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015

COSEP v. PEOPLE
G.R. No. 110353
May 21, 1998
Article III | Section 1 | Procedural Due Process | Judicial Proceedings | Aspects of the
Proceedings

FACTS:
Petitioner, Tomas Cosep, was the Municipal Planning and Development Coordination
officer of Olutanga, Zamboanga del Sur. In 1987, the municipality of Olutanga decided to
construct an artesian well for one of its localities and secured the services of private complainant
Angelino Alegre. The project was under a “pakyaw” agreement for the contract price of 5,000.00
Php.
After the project was finished, petitioner secured the amount of 5,000.00 Php from the
municipal treasurer, and gave 4,500.00 Php to private complainant. The balance of was allegedly
withheld by petitioner as reimbursement for his expenses.
Private complainant filed a case before the Sandiganbayan against the petitioner for
violating Section 3(b) of R.A. No. 3019. Subsequently, the petitioner entered a plea of not guilty
to the charge; raising the point that private complainant was never a contractor and merely a
laborer. Petitioner also claims that the amount of 4,500.00 Php he gave to the private
complainant represents the total salary of the workers who constructed the well.
The Sandiganbayan ruled against petitioner finding him guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
Petitioner then filed the instant petition contending that: 1.) he was not accorded an impartial trial
by the Sandiganbayan and 2.) his guilt was not proven beyond reasonable doubt.

ISSUES:
1. Whether petitioner was accorded an impartial trial by the Saandiganbayan.
2. Whether petitioner’s guilt was proven beyond reasonable doubt.

HELD:
1. Yes.
Petitioner claims that the Sandiganbayan was impartial upon him as the Sandiganbayan
Justices asked too many questions which he thinks was a sign of prejudgment of guilt.
However, the Supreme Court held that petitioner, like any other accused individual, is
entitled to a fair trial before an impartial and neutral judge. This is an indispensable imperative of
due process. However, this does not mean that judges must be passive and silent during the
proceedings. Questions designed to clarify points and to elicit additional relevant evidence are
not improper. Further, records show that petitioner, having the opportunity to manifest his
objections, answered the questions freely and without any objection.

2. No.
The Supreme Court takes exception from the general rule that the Sandiganbayan’s
factual findings are generally accorded respect, even finality, unless: (1) the conclusion is a
finding grounded entirely on speculations, surmises, and conjectures; (2) the inferences made are
manifestly mistaken; (3) there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) the judgment is based on
misapprehension of facts or premised on the absence of evidence on the record.

Prepared by: Jordane Michael Y. Yuteekiong 1

Consequently. the court believes that in affirming petitioner’s conviction would result in a serious injustice. When the guilt of the accused has not been proven with moral certainty. it is the court’s policy that the presumption of innocence of the accused must be favored and his exoneration be granted as a matter of right. Yuteekiong 2 . Prepared by: Jordane Michael Y.015 The Supreme Court held that the prosecution failed to establish private complainant’s assertion that he is a contractor.