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CRIMPRO

G.R. No. 160610


COBARRUBIAS vs. PEOPLE August 14, 2009
CARPIO, J.
JUDELIO COBARRUBIAS, Petitioner, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, THE HONORABLE COURT OF
APPEALS SPECIAL FORMER SECOND DIVISION, and HON.
BONIFACIO SANZ MACEDA, Acting Judge of the Regional Trial
Court of Las Piñas City, Branch 255, Respondents.
This is a petition for review1 of the Resolutions dated 10 March 2003 and 9 October 2003 of the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. SP No. 72315.
FACTS

1. In 1994, petitioner Judelio Cobarrubias was charged with Frustrated Homicide (Criminal Case No. 94-5036),
Homicide (Criminal Case No. 94-5038), Violation of Section 261(Q) of the Omnibus Election Code in relation
to Section 32 of Republic Act No. 7166 (Criminal Case No. 24-392), and Illegal Possession of Firearms under
Presidential Decree No. 1866 (Criminal Case No. 94-5037). Petitioner pleaded not guilty to all the charges
and trial followed.
2. On 20 March 2001, Judge Alumbres of the RTC of Las Piñas City, issued an Order, the dispositive portion of
which reads:

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the Court rules that the prosecution failed to establish the guilt of
the accused beyond reasonable doubt in Criminal Cases Nos. 94-5036 and 94-5037, and these cases are
ordered DISMISSED. Criminal Cases Nos. 94-5038 and 24392 should be set for further trial.

3. The prosecution did not appeal. Petitioner filed with the RTC a Motion for Correction of Clerical Error, alleging
that in the dispositive portion of the Order, Criminal Case No. 94-5038 should have been dismissed instead of
Criminal Case No. 94-5037, which should have been the case set for further trial. Petitioner maintained that
there was a typographical error in the dispositive portion considering that in the body of the Order, the trial
court ruled that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of petitioner in the charges
for Homicide and Frustrated Homicide.
4. On 26 February 2002, respondent Acting Maceda denied the motion, holding that the alleged error was
substantial in nature which affected the very merit of the case. Petitioner moved for reconsideration, which
respondent Judge denied on 23 July 2002.

5. On 21 August 2002, petitioner filed with the CA a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for a
Temporary Restraining Order or Writ of Preliminary Injunction. Petitioner sought to set aside the Orders of the
CA, which was dismissed for failure to submit with the petition a clear duplicate original or a certified true copy
of the assailed July 2002 order, and for failure of petitioner’s counsel to indicate his current official receipt
number and date of payment of the current Integrated Bar of the Philippines membership dues, pursuant to
SC Bar Matter No. 287.

6. Petitioner moved for reconsideration, which the CA granted. In a Resolution dated 11 December 2002, the CA
directed petitioner to implead the People of the Philippines as respondent. On 10 March 2003, the CA
dismissed the petition for failure of petitioner to comply with the resolution. On 19 March 2003, petitioner filed
an Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration and Motion to Admit Amended Petition, which the Court of Appeals
dismissed. Hence, this petition.
ISSUE/S
1. Whether or not the CA committed serious and reversible error in dismissing the petition on the ground of a
technicality, despite the petitioner’s compliance with its resolution dated 11 December 2002. -- YES
2. Whether or not the clerical error in the fallo or the dispositive portion of Judge Alumbres’ Order was
substantial in nature. -- NO
RATIO
1. The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for failure of petitioner to comply with the resolution directing him to
implead the People of the Philippines as respondent . The Court of Appeals held that the petition was prosecuted
manifestly for delay, which is a ground for dismissal under Section 8, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

However, Section 6, Rule 1 of the Rules of Court also provides that rules shall be liberally construed in order to
promote their objective of securing a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding. Thus,
in several cases, the Court has ruled against the dismissal of petitions or appeals based solely on technicalities
especially when there was subsequent substantial compliance with the formal requirements. 10

In this case, the Court finds the petitioner’s failure to implead the People of the Philippines as respondent not so grave
as to warrant dismissal of the petition. After all, petitioner rectified his error by moving for reconsideration and filing an
Amended Petition, impleading the People of the Philippines as respondent.

Further, this Court has repeatedly declared that the failure to implead an indispensable party is not a ground
for the dismissal of an action. In such a case, the remedy is to implead the non-party claimed to be
indispensable. Parties may be added by order of the court, on motion of the party or on its own initiative at
any stage of the action and/or such times as are just. If the petitioner/plaintiff refuses to implead an
indispensable party despite the order of the court, the latter may dismiss the complaint/petition for
petitioner’s/plaintiff’s failure to comply.

In this case, the Court of Appeals should have granted petitioner’s motion for reconsideration and given due course to
the petition in view of petitioner’s subsequent compliance by filing an Amended Petition, impleading the People of the
Philippines as respondent. Technicalities may be set aside when the strict and rigid application of the rules will
frustrate rather than promote justice.

2. In the dispositive portion, the trial court erroneously dismissed Criminal Case No. 94-5037 which refers to the
charge for Illegal Possession of Firearms under Presidential Decree No. 1866, while Criminal Case No. 94-5038
which refers to the charge for Homicide was set for further trial.

The general rule is that where there is a conflict between the fallo, or the dispositive part, and the body of the
decision or order, the fallo prevails on the theory that the fallo is the final order and becomes the subject of
execution, while the body of the decision merely contains the reasons or conclusions of the court ordering
nothing. However, where one can clearly and unquestionably conclude from the body of the decision that
there was a mistake in the dispositive portion, the body of the decision will prevail. Thus, in Spouses
Rebuldea v. Intermediate Appellate Court, the Court held that the trial court did not gravely abuse its
discretion when it corrected the dispositive portion of its decision to make it conform to the body of the
decision, and to rectify the clerical errors which interchanged the mortgagors and the mortgagee.

In this case, considering the clear finding of the trial court that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable
doubt the guilt of petitioner in the charges for Homicide and Frustrated Homicide, while the two other charges for
Illegal Possession of Firearms and Violation of the Omnibus Election Code require further evidence, it is only just and
proper to correct the dispositive portion to reflect the exact findings and conclusions of the trial court. Thus, in
accordance with the findings of the trial court, Criminal Case No. 94-5036 (Frustrated Homicide) and Criminal Case
No. 94-5038 (Homicide) should be dismissed, while Criminal Case No. 94-5037 (Illegal Possession of Firearms under
Presidential Decree No. 1866) and Criminal Case No. 24-392 (Violation of Section 261(Q) of the Omnibus Election
Code in relation to Section 32 of Republic Act No. 7166) should be set for further trial.
RULING
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. The Resolutions dated 10 March 2003 and 9 October 2003 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 72315 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The dispositive portion of the Order dated 20
March 2001, of the Regional Trial Court of Las Piñas City, Branch 255, is CORRECTED to conform to the body of the
Order by dismissing Criminal Case No. 94-5036 (Frustrated Homicide) and Criminal Case No. 94-5038 (Homicide),
and setting for further trial Criminal Case No. 94-5037 (Illegal Possession of Firearms under Presidential Decree No.
1866) and Criminal Case No. 24-392 (Violation of Section 261(Q) of the Omnibus Election Code in relation to Section
32 of Republic Act No. 7166).
2S 2016-17 (TAN)

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