELROY FILM PRODUCTIONS, petitioners, Ramos also signified his approval of the intended
Pulitzer Publishing Co.[52] - vs. film production.

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 72 of 80

In a letter dated 16 December 1987, petitioner Hal appears to be no alternative to characters and experience directly
McElroy informed private respondent Juan Ponce Marcos except the Communists. dramatic recreation of the revolution.
Enrile about the projected motion picture enclosing The story incorporates actual
a synopsis of it, the full text of which is set out Next, Angie Fox a fiery Australian documentary footage filmed during
below: photo-journalist. A 'new girl in town,' the period which we hope will capture
she is quickly caught up in the events the unique atmosphere and forces
The Four Day Revolution is a six hour as it becomes dear that the time has that combined to overthrow President
mini-series about People Powera come for a change. Through Angle Marcos.
unique event in modern history that- and her relationship with one of the
made possible the Peaceful revolution Reform Army Movement Colonels (a David Williamson is Australia's
in the Philippines in 1986. fictitious character), we follow the leading playwright with some 14
developing discontent in the armed hugely successful plays to his
Faced with the task of dramatising forces. Their dislike for General Ver, credit(Don's Party,' 'The Club,'
these rerkble events, screenwriter their strong loyalty to Defense Travelling North) and 11 feature films
David Williamson and history Prof Al Minister Enrile, and ultimately their (The Year of Living Dangerously,'
McCoy have chosen a "docu-drama" defection from Marcos. Gallipoli,' 'Phar Lap').
style and created [four] fictitious
characters to trace the revolution The fourth fictitious character is Ben Professor McCoy (University of New
from the death of Senator Aquino, to Balano, a middle-aged editor of a South Wales) is an American historian
the Feb revolution and the fleeing of Manila newspaper who despises the with a deep understanding of the
Marcos from the country. Marcos regime and is a supporter an Philippines, who has worked on the
promoter of Cory Aquino. Ben has research for this project for some 18
These character stories have been two daughters, Cehea left wing months. Together with Davi
woven through the real events to lawyer who is a secret member of the Wilhamgon they have developed a
help our huge international audience New People's Army, and Eva--a -P.R. script we believe accurately depicts
understand this ordinary period girl, politically moderate and very the complex issues and events that
inFilipino history. much in love with Tony. Ultimately, occurred during th period .
she must choose between her love
First, there's Tony O'Neil, an and the revolution. The six hour series is a McElroy and
American television journalist working McElroy co-production with Home Box
for major network. Tony reflects the Through the interviews and Office in American, the Australian
average American attitude to the experiences of these central Broadcast Corporation in Australia
Phihppinence once a colony, now characters, we show the complex and Zenith Productions in the United
the home of crucially important nature of Filipino society, and Kingdom
military bases. Although Tony is thintertwining series of events and
aware of the corruption and of characters that triggered these The proposed motion picture would be essentially a
Marcos' megalomania, for him, there remarkable changes. Through them re-enact. ment of the events that made possible the
also, we meet all of the principal

