You are on page 1of 110


Police Power The distribution of electricity is a basic necessity

that is imbued with public interest. Its provider is
Though it has been held that a nuisance per se may considered as a public utility subject to the strict
be abated via an ordinance, without judicial regulation by the State in the exercise of its police
proceedings, We add that, in the case at bar, power. (Manila Electric Company v. Sps. Ramos, G.R.
petitioners were required to justify their abatement No. 195145, February 10, 2016)
via such an ordinance because the power they
claim to have exercised – the police power under The respondents challenge Section 5 of Ordinance
the general welfare clause – is a power exercised by No. 0309-07 for being unreasonable and oppressive
the government mainly through its legislative, and in that it sets the effectivity of the ban at three
not the executive, branch. The prevailing months after publication of the ordinance. They
jurisprudence is that local government units such allege that three months will be inadequate time to
as the provinces, cities, municipalities and shift from aerial to truck-mounted boom spraying,
barangays exercise police power through their and effectively deprives them of efficient means to
respective legislative bodies. (Metropolitan Manila combat the Black Sigatoka disease… We find for
Development Authority v. Garin, 496 Phil. 82, 92 the respondents. The impossibility of carrying out a
(2005); City of Manila v. Laguio, supra note 38, at 319) shift to another mode of pesticide application
within three months can readily be appreciated
Police power is vested primarily with the national given the vast area of the affected plantations and
legislature, which may delegate the same to local the corresponding resources required therefor. To
governments through the enactment of ordinances recall, even the RTC recognized the impracticality
through their legislative bodies (the sanggunians). of attaining a full-shift to other modes of spraying
(Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, v. Bel- within three months in view of the costly financial
Air Village Association, Inc., 385 Phil. 586, 603 (2000); and civil works required for the conversion.
Gallego v. People, supra note 43; Acebedo Optical (Mosqueda v. Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters
Company Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 385 Phil. 956, 968- Association, Inc., G.R. No. 189185, August 16, 2016)
969 [2000])
The required civil works for the conversion to
Clearly, the complete destruction of the basketball truck-mounted boom spraying alone will consume
ring by the petitioners is justified neither by law or considerable time and financial resources given the
ordinance nor even by equity or necessity, which topography and geographical features of the
makes the act illegal and petitioners liable… Their plantations. As such, the conversion could not be
good intentions do not justify the destruction of completed within the short timeframe of three
private property without a legal warrant, because months. Requiring the respondents and other
the promotion of the general welfare is not affected individuals to comply with the
antithetical to the preservation of the rule of law. consequences of the ban within the three-month
Unlike the examples cited earlier of a mad dog on period under pain of penalty like fine,
the loose, pornography on display or a filthy imprisonment and even cancellation of business
restaurant, which all pose immediate danger to the permits would definitely be oppressive as to
public and, therefore, could be addressed by constitute abuse of police power. (Mosqueda v.
anyone on sight, a basketball ring as a nuisance Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association,
poses no such urgency that could have prevented Inc., G.R. No. 189185, August 16, 2016)
petitioners from exercising any form of deliberation
or circumspection before acting on the same. (Cruz The CA is correct when it applied by analogy the
and De la Cruz v. Pandacan Hikers’ Club, Inc., G.R. case of Carlos Superdrug Corporation et al. v. DSWD,
No. 188213, January 11, 2016) et al. wherein We pronounced that Section 4 of R.A.
No. 9257 which grants 20% discount on the

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
purchase of medicine of senior citizens is a To be considered reasonable, the government's
legitimate exercise of police power… exercise of police power must satisfy the "valid
(Drugstores Association of the Philippines v. National object and valid means" method of analysis: first,
Council on Disability Affairs, G.R. No. 194561, the interest of the public generally, as distinguished
September 14, 2016) from those of a particular class, requires
interference; and second, the means employed are
… the PWD mandatory discount on the purchase reasonably necessary to attain the objective sought
of medicine is supported by a valid objective or and not unduly oppressive upon individuals.
