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MANUEL J. JIMENEZ, JR. v.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES


G.R. Nos. 209195 and 209215, 17 September 2014, SECOND DIVISION,
(Brion, J.)

In a motion to discharge an accused to become a state witness, it is still the trial court that
determines whether the prosecutions preliminary assessment of the accused-witness qualifications
satisfies the procedural norms. This is a symbiotic relationship as the trial court largely exercises its
prerogative based on the prosecutors findings and evaluation.

Manuel A. Montero confessed his participation in the killing of Ruby Rose


Barrameda naming Manuel J. Jimenez and several others as co-conspirators. His
statements detailed where the alleged steel casing containing the body of Ruby Rose
was dumped, led to the recovery of a cadaver near the place which he pointed.
Montero filed a motion for discharge as a state witness for the prosecution, to
which Jimenez opposed. The motion to discharge was granted by Judge Zaldy B.
Docena stating that the prosecution had presented clear, satisfactory and convincing
evidence showing compliance with the requisites of granting the said motion.

Jimenez opposed Judge Docenas ruling averring that the Judge committed
grave abuse of discretion in granting the motion to discharge because: (1)the
requirements for granting a motion were not properly complied; (2)there is no
absolute necessity of the testimony of Montero; (3)Monteros testimony do not
corroborate with the prosecutions evidence; (4) and Montero is favored as a state
witness though he appears to be the most guilty.

ISSUE:

Did Judge Docena gravely abuse his discretion when he granted the motion
to discharge Montero as a state witness?

RULING:

No. Jurisprudence has defined grave abuse of discretion as the capricious


and whimsical exercise of judgment as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary
and despotic manner.To resolve a motion to discharge under Section 17, Rule 119
of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, itonly require that that the testimony of
the accused sought to be discharged be substantially corroborated in its material
points, not on all points.A trial judge cannot be expected or required, at the start of
the trial, to inform himself with absolute certainty of everything that may develop in
the course of the trial with respect to the guilty participation of the accused. It is still
the trial court that determines whether the prosecutions preliminary assessment of
the accused-witness qualifications to be a state witness satisfies the procedural
norms. This relationship is in reality a symbiotic one as the trial court, by the very
nature of its role in the administration of justice, largely exercises its prerogative
based on the prosecutors findings and evaluation.

UST Law Review, Vol. LIX, No. 1, May 2015


Most guilty refers to the highest degree of culpability in terms of
participation in the commission of the offense and does not necessarily mean the
severity of the penalty imposed. What the rule avoids is the possibility that the most
guilty would be set free while his co-accused who are less guilty in terms of
participation would be penalized. Thus, as a rule, what are controlling are the
specific acts of the accused in relation to the crime committed. The Court draws
attention to the requirement that a state witness does not need to be found to be the
least guilty; he or she should not only appear to be the most guilty.

UST Law Review, Vol. LIX, No. 1, May 2015