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 73 of 80

EDSA revolution; it is designed to be viewed in a set for hearing the application for preliminary similar film or photoplay, until further
six-hour mini-series television play, presented in a injunction. orders from this Court, upon
"docu-drama" style, creating four (4) fictional plaintiff's filing of a bond in the
characters interwoven with real events, and utilizing On 9 March 1988, Hal McElroy flied a Motion to amount of P 2,000,000.00, to answer
actual documentary footage as background. Dismiss with Opposition to the Petition for for whatever damages defendants
Preliminary Injunction contending that the mini- may suffer by reason of the
On 21 December 1987, private respondent Enrile series fim would not involve the private life of Juan injunction if the Court should finally
replied that "[he] would not and will not approve of Ponce Enrile nor that of his family and that a decide that plaintiff was not entitled
the use, appropriation, reproduction and/or preliminary injunction would amount to a prior thereto.
exhibition of his name, or picture, or that of any restraint on their right of free expression. Petitioner
member of his family in any cinema or television Ayer Productions also filed its own Motion to xxx xxx xxx
production, film or other medium for advertising or Dismiss alleging lack of cause of action as the mini-
commercial exploitation" and further advised series had not yet been completed. (Emphasis supplied)
petitioners that 'in the production, airing, showing,
distribution or exhibition of said or similar film, no In an Order 2 dated 16 March 1988, respondent On 22 March 1988, petitioner Ayer Productions
reference whatsoever (whether written, verbal or court issued a writ of Preliminary Injunction against came to this Court by a Petition for certiorari dated
visual) should not be made to [him] or any member the petitioners, the dispositive portion of which 21 March 1988 with an urgent prayer for
of his family, much less to any matter purely reads thus: Preliminary Injunction or Restraining Order, which
personal to them. petition was docketed as G.R. No. L-82380.
WHEREFORE, let a writ of preliminary
It appears that petitioners acceded to this demand injunction be issued, ordering A day later, or on 23 March 1988, petitiioner Hal
and the name of private respondent Enrile was defendants, and all persons and McElroy also filed separate Petition for certiorari
deleted from the movie script, and petitioners entities employed or under contract with Urgent Prayer for a Restraining Order or
proceeded to film the projected motion picture. with them, including actors, actresses Preliminary Injunction, dated 22 March 1988,
and members of the production staff docketed as G.R. No. L-82398.
On 23 February 1988, private respondent filed a and crew as well as all persons and
Complaint with application for Temporary entities acting on defendants' behalf, By a Resolution dated 24 March 1988, the petitions
Restraining Order and Wilt of Pretion with the to cease and desist from producing were consolidated and private respondent was
Regional Trial Court of Makati, docketed as Civil and filming the mini-series entitled required to file a consolidated Answer. Further, in
Case No. 88-151 in Branch 134 thereof, seeking to 'The Four Day Revolution" and from the same Resolution, the Court granted a
enjoin petitioners from producing the movie "The making any reference whatsoever to Temporary Restraining Order partially enjoining the
Four Day Revolution". The complaint alleged that plaintiff or his family and from implementation of the respondent Judge's Order of
petitioners' production of the mini-series without creating any fictitious character in 16 March 1988 and the Writ of Preliminary
private respondent's consent and over his objection, lieu of plaintiff which nevertheless is Injunction issued therein, and allowing the
constitutes an obvious violation of his right of based on, or bears rent substantial or petitioners to resume producing and filming those
privacy. On 24 February 1988, the trial court marked resemblance or similarity to, portions of the projected mini-series which do not
issued ex-parte a Temporary Restraining Order and or is otherwise Identifiable with, make any reference to private respondent or his
plaintiff in the production and any