purpose as aforementioned. It has a valid subject These two elements of reasonableness are
considering that the concept of public use is no undeniably present in Section 16 of RA No. 10022.
longer confined to the traditional notion of use by The prohibition against the referral decking system
the public, but held synonymous with public interest, is consistent with the State's exercise of the police
public benefit, public welfare, and public convenience. power to prescribe regulations to promote the
As in the case of senior citizens, the discount health, safety, and general welfare of the people.
privilege to which the PWDs are entitled is actually Public interest demands State interference on
a benefit enjoyed by the general public to which health matters, since the welfare of migrant
these citizens belong. The means employed in workers is a legitimate public concern… While
invoking the active participation of the private Section 16 of RA No. 10022 does not specifically
sector, in order to achieve the purpose or objective define the consequences of violating the
of the law, is reasonably and directly related. Also, prohibition against the referral decking system,
the means employed to provide a fair, just and Republic Act No. 4226 (Hospital Licensure Act),
quality health care to PWDs are reasonably related which governs the licensure and regulation of
to its accomplishment, and are not oppressive, hospitals and health facilities, authorizes the DOH
considering that as a form of reimbursement, the to suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew the license
discount extended to PWDs in the purchase of of hospitals and clinics violating the law. These
medicine can be claimed by the establishments as consequences cannot but apply to the violation of
allowable tax deductions pursuant to Section 32 of the prohibition against the referral decking system
R.A. No. 9442 as implemented in Section 4 of DOF under RA No. 10022. If, under the law, the DOH
Revenue Regulations No. 1-2009. Otherwise stated, can suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew the license
the discount reduces taxable income upon which of these hospitals upon the finding that they
the tax liability of the establishments is computed. violated any provision of law (whether those found
(Drugstores Association of the Philippines v. National in RA No. 4226 or in RA No. 10022), it follows- as a
Council on Disability Affairs, G.R. No. 194561, necessarily included lesser power - that the DOH
September 14, 2016) can likewise order these clinics and their
association to cease and desist from practices that
On March 8, 2001, the DOH issued Administrative the law deems to be undesirable. (Association of
Order No. 5, Series of 2001(AO 5-01) which directed the Medical Clinics for Overseas Workers, Inc. v. GCC
decking or equal distribution of migrant workers among Approved Medical Centers Association, Inc., G.R. No.
the several clinics who are members of GAMCA. 207132, December 6, 2016)
GAMCA asserts that implementing the prohibition
against the referral decking system would amount to an Eminent Domain
undue taking of property xxx. AMCOW responded to
these claims with the argument that the DOH CDO We also find no merit in the DOTC's contention
letters implementing RA No. 10022 are consistent with that the RTC should not have ordered the
the State's exercise of the police power to prescribe reconveyance of the respondent spouses' property
regulations to promote the health, safety, and general because the property is being used for a vital
welfare of the people. governmental function, that is, the operation and
maintenance of a safe and efficient communication
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
system. The exercise of eminent domain requires a still cultivate or make other productive uses of the
genuine necessity to take the property for public areas to be identified as the buffer zones. (Mosqueda
use and the consequent payment of just v. Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association,
compensation. The property is evidently being Inc., G.R. No. 189185, August 16, 2016)
used for a public purpose. However, we also note
that the respondent spouses willingly entered into The Court ruled that, like R.A. No. 4118 in Salas,
a lease agreement with Digitel for the use of the R.A. No. 3120 was intended to implement the social
subject properties. If in the future the factual justice policy of the Constitution and the
circumstances should change and the respondents government's program of land for the landless.
