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G.R. No.

L-80778 June 20, 1989

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
HONORABLE PEDRO T. SANTIAGO, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of Branch 101 of the Regional
Trial Court of Quezon City and SEGUNDINA ROSARIO y SEMBRANO, respondents.

U.P. Office of Legal Services for petitioner University of the Philippines.


Candido G. Del Rosario & Associates for private respondent.

FACTS:
(Special Civil Action for Certiorari)

An Information for violation of P.D. No. 772 was filed by the Assistant City Fiscal of Quezon
City, with the approval of the city fiscal, in the RTC of the same city against Segundina Rosario y
Sembrano.

(PD 772 is a Presidential Decree Penalizing Squatting and other Similar Acts)

Upon arraignment the accused pleaded not guilty and a pre-trial conference was held
wherein the accused informed the court that she has a title, a building permit and survey plan
covering the subject land.

The trial court then issued an order instructing both parties to submit their respective proffer
of documentary exhibits together with their positions (referring to position paper) as to whether the
case will be heard or dismissed

The private prosecutor presented a position paper showing that the said property belongs
to the University of the Philippines (U.P.)

On the other hand, the accused submitted a proffer of exhibits.

An opposition thereto was filed by U.P. stating that the proffer of exhibits is irregular and
without basis as in fact the evidence was not marked in the pre-trial; that the proffer of exhibits is
not covered by Rule 118, Sections 1 and 2 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure; that what is
allowed only in Section 2 thereof is the marking of the exhibits for Identification purposes of
documentary evidence; that the manifestation submitting the case for resolution has no legal
basis; and thus it is prayed that the proffer of exhibits and manifestation be denied for being
irregular or not pursuant to the rules

The decision was rendered by the respondent judge acquitting the accused of the offense
charged.

ISSUE:

1. Whether or Not, the acquittal of the accused, rendered without the necessity of trial is
meritorious.

No, the acquittal of the accused, rendered without the necessity of trial is not meritorious

In criminal cases a pre-trial may be held by the trial court only where the accused and his
counsel agree. Such pre-trial shall cover plea bargaining, stipulation of facts, marking for
Identification of evidence of the parties, waiver of objections to admissibility of evidence and such
other matters as may promote a fair and expeditious trial. After the pre-trial, the trial court shall
issue an order reciting the actions taken, the facts stipulated, and evidence marked, and thereafter
the trial on the merits shall proceed which shall be limited to matters not disposed of during the
pre-trial

In this case, a pre-trial was held wherein the accused alleged that she has a title covering the
property in question. The respondent judge thus required the parties to submit their proffer of
documentary exhibits and their position paper as to whether or not the case would be heard or
dismissed.

Under the aforestated provisions of the Rules on Criminal Procedure, particularly Section 2
thereof, what is specified is the marking for identification of evidence for the parties and the waiver
of objections to admissibility of evidence.

A proffer of exhibits or evidence is not among those enumerated. Such proffer of evidence or
more specifically in offer of evidence is generally made at the time a party closes the presentation
of his evidence in which case the adverse party is given the opportunity to object thereto and the
court rules on the same. When evidence proposed to be presented is rejected by the court a
proffer of evidence is usually made stating its nature and purpose had it been admitted.

(In a trial, to proffer (sometimes profer) is to offer evidence in support of an argument, or elements
of an affirmative defense or offense. A party with the burden of proof must proffer sufficient evidence to
carry that burden)

The Court finds that the respondent judge committed a grave abuse of discretion in
rendering the aforestated decision without affording the prosecution the opportunity to have its day
in court.

No doubt, the acquittal of the accused is a nullity for want of due process. The prosecution
was not given the opportunity to present its evidence or even to rebut the representations of the
accused. The prosecution is as much entitled to due process as the accused in a criminal case.

2. Whether or not double jeopardy attaches in the event of a judgment of acquittal of the accused
without a trial is meritorious.

No, Double Jeopardy cannot be invoked in this case.

There is double jeopardy only when:


1) there is a valid complaint or information;
2) filed before a competent court;
3) to which defendant had pleaded;
and
4) of which he has previously been convicted or acquitted or which was dismissed or
terminated without his express consent.

In this case, the prosecution was deprived of an opportunity to prosecute and prove its
case. The decision that was rendered in disregard of such imperative is void for lack of jurisdiction.
It was not a court of competent jurisdiction when it precipitately rendered a decision of acquittal
after a pre-trial. A trial should follow a pre-trial. That is the mandate of the rules. Obviously, double
jeopardy has not set in this case.

3. Whether or Not the complainant or private offended party in a criminal case can file a special
civil action for certiorari questioning the validity of said judgment of acquittal without the
intervention of the Solicitor General

It is well-settled that in criminal cases where the offended party is the State, the interest of
the private complainant or the private offended party is limited to the civil liability. Thus, in the
prosecution of the offense, the complainant's role is limited to that of a witness for the prosecution.
If a criminal case is dismissed by the trial court or if there is an acquittal, an appeal therefrom on
the criminal aspect may be undertaken only by the State through the Solicitor General. Only the
Solicitor General may represent the People of the Philippines on appeal. The private offended
party or complainant may not take such appeal. However, the said offended party or complainant
may appeal the civil aspect despite the acquittal of the accused.

In a special civil action for certiorari filed under Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court
wherein it is alleged that the trial court committed a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
jurisdiction or on other jurisdictional grounds, the rules state that the petition may be filed by the
person aggrieved. In such case, the aggrieved parties are the State and the private offended party
or complainant. The complainant has an interest in the civil aspect of the case so he may file such
special civil action questioning the decision or action respondent court on jurisdictional grounds. In
so doing, complainant should not bring the action in the name of the People of the Philippines. The
action may be prosecuted in name of said complainant.

In this case, the Solicitor General upheld the right of U.P. to file the petition as an aggrieved
party. Inasmuch as the prosecution was deprived of due process, the questioned decision of the
respondent judge acquitting the accused is null and void as it was rendered in grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.