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 74 of 80

family or to any fictitious character based on or of Ideas and the expression of the The counter-balancing of private respondent is to a
respondent. artistic impulse. Their effect on the right of privacy. It was demonstrated sometime ago
perception by our people of issues by the then Dean Irene R. Cortes that our law,
Private respondent seasonably filed his and public officials or public figures as constitutional and statutory, does include a right of
Consolidated Answer on 6 April 1988 invoking in the well as the pre cultural traits is privacy. 5 It is left to case law, however, to mark
main a right of privacy. considerable. Nor as pointed out out the precise scope and content of this right in
in Burstyn v. Wilson (343 US 495 differing types of particular situations. The right of
I [19421) is the Importance of motion privacy or "the right to be let alone," 6 like the right
pictures as an organ of public opinion of free expression, is not an absolute right. A
lessened by the fact that they are limited intrusion into a person's privacy has long
The constitutional and legal issues raised by the
designed to entertain as well as to been regarded as permissible where that person is
present Petitions are sharply drawn. Petitioners'
inform' (Ibid, 501). There is no clear a public figure and the information sought to be
claim that in producing and "The Four Day
dividing line between what involves elicited from him or to be published about him
Revolution," they are exercising their freedom of
knowledge and what affords pleasure. constitute of apublic character. 7 Succinctly put, the
speech and of expression protected under our
If such a distinction were sustained, right of privacy cannot be invoked resist publication
Constitution. Private respondent, upon the other
there is a diminution of the basic and dissemination of matters of public
hand, asserts a right of privacy and claims that the
right to free expression. ... 4 interest. 8 The interest sought to be protected by
production and filming of the projected mini-series
the right of privacy is the right to be free
would constitute an unlawful intrusion into his
This freedom is available in our country both to from unwarranted publicity, from
privacy which he is entitled to enjoy.
locally-owned and to foreign-owned motion picture the wrongful publicizing of the private affairs and
companies. Furthermore the circumstance that the activities of an individual which are outside the
Considering first petitioners' claim to freedom of realm of legitimate public concern. 9
production of motion picture films is a commercial
speech and of expression the Court would once
activity expected to yield monetary profit, is not a
more stress that this freedom includes the freedom
disqualification for availing of freedom of speech Lagunzad v. Vda. de Gonzales, 10 on which private
to film and produce motion pictures and to exhibit
and of expression. In our community as in many respondent relies heavily, recognized a right to
such motion pictures in theaters or to diffuse them
other countries, media facilities are owned either by privacy in a context which included a claim to
through television. In our day and age, motion
the government or the private sector but the freedom of speech and of
pictures are a univesally utilized vehicle of
private sector-owned media facilities commonly expression. Lagunzad involved a suit fortion picture
communication and medium Of expression. Along
require to be sustained by being devoted in whole producer as licensee and the widow and family of
with the press, radio and television, motion pictures
or in pailt to revenue producing activities. Indeed, the late Moises Padilla as licensors. This agreement
constitute a principal medium of mass
commercial media constitute the bulk of such gave the licensee the right to produce a motion
communication for information, education and
facilities available in our country and hence to Picture Portraying the life of Moises Padilla, a
entertainment. In Gonzales v. Katigbak, 3 former
exclude commercially owned and operated media mayoralty candidate of the Nacionalista Party for
Chief Justice Fernando, speaking for the Court,
from the exerciseof constitutionally protected om of the Municipality of Magallon, Negros Occidental
explained:
speech and of expression can only result in the during the November 1951 elections and for whose
drastic contraction of such constitutional liberties in murder, Governor Rafael Lacson, a member of the
1. Motion pictures are important both our country. Liberal Party then in power and his men were tried
as a medium for the communication and convicted. 11 In the judgment of the lower court