refuse to continue the lease, then the DOTC may Thus, the sale of the subdivided lots to the bona
initiate expropriation proceedings. But as matters fide occupants by authority of Congress was not an
now stand, the respondents are clearly willing to exercise of eminent domain or expropriation
lease the property. Therefore, we find no genuine without just compensation, which would have been
necessity for the DOTC to actually take the in violation of Section 1(2), Article III of the 1935
property at this point. (Department of Transportation Constitution, but simply a manifestation of its right
and Communication v. Sps. Abecina, G.R. No. 206484, and power to deal with State property. "It is
June 29, 2016) established doctrine that the act of classifying State
property calls for the exercise of wide discretionary
On a final note, we point out that the parties legislative power which will not be interfered with
entered into a negotiated sale transaction; thus, the by the courts." In Rabuco, the rule in Salas was
Republic did not acquire the property through reiterated that property of the public domain,
expropriation. In expropriation, the Republic's although titled to the local government, is held by
acquisition of the expropriated property is subject it in trust for the State. (Sangguniang Panlalawigan of
to the condition that the Republic will return the Bataan v. Garcia, G.R. No. 174964, October 5, 2016)
property should the public purpose for which the
expropriation was done did not materialize. On the The power of eminent domain is essentially
other hand, a sale contract between the Republic legislative in nature but may be validly delegated
and private persons is not subject to this same to local government units. The basis for its exercise
condition unless the parties stipulate it. The by the Municipality of Cordova, being a local
respondents in this case failed to prove that the sale government unit, is granted under Section 19 of
was attended by a similar condition. Hence, the Republic Act 7160 xxx. Judicial review of the
parties are bound by their sale contract transferring exercise of the power of eminent domain is limited
the property without the condition applicable in to the following areas of concern: (a) the adequacy
expropriation cases. (Republic v. Roque, G.R. No. of the compensation, (b) the necessity of the taking,
203610, October 10, 2016) and (c) the public use character of the purpose of
The establishment of the buffer zone is required for the taking. Under Rule 67 of the Rules of Court,
the purpose of minimizing the effects of aerial expropriation proceedings are comprised of two
spraying within and near the plantations. Although stages: (1) the determination of the authority of the
Section 3(e) of the ordinance requires the planting plaintiff to exercise the power of eminent domain
of diversified trees within the identified buffer and the propriety of its exercise in the context of
zone, the requirement cannot be construed and the surrounding facts, and (2) the determination of
deemed as confiscatory requiring payment of just the just compensation for the property sought to be
compensation. A landowner may only be entitled taken. The first stage ends, if not in a dismissal of
to compensation if the taking amounts to a the action, with an order of condemnation
permanent denial of all economically beneficial or declaring that the plaintiff has a lawful right to take
productive uses of the land. The respondents the property sought to be condemned, for public
cannot be said to be permanently and completely use or purpose.
deprived of their landholdings because they can
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
Pathfinder and Topanga contend that the trial court NAPOCOR is claiming the exception provided in
issued an Order of Condemnation of the properties Section 4, Rule 67 of the Rules of Court, it has the
without previously conducting a proper hearing burden of proving its claim that its occupancy and use
for the reception of evidence of the parties. was the direct cause of the increase in valuation. The
However, no hearing is actually required for the Spouses Malijan claimed that NAPOCOR has belatedly
issuance of a writ of possession, which demands argued that it entered the property in 1972 and that such
only two requirements: (a) the sufficiency in form fact was not alleged in the complaint.
and substance of the complaint, and (b) the
required provisional deposit. The sufficiency in It is settled that the taking of private property for
form and substance of the complaint for public use, to be compensable, need not be an
expropriation can be determined by the mere actual physical taking or appropriation. Indeed, the
examination of the allegations of the complaint. expropriator's action may be short of acquisition of
Here, there is indeed a necessity for the taking of title, physical possession, or occupancy but may
the subject properties as these would provide still amount to a taking. Compensable taking
access towards the RORO port being constructed in includes destruction, restriction, diminution, or
the municipality. The construction of the new road interruption of the rights of ownership or of the
will highly benefit the public as it will enable common and necessary use and enjoyment of the
shippers and passengers to gain access to the port property in a lawful manner, lessening or
from the main public road or highway. The destroying its value. It is neither necessary that the
requisites for authorizing immediate entry are the owner be wholly deprived of the use of his
filing of a complaint for expropriation sufficient in property, nor material whether the property is
form and substance, and the deposit of the amount removed from the possession of the owner, or in
equivalent to fifteen percent (15%) of the fair any respect changes hands. Thus, there exists no
market value of the property to be expropriated reversible error on the part of the CA when it ruled
based on its current tax declaration. Upon that just compensation must be computed at the
compliance with these requirements, the petitioner time of the taking in 1972. (National Power
in an expropriation case is entitled to a writ of Corporation v. Sps. Malijan, G.R. No. 211731,
possession as a matter of right and the issuance of December 7, 2016)
the writ becomes ministerial. Indubitably, since the
complaint was found to have been sufficient in Section 3(a) of Republic Act No. 6395, as amended,
form and substance and the required deposit had states that only 10% of the market value of the
been duly complied with, the issuance of the writ property is due the owner of the property subject to
had aptly become ministerial on the part of the a right-of-way easement. However, this rule is not
RTC. It cannot be said, therefore, that the RTC binding on the Court. Well-settled is the rule that
committed grave abuse of discretion when it found the determination of just compensation for
the taking of the properties of Topanga and property taken in expropriation is a judicial
Pathfinder proper. (Municipality of Cordova v. prerogative. Such discretion cannot be curtailed by
Pathfinder Development Corporation, G.R. No. 205544, legislation… (National Power Corporation v. Sps.
June 29, 2016) Asoque, G.R. No. 172507, September 14, 2016)

According to NAPOCOR, the taking of the property Does this grant to the DAR of primary jurisdiction
occurred in 1972 whereas the institution of the to determine just compensation limit, or worse,
complaint was made thirty-four (34) years after, hence, deprive, courts of their judicial power? We hold
the just compensation should be based on the value of the that it does not. There is no constitutional
property in 1972. The Spouses Malijan, on the other provision, policy, principle, value or jurisprudence
hand, argued that the above-cited provision merely that places the determination of a justiciable
applies in situations wherein the time of the taking controversy beyond the reach of Congress'
coincides with the filing of the complaint and that since constitutional power to require, through a grant of
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
primary jurisdiction, that a particular controversy 7, 2009. This does not, however, diminish the
be first referred to an expert administrative agency discretionary power of the courts because deviation
for adjudication, subject to subsequent judicial from the strict application of the DAR basic
review. xxx. Unlike EPZA, and in answer to the formula is still allowed upon justifiable grounds
question raised in one of the dissents, the scheme and based on evidence on record. Sec. 17, as
provided by Congress under RA 6657 does not take amended by RA 9700, is clear that the
discretion away from the courts in determining just determination of just compensation shall be
compensation in agrarian cases. Far from it. In fact, "subject to the final decision of the proper court,"
the DAR valuation formula is set up in such a referring to the SACs. (Alfonso v. Land Bank of the
way that its application is dependent on the Philippines, G.R. Nos. 181912 & 183347, November
existence of a certain set of facts, the 29, 2016)
ascertainment of which falls within the discretion
of the court. (Alfonso v. Land Bank of the Philippines, As regards the amount of just compensation,
G.R. Nos. 181912 & 183347, November 29, 2016) factual issues pertaining to the valuation of the
expropriated property are generally beyond the
The clear intention of the lawmakers was then to pale of review under a Rule 45 petition. Factual
grant the courts discretion to determine for itself findings of the trial and appellate courts will not be
the final amount of just compensation, taking into disturbed by this Court unless they are grounded
account the factors enumerated under Sec. 17. As entirely on speculations, surmises, or conjectures,
the lawmakers admitted, the 70% zonal value to be among others, which do not obtain in this case…
included in the valuation is actually an arbitrary The value and character of the land at the time it
figure, which is not a cause for alarm since, in any was taken by government are the criteria for
case, the courts can modify the valuation determining just compensation. "All the facts as to
afterwards, consistent with their best discretion. the condition of the property and its surroundings,
Evidently, the phrase "subject to the final as well as its improvements and capabilities, must
determination of the proper court" is a license for the thus be considered." xxx.