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 75 of 80

enforcing the licensing agreement against the invade a person's privacy to Blooming Mills Employees
licensee who had produced the motion picture and disseminate public information does Organization v. Philippine Blooming
exhibited it but refused to pay the stipulated not extend to a fictional or novelized Mills Co., Inc., 51 SCRA 191 [1963]).
royalties, the Court, through Justice Melencio- representation of a person, no matter It is not, however, without
Herrera, said: how public a he or she may be limitations. As held in Gonzales v.
(Garner v. Triangle Publications, Commission on Elections, 27 SCRA
Neither do we agree with petitioner's DCNY 97 F. Supp., SU 549 [1951]). 835, 858 [1960]:
subon that the Licensing Agreement In the case at bar, while it is true that
is null and void for lack of, or for petitioner exerted efforts to present a xxx xxx xxx
having an illegal cause or true-to-life Story Of Moises Padilla,
consideration, while it is true that petitioner admits that he included a The prevailing doctine is that the
petitioner bad pled the rights to the little romance in the film because clear and present danger rule is such
book entitled "The Moises Padilla without it, it would be a drab story of a limitation. Another criterion for
Story," that did not dispense with the torture and brutality. 12 permissible limitation on freedom of
need for prior consent and authority speech and the press, which includes
from the deceased heirs to portray In Lagunzad, the Court had need, as we have in the such vehicles of the mass media as
publicly episodes in said deceased's instant case, to deal with contraposed claims to radio, television and the movies, is
life and in that of his mother and the freedom of speech and of expression and to the "balancing of interest test" (Chief
member of his family. As held in privacy. Lagunzad the licensee in effect claimed, in Justice Enrique M. Fernando on the
Schuyler v. Curtis, ([1895],147 NY the name of freedom of speech and expression, a Bill of Rights, 1970 ed. p. 79). The
434,42 NE 31 LRA 286.49 Am St Rep right to produce a motion picture biography at least principle "requires a court to take
671), 'a privilege may be given the partly "fictionalized" of Moises Padilla without the conscious and detailed consideration
surviving relatives of a deperson to consent of and without paying pre-agreed royalties of the interplay of interests
protect his memory, but the privilege to the widow and family of Padilla. In rejecting the observable in given situation or type
wts for the benefit of the living, to licensee's claim, the Court said: of situation" (Separation Opinion of
protect their feelings and to preventa the late Chief Justice Castro in
violation of their own rights in the Lastly, neither do we find merit in Gonzales v. Commission on
character and memory of the petitioners contention that the Elections, supra, p. 899).
deceased.' Licensing Agreement infringes on the
constitutional right of freedom of In the case at bar, the interests
Petitioners averment that private speech and of the press, in that, as a observable are the right to privacy
respondent did not have any property citizen and as a newspaperman, he asserted by respondent and the right
right over the life of Moises Padilla had the right to express his thoughts of freedom of expression invoked by
since the latter was a public figure, is in film on the public life of Moises petitioner. taking into account the
neither well taken. Being a public Padilla without prior restraint.The interplay of those interests, we hold
figure ipso facto does not right freedom of expression, indeed, that under the particular
automatically destroy in toto a occupies a preferred position in the circumstances presented, and
person's right to privacy. The right to "hierarchy of civil liberties" (Philippine considering the obligations assumed

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 76 of 80

in the Licensing Agreement entered a complaint by the private respondent and issuing a 3. The extent of the instrusion upon the life of
into by petitioner, the validity of such Preliminary Injunction twenty (20) days later; for private respondent Juan Ponce Enrile that would be
agreement will have to be upheld the projected motion picture was as yet entailed by the production and exhibition of "The
particularly because the limits of uncompleted and hence not exhibited to any Four Day Revolution" would, therefore, be limited in
freedom of expression are reached audience. Neither private respondent nor the character. The extent of that intrusion, as this Court
when expression touches upon respondent trial Judge knew what the completed understands the synopsis of the proposed film, may
matters of essentially private film would precisely look like. There was, in other be generally described as such intrusion as is
concern." 13 words, no "clear and present danger" of any reasonably necessary to keep that film a truthful
violation of any right to privacy that private historical account. Private respondent does not
Whether the "balancing of interests test" or the respondent could lawfully assert. claim that petitioners threatened to depict in "The
clear and present danger test" be applied in respect Four Day Revolution" any part of the private life of
of the instant Petitions, the Court believes that a 2. The subject matter of "The Four Day Revolution" private respondent or that of any member of his
different conclusion must here be reached: The relates to the non-bloody change of government family.
production and filming by petitioners of the that took place at Epifanio de los Santos Avenue in
projected motion picture "The Four Day Revolution" February 1986, and the trian of events which led up 4. At all relevant times, during which the
does not, in the circumstances of this case, to that denouement. Clearly, such subject matter is momentous events, clearly of public concern, that
constitute an unlawful intrusion upon private one of public interest and concern. Indeed, it is, petitioners propose to film were taking place,
respondent's "right of privacy." petitioners' argue, of international interest. The private respondent was what Profs. Prosser and
subject thus relates to a highly critical stage in the Keeton have referred to as a "public figure:"
1. It may be observed at the outset that what is history of this countryand as such, must be
involved in the instant case is a prior and direct regarded as having passed into the public domain A public figure has been defined as a
restraint on the part of the respondent Judge upon and as an appropriate subject for speech and person who, by his accomplishments,
the exercise of speech and of expression by expression and coverage by any form of mass fame, or mode of living, or by
petitioners. The respondent Judge has restrained media. The subject mater, as set out in the adopting a profession or calling which
petitioners from filming and producing the entire synopsis provided by the petitioners and quoted gives the public a legitimate interest
proposed motion picture. It is important to note above, does not relate to the individual life and in his doings, his affairs, and his
that in Lagunzad, there was no prior restrain of any certainly not to the private life of private character, has become a 'public
kind imposed upon the movie producer who in fact respondent Ponce Enrile. Unlike in Lagunzad, which personage.' He is, in other words, a
completed and exhibited the film biography of concerned the life story of Moises Padilla necessarily celebrity. Obviously to be included in
Moises Padilla. Because of the speech and of including at least his immediate family, what we this category are those who have
expression, a weighty presumption of invalidity have here is not a film biography, more or less achieved some degree of reputation
vitiates. 14 The invalidity of a measure of prior fictionalized, of private respondent Ponce Enrile. by appearing before the public, as in
restraint doesnot, of course, mean that no "The Four Day Revolution" is not principally about, the case of an actor, a professional
subsequent liability may lawfully be imposed upon a nor is it focused upon, the man Juan Ponce Enrile' baseball player, a pugilist, or any
person claiming to exercise such constitutional but it is compelled, if it is to be historical, to refer to other entertainment. The list is,
freedoms. The respondent Judge should have the role played by Juan Ponce Enrile in the however, broader than this. It
stayed his hand, instead of issuing an ex-parte precipitating and the constituent events of the includes public officers, famous
Temporary Restraining Order one day after filing of change of government in February 1986. inventors and explorers, war heroes