SACs to adjust the valuation by the DAR as they The determination of just compensation being a
deem fit. (Alfonso v. Land Bank of the Philippines, G.R. judicial function, we find no compelling reason to
Nos. 181912 & 183347, November 29, 2016) disturb the valuation set by the Regional Trial
Court and approved by the Court of Appeals. It has
The determination of just compensation is, as it not been sufficiently shown to be grossly exorbitant
always has been, a judicial function. Ergo, if the or otherwise unjustified. (National Power Corporation
parties to the expropriation do not agree on the v. Sps. Asoque, G.R. No. 172507, September 14, 2016)
amount of just compensation, it shall be subject to
the final determination of the courts as provided The Court has repeatedly held that the seizure of
under Sec. 18 of RA 6657 xxx. It is not mandatory landholdings or properties covered by PD 27 did
but discretionary on the SAC to apply the DAR not take place on October 21, 1972, but upon the
formula in determining the amount of just payment of just compensation. Thus, if the
compensation. While the SAC shall consider agrarian reform process is still incomplete, as in
applying the DAR-crafted formula, it may, this case where the just compensation due the
nevertheless, disregard the same with reasons and landowner has yet to be settled, just compensation
proceed with its own determination of just should be determined and the process concluded
compensation and make use of any accepted under RA 6657. (Land Bank of the Philippines v.
valuation method, a variation of the DAR formula, Santos, G.R. No. 213863, January 27, 2016)
or a combination thereof in assigning weights to
the factors enumerated under Sec. 17 of the CARL. Contrary to the LBP's assertion in G.R. No. 213863,
The SACs only became legally bound to apply the nowhere from the said administrative guideline
DAR formula after RA 9700 took effect on August can it be inferred that the submission of the
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
complete documents is a pre-condition for the arrive at such amount. (Vergara v. Melencio, G.R.
release of the initial valuation to a landowner. To No. 185638, August 10, 2016)
hold otherwise would effectively protract payment
of the amount which RA 6657 guarantees to be The issue replicates that which had been resolved
immediately due the landowner even pending the by the Court in National Power Corporation v. Judge
determination of just compensation… (Land Bank of Paderanga. In the said case, the trial court upheld
the Philippines v. Santos, G.R. No. 213863, January the propriety of the order of condemnation of the
27, 2016) property and proceeded to deliberate on the just
compensation due the defendants, notwithstanding
The Court further stated in National Power the failure of one of the defendants to file answer.
Corporation v. Tuazon, that "[t]he determination of The petitioner, however, appealed the amount of
just compensation in expropriation cases is a the just compensation awarded by the trial court
function addressed to the discretion of the courts, but dispensed with the filing of a record on appeal.
and may not be usurped by any other branch or For this reason, the trial court dismissed the
official of the government. This judicial function petitioner’s appeal, holding that the latter did not
has constitutional raison d’être; Article III of the 1987 perfect its appeal due to its failure to file the record
Constitution mandates that no private property on appeal. The CA affirmed the dismissal and this
shall be taken for public use without payment of was upheld by this Court. The Court ruled:
just compensation." Legislative enactments, as
well as executive issuances, fixing or providing for That the defendant Enriquez did not file
the method of computing just compensation are an answer to the complaint did not
tantamount to impermissible encroachment on foreclose the possibility of an appeal
judicial prerogatives. They are not binding on arising therefrom. xxx
courts and, at best, are treated as mere guidelines
In other words, once the compensation
in ascertaining the amount of just compensation.
for Enriquez’ property is placed in issue
This Court, however, is not a trier of facts; and
at the trial, she could, following the
petitions brought under Rule 45 may only raise third paragraph of the immediately-
questions of law. This rule applies in expropriation quoted Section 3 of Rule 67, participate
cases as well… In this case, petitioner has therein and if she is not in conformity
repeatedly imputed error on the part of the RTC with the trial courts determination of
when it pegged the amount of just compensation at the compensation, she can appeal
P3,500.00 per sq. m. after it took into consideration therefrom.
the commissioners’ report. Contrary to petitioner’s
contention, the RTC did not only rely on the Multiple or separate appeals being
potential use of the subject properties. Absent any existent in the present expropriation
showing, however, that there was any serious error case, NPC should have filed a record on
appeal within 30 days from receipt of
on the part of the trial court, its ruling and
the trial court’s decision. The trial
discretion should not be interfered with. (Republic court’s dismissal of its appeal, which
v. C.C. Unson Company, Inc., G.R. No. 215107, was affirmed by the appellate court, was
February 24, 2016) thus in order. (Emphasis, underscoring
and italics in the original)
The determination of just compensation in eminent
domain cases is a judicial function and any The same ratiocination holds with respect to the
valuation for just compensation laid down in the instant case. While Veloso’s co-defendants, the
statutes may serve only as a guiding principle or Heirs of Ebesa, did not file any objection to the
one of the factors in determining just compensation order of condemnation, they may at any time
but it may not substitute the court's own judgment question the award of just compensation that may
as to what amount should be awarded and how to be awarded by the trial court. (National
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
Transmission Corporation v. Heirs of Teodulo Ebesa, was imposed thereon, and that the spouses still
G.R. No. 186102, February 24, 2016) retained title and possession of the property. The
fact that more than half of the property shall be
Besides, the proceedings before the Regional Trial devoted to the bypass road will undoubtedly result
Court were not for expropriation—for which in material impairment of the value of the property.
petitioner itself claims that there is no need—but It reduced the subject property to an area of 138
were for recovery of just compensation and square meters. Thus, the petitioners are liable to
damages initiated by respondents. Hence, Rule 67, pay just compensation over the remaining area of
Section 5 on the ascertainment of the just the subject property, with interest thereon at the
compensation to be paid was no longer applicable. rate of six percent (6%) per annum from the date of
A trial before commissioners, for instance, was writ of possession or the actual taking until full
dispensable. In Republic of the Philippines v. Court of payment is made. (Republic v. Sps. Regulto, G.R. No.
Appeals, the National Irrigation Administration 202051, April 18, 2016)
took possession of the property without the benefit
of expropriation proceedings. The property owner That being said, the Court, in view of the LBP's
subsequently filed a case for recovery of possession alternative Motion for Clarification, illumines that
or its value and damages. This Court held that Rule the interest shall be pegged at the rate of twelve
67 presupposes a prior filing of a complaint by the percent (12%) per annum (p.a.) on the unpaid
expropriator for eminent domain with the balance, reckoned from the time of taking, or the
appropriate court. If no such complaint is filed, the time when the landowner was deprived of the use
expropriator is considered to have violated and benefit of his property, such as when title is
procedural requirements and, hence, waived the transferred to the Republic of the Philippines (Republic),
usual procedure prescribed in Rule 67. This or emancipation patents are issued by the government,
includes the appointment of commissioners to until June 30, 2013, and thereafter, at six percent
ascertain just compensation xxx. We hold that the (6%) p.a. until full payment. However, while the
non-appointment of three (3) Commissioners in the LBP averred that the landowner's title was
court a quo does not render infirm the entire cancelled in favor of the Republic, copies of the
proceedings. Neither do we find improper the trial Republic's title/s was/were not attached to the
court's appointment of the Branch Clerk of Court as records of these consolidated cases. Accordingly,
Commissioner to receive and report on the Court hereby directs the LBP to submit certified
respondents' evidence. The trial court is not bound true copies of the Republic's title/s to the RTC
by the Commissioner's recommended valuation of upon remand of these cases, and the latter to
the property. It still has the discretion on whether compute the correct amount of legal interests due
to adopt the Commissioner's recommendation or to to the Heirs of Alfredo Hababag, Sr. reckoned from
make its own independent valuation as gathered the date of the issuance of the said titles/s. (Land
from the evidence reported by the Commissioner. Bank of the Philippines v. Hababag, G.R. No. 172352,
(National Power Corporation v. Sps. Asoque, G.R. No. June 8, 2016)
172507, September 14, 2016)
1. Just compensation must be valued at the time of
There is "taking," in the context of the State's taking, or the time when the owner was deprived
inherent power of eminent domain, when the of the use and benefit of his property, in this case,
owner is actually deprived or dispossessed of his when emancipation patents were issued in the
property; when there is a practical destruction or names of the farmer-beneficiaries on May 27, 2002.
material impairment of the value of his property or Hence, the evidence to be presented by the parties
when he is deprived of the ordinary use thereof. before the trial court for the valuation of the subject
Using one of these standards, it is apparent that land must be based on the values prevalent on such
there is taking of the remaining area of the property time of taking for like agricultural lands.
of the Spouses Regulto. It is true that no burden
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
2. Just compensation must be arrived at pursuant Petitioner contends that the correct rate for legal
to the guidelines set forth in Section 17 of RA 6657, interest is only 6%, because 1) pursuant to National
as amended, prior to its amendment by RA 9700. Power Corporation v. Angas, the transaction was not
However, the RTC is reminded that while it should a loan or forbearance of money, goods or credit;
take into account the different formula created by and 2) there was no unjustified delay in the
the DAR in arriving at the just compensation for payment of just compensation for the remaining
the subject land, it is not strictly bound thereto if portion of the property. The case invoked by
the situations before it do not warrant their petitioner was overturned in 2002 by Republic v.
application. In any event, should the RTC find the Court of Appeals. In Republic, this Court said that just
said guidelines to be inapplicable, it must clearly compensation amounted to an effective forbearance
explain the reasons for deviating therefrom, and for on the part of the state. Applying Eastern Shipping
using other factors or formula in arriving at the Lines, the Court fixed the applicable interest rate at
reasonable just compensation for the acquired 12% per annum, computed from the time the
property. property was taken until the full amount of just
compensation was paid, in order to eliminate the
3. Interest may be awarded as may be warranted issue of the constant fluctuation and inflation of the
by the circumstances of the case and based on value of the currency over time. Nevertheless, in
prevailing jurisprudence. In previous cases, the line with the recent circular of the Monetary Board
Court has allowed the grant of legal interest in of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP-MB) No.
expropriation cases where there is delay in the 799, Series of 2013, effective 1 July 2013, the
payment since the just compensation due to the prevailing rate of interest for loans or forbearance
landowners was deemed to be an effective of money is six percent (6%) per annum, in the
forbearance on the part of the State. Legal interest absence of an express contract as to such rate of
on the unpaid balance shall be pegged at the rate of interest. (National Power Corporation v. Heirs of
12% p.a. from the time of taking on May 27, 2002 Gregorio Ramoran, G.R. No. 193455, June 13, 2016)
until June 30, 2013 only. Thereafter, or beginning
July 1, 2013, until fully paid, the just compensation Clearly, there was delay because property was
due the landowners shall earn interest at the new taken for public use before compensation was paid
legal rate of 6% p.a. in line with the amendment or deposited with the court. Without prompt
introduced by BSP-MB Circular No. 799, series of payment, compensation cannot be considered
2013. (Land Bank of the Philippines v. Kho, G.R. No. "just," for property owners are made to suffer the
214901, June 15, 2016) consequence of being immediately deprived of
their land, while being made to wait for a decade or
Thus, there was delay in the payment of just more, before actually receiving the amount
compensation which entitles the respondents necessary to cope with their loss. Hence, between
spouses to the payment of interest from the time the taking of the property and the actual payment,
the property was transferred in the name of the legal interests accrue in order to place the owners
government in December 1991 up to the time in a position as good as the position they were in
petitioner deposited the valuation in the account of before the taking occurred… Since it is from this
the respondents-spouses in July 1996. We agree fact that the date of the deprivation of property can
with the CA that petitioner should pay interest for be established, it is only proper that accrual of legal
the delay in the payment of just compensation. interest should begin on that date, not on the date
However, such payment of interest should be of the filing of the Complaint. (National Power
computed up to the full payment of just Corporation v. Heirs of Gregorio Ramoran, G.R. No.
compensation. (Land Bank of the Philippines v. Sps. 193455, June 13, 2016)
Avanceña, G.R. No. 190520, May 30, 2016)
To recapitulate, the formula for determination of
just compensation to landowners does not include
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
the factor for inflation rate, as inflation is properly original 7,759-square-meter property to the 300-
accounted for through payment of interest on the square-meter property belonging to the Spouses
amount due to the landowner, and through the Regulto. There is "taking," in the context of the
award of exemplary damages and attorney's fees in State's inherent power of eminent domain, when
cases where there was irregularity in the taking of the owner is actually deprived or dispossessed of
property. (National Power Corporation v. Manalastas his property; when there is a practical destruction
and Castillo, G.R. No. 196140, January 27, 2016) or material impairment of the value of his property
or when he is deprived of the ordinary use thereof.
Petitioner is liable to pay respondents just Using one of these standards, it is apparent that
compensation and not merely an easement fee on there is taking of the remaining area of the property
the basis that its acquisition of a right-of-way of the Spouses Regulto. It is true that no burden
easement over the portion of respondents' land was was imposed thereon, and that the spouses still
a taking under the power of eminent domain. retained title and possession of the property. The
fact that more than half of the property shall be
While expropriation normally involves a taking of devoted to the bypass road will undoubtedly result
title to and possession of the property, an easement in material impairment of the value of the property.
of right of way on a private property can be It reduced the subject property to an area of 138
considered a taking under eminent domain under square meters. Thus, the petitioners are liable to
certain conditions… A right-of-way easement or pay just compensation over the remaining area of
burden becomes a "taking" under eminent domain the subject property, with interest thereon at the
when there is material impairment of the value of rate of six percent (6%) per annum from the date of
the property or prevention of the ordinary uses of writ of possession or the actual taking until full
the property for an indefinite period. The intrusion payment is made. (Republic v. Sps. Regulto, G.R. No.
into the property must be so immediate and direct 202051, April 18, 2016)
as to subtract from the owner's full enjoyment of
the property and to limit his or her exploitation of Petitioner's reliance on our Third Division's
it… The right-of-way easement resulting in a December 19, 2007 Resolution in the case of Apo
limitation on property rights over the land Fruits Corporation v. CA wherein we declared that
traversed by transmission lines also falls within the the payment of interest for the delay of payment
ambit of the term "expropriation." xxx. Hence, due cannot be applied where there is prompt and valid
to the nature of the easement, which will deprive payment of just compensation as initially
the normal use of the land for an indefinite period determined, even if the amount of just
and expose the property owners' lives and limbs to compensation was later on increased pursuant to
danger, just compensation must be based on the the Court's judgment, is misplaced. We found then
full market value of the affected property. (National that as Land Bank had deposited pertinent
Power Corporation v. Sps. Asoque, G.R. No. 172507, amounts in favor of the landowners within
September 14, 2016) fourteen months after the latter filed their
complaint for determination of just compensation
It is noted that the 162 square meters of the subject with the SAC, there was no unreasonable delay in
property traversed by the bypass road project is the payment of just compensation which entitled
well within the limit provided by the law While the landowners to the payment of 12% interest per
this Court concurs that the petitioners are not annum on the unpaid just compensation.
obliged to pay just compensation in the
enforcement of its easement of right-of-way to However, such resolution was subsequently
lands which originated from public lands granted reversed and set aside in our En Banc Resolution
by free patent, we, however, rule that petitioners dated October 12, 2010 where we granted the
are not free from any liability as to the consequence landowners' motion for reconsideration. We
of enforcing the said right-of-way granted over the ordered the Land Bank to pay the landowners an
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
interest at the rate of 12% per annum on the unpaid amount should be awarded and how to arrive at
balance of the just compensation, computed from such amount. (Vergara v. Melencio, G.R. No. 185638,
the date the Government took the properties on August 10, 2016)
December 9, 1996, until the respondent Land Bank
fully paid the balance of the principal amount on It is noteworthy that the CA, in its Decision dated
May 9, 2008. We ruled that notwithstanding