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 77 of 80

and even ordinary soldiers, an infant it. "News" includes all events and over what the public may be
prodigy, and no less a personage items of information which are out of permitted to read; and they were
than the Grand Exalted Ruler of a the ordinary hum-drum routine, and understandably liberal in allowing the
lodge. It includes, in short, anyone which have 'that indefinable quality of benefit of the doubt. 15
who has arrived at a position where information which arouses public
public attention is focused upon him attention.' To a very great extent the Private respondent is a "public figure" precisely
as a person. press, with its experience or instinct because, inter alia, of his participation as a principal
as to what its readers will want, has actor in the culminating events of the change of
Such public figures were held to have succeeded in making its own government in February 1986. Because his
lost, to some extent at least, their definination of news, as a glance at participation therein was major in character, a film
tight to privacy. Three reasons were any morning newspaper will reenactment of the peaceful revolution that fails to
given, more or less indiscrimately, in sufficiently indicate. It includes make reference to the role played by private
the decisions" that they had sought homicide and othe crimes, arrests respondent would be grossly unhistorical. The right
publicity and consented to it, and so and police raides, suicides, marriages of privacy of a "public figure" is necessarily
could not complaint when they and divorces, accidents, a death from narrower than that of an ordinary citizen. Private
received it; that their personalities the use of narcotics, a woman with a respondent has not retired into the seclusion of
and their affairs has already public, rare disease, the birth of a child to a simple private citizenship. he continues to be a
and could no longer be regarded as twelve year old girl, the reappearance "public figure." After a successful political campaign
their own private business; and that of one supposed to have been during which his participation in the EDSA
the press had a privilege, under the murdered years ago, and Revolution was directly or indirectly referred to in
Constitution, to inform the public undoubtedly many other similar the press, radio and television, he sits in a very
about those who have become matters of genuine, if more or less public place, the Senate of the Philippines.
legitimate matters of public deplorable, popular appeal.
interest. On one or another of these 5. The line of equilibrium in the specific context of
grounds, and sometimes all, it was The privilege of enlightening the the instant case between the constitutional freedom
held that there was no liability when public was not, however, limited, to of speech and of expression and the right of
they were given additional publicity, the dissemination of news in the privacy, may be marked out in terms of a
as to matters legitimately within the scene of current events. It extended requirement that the proposed motion picture must
scope of the public interest they had also to information or education, or be fairly truthful and historical in its presentation of
aroused. even entertainment and amusement, events. There must, in other words, be no knowing
by books, articles, pictures, films and or reckless disregard of truth in depicting the
The privilege of giving publicity to broadcasts concerning interesting participation of private respondent in the EDSA
news, and other matters of public phases of human activity in general, Revolution. 16 There must, further, be no
interest, was held to arise out of the as well as the reproduction of the presentation of the private life of the unwilling
desire and the right of the public to public scene in newsreels and private respondent and certainly no revelation of
know what is going on in the world, travelogues. In determining where to intimate or embarrassing personal facts. 17 The
and the freedom of the press and draw the line, the courts were invited proposed motion picture should not enter into what
other agencies of information to tell to exercise a species of censorship Mme. Justice Melencio-Herrera in Lagunzad referred

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 78 of 80

to as "matters of essentially private concern." 18 To Private respondent filed a Counter-Manifestation on Judge's Order of 16 March 1988 and made
the extent that "The Four Day Revolution" limits 13 April 1988 stating that the "slight similarity" PERMANENT, and
itself in portraying the participation of private between private respondent's complaint and that on
respondent in the EDSA Revolution to those events Honasan in the construction of their legal basis of b) Treating the Manifestations of petitioners dated
which are directly and reasonably related to the right to privacy as a component of the cause of 30 March 1988 and 4 April 1988 as separate
the public facts of the EDSA Revolution, the action is understandable considering that court Petitions for Certiorari with Prayer for Preliminary
intrusion into private respondent's privacy cannot pleadings are public records; that private Injunction or Restraining Order, the Court, in the
be regarded as unreasonable and actionable. Such respondent's cause of action for invasion of privacy exercise of its plenary and supervisory jurisdiction,
portrayal may be carried out even without a license is separate and distinct from that of Honasan's hereby REQUIRES Judge Teofilo Guadiz of the
from private respondent. although they arose from the same tortious act of Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 147,
petitioners' that the rule on permissive joinder of forthwith to DISMISS Civil Case No. 88-413 and
II parties is not mandatory and that, the cited cases accordingly to SET ASIDE and DISSOLVE his
on "forum shopping" were not in point because the Temporary Restraining Order dated 25 March 1988
In a Manifestation dated 30 March 1988, petitioner parties here and those in Civil Case No. 88-413 are and any Preliminary Injunction that may have been
Hal McElroy informed this Court that a Temporary not identical. issued by him.
Restraining Order dated 25 March 1988, was issued
by Judge Teofilo Guadiz of the Regional Trial Court For reasons that by now have become clear, it is No pronouncement as to costs.
of Makati, Branch 147, in Civil Case No. 88-413, not necessary for the Court to deal with the
entitled "Gregorio B. Honasan vs. Ayer Productions question of whether or not the lawyers of private SO ORDERED.
Pty. Ltd., McElroy Film Productions, Hal McElroy, respondent Ponce Enrile have engaged in "forum
Lope Juban and PMP Motion for Pictures Production" shopping." It is, however, important to dispose to
enjoining him and his production company from the complaint filed by former Colonel Honasan who,
further filimg any scene of the projected mini-series having refused to subject himself to the legal
film. Petitioner alleged that Honasan's complaint processes of the Republic and having become once
16.Larobis vs CA
was a "scissors and paste" pleading, cut out straight again in fugitive from justice, must be deemed to
grom the complaint of private respondent Ponce have forfeited any right the might have had to
Enrile in Civil Case No. 88-151. Petitioner Ayer protect his privacy through court processes. G.R. No. 104189 March 30, 1993
Productions, in a separate Manifestation dated 4
April 1988, brought to the attention of the Court the WHEREFORE, AMELIA LAROBIS, petitioner,
same information given by petitoner Hal McElroy, vs.
reiterating that the complaint of Gregorio B. a) the Petitions for Certiorari are GRANTED DUE COURT OF APPEALS and the PEOPLE OF THE
Honasan was substantially identical to that filed by COURSE, and the Order dated 16 March 1988 of PHILIPPINES, respondents.
private respondent herein and stating that in respondent trial court granting a Writ of Preliminary
refusing to join Honasan in Civil Case No. 88-151, Injunction is hereby SET ASIDE. The limited Francisco D. Alas for petitioner.
counsel for private respondent, with whom counsel Temporary Restraining Order granted by this Court
for Gregorio Honasan are apparently associated, on 24 March 1988 is hereby MODIFIED by enjoining The Solicitor General for public respondents.
deliberately engaged in "forum shopping." unqualifiedly the implementation of respondent

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 79 of 80

attorney's fees, (ii) P3,500.00 as moral damages, The sole legal question raised by petitioner is her
and (iii) P100.00 as cost. (Rollo, p. 19) claim that, at most, she is liable only for the crime
QUIASON, J.: of slight oral defamation. (Rollo, p. 14)
The Court of Appeals and two trial courts found that
This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule petitioner had shouted, within hearing distance of Whether the offense committed is serious or slight
45 of the Revised Rules of Court of the decision of several persons, the following words calculated to oral defamation, depends not only upon the sense
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 10507, humiliate and to cast aspersion on the complainant: and grammatical meaning of the utterances but
entitled "Amelia Larobis v. Hon. Rodrigo F. Lim, Jr., also upon the special circumstances of the case, like
at al." promulgated on November 20, 1991 and the LIMBONGAN, MARO NGA the social standing or the advanced age of the
resolution of the same Court dated January 22, MAGTUTUDLO, PATAY GUTOM, offended party. (Victorio v. Court of Appeals, 173
1992, denying the motion for reconsideration of TIGULANG GIUBAN NA, BOGOK, SCRA 645 [1989]; Balite v. People, 18 SCRA 280
said decision. HUGAWAN, IPASALBIDS KA NAKO NI [1966])
DODONG AMORA. ("You are a cheat,
In CA-G.R. No. 10507, the Court of Appeals a dishonest teacher, you are dead Elements that qualify the oral defamation to the
affirmed the decision of the Regional Trial Court, hungry, an old person with gray hair, graver offense are extant. Petitioner disregarded
Manolo-Fortich, Bukidnon, Br. XI, in Criminal Case dull, dirty, I will have you salvage(d) the respect due to the age and status of the
No. 979 insofar as it found petitioner guilty of the by Dodong Amora.") (Rollo, pp. 16 & complainant, who was 61 years old and has been a
crime of grave oral defamation but it modified the 18) public school teacher for the past 32 years.
penalty imposed on petitioner to an imprisonment
of "three (3) months of arresto mayor as minimum In this petition, petitioner claims that the Court of The offense, having been qualified to grave oral
and one year and eight (8) months of prision Appeals erred in the evaluation of the evidence, defamation by the aforementioned special
correccional as maximum." particularly in its findings that her defamatory circumstances, cannot be reduced to simple oral
utterances were "calculated if not wholly defamation by the claim that the slanderous words
In Criminal Case No. 979, the Regional Trial Court premeditated" to insult the complainant, that there were said in the heat of anger. Besides, the
rendered its decision dated January 9, 1991, was no provocation on the part of the complainant, slanderous words were uttered with evident intent,
affirming in toto the decision of the 2nd Municipal and that the utterances were not made in the heat using the language of Balite v. People (18 SCRA
Circuit Trial Court of Manolo Fortich-Libona, of anger and obfuscation. 280) to "strike deep into the character of the
Bukidnon, finding petitioner herein guilty beyond victim."
reasonable doubt of the crime of grave oral Petitioner has not shown any grounds to warrant a
defamation and (a) sentencing her to suffer an disturbance of the findings of facts of not one, not In reviewing the penalty meted on petitioner, WE
imprisonment of an "Indeterminate Sentence of two but three different courts. (Padilla v. Court of found that the Regional Trial Court erred in
four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto Appeals, 157 SCRA 729 [1988]; Calalang v. imposing the minimum penalty while the Court of
mayor in its maximum period to one (1) year and Intermediate Appellate Court, 194 SCRA 514 Appeals erred in imposing the maximum penalty.
one (1) day of prision correccional minimum [1991])
period", and (b) ordering her to pay the While petitioner did not raise said errors as issues in
complainant the amounts of (i) P1,500.00 as her appeal, this Court has the authority to review
the same if their consideration is necessary in

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes
Page 80 of 80

arriving at a just resolution of the case. (Miguel v. by law because the said penalty is composed only The courts should be careful in fixing penalties
Court of Appeals, 29 SCRA 760 [1969]; Sociedad of two periods, i.e., arresto mayor maximum because any error may have dire consequences, as
Europea de Financiacion, S.A. v. Court of Appeals, and prision correccional minimum. (Art. 65, Revised in this case wherein the prison term imposed on the
193 SCRA 105 [1991]). Penal Code) The rules on the application of the accused has been increased erroneously. To unduly
different circumstances attending the commission of prolong the confinement of an accused, even by
The penalty imposed by Article 358 of the Revised an offense require three periods. (Art. 64, Revised only one day, is unjust in any sense of the word.
Penal Code for grave oral defamation is arresto Penal Code).
mayor its maximum period to prision correccional in WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is
its minimum period. Dividing the penalty for grave oral defamation into affirmed with the modification that the petitioner is
three periods produces the following results: sentenced to an indeterminate penalty ranging from
In order to fix the minimum term of the penalty three (3) months of arresto mayor to one (1) year
required by the Indeterminate Sentence Law, WE Minimum Four (4) months and one and one (1) day of prision correccional. In all other
descend one degree lower from arresto (1) day to one (1) year; respects, the civil liabilities imposed by the Regional
mayor maximum to arresto mayor medium or an Trial Court are affirmed.
imprisonment of two (2) months and one (1) day to Medium: One (1) year and one (1)
four (4) months. (Sec. 1, Act No. 4103 as amended day to one (1) year and eight (8) SO ORDERED.
by Act No. 4225; People v. Gonzales, 73 Phil. 549 months; and
[1942]) The Regional Trial Court did not follow this
mandate of the law. Maximum: One (1) year, eight (8)
months and one (1) day to two (2)
The Court of Appeals was correct in fixing the years and four (4) months. (II Reyes,
minimum term of the penalty to three (3) months The Revised Penal Code, 12th ed.,
of arresto mayor which is within the range 1006)
of arresto mayor medium, instead of four (4)
months and one (l) day of arresto mayor as fixed There being neither mitigating nor aggravating
by the Regional Trial Court. circumstances present in this case, the maximum
term of the penalty should be imposed in its
The Court of Appeals however erred in increasing medium period, i.e., within the range of one (1)
the maximum term of the penalty from one (1) year year and one (1) day to one (1) year and eight (8)
and one (1) day of prision correccional as imposed months. (Art. 65 (1), Revised Penal Code)
by the Regional Trial Court, to one (1) year and
eight (8) months of prision correccional. (Rollo, p. The maximum term of the penalty imposed by the
24) Regional Trial Court is within the range of the
medium period and there is no legal basis for the
With respect to the imposition of the maximum Court of Appeals to change it.
term of the penalty, WE have to divide by three the
number of days included in the penalty prescribed

Criminal Law Review Fulltext Cases Fiscal Dura


Labrador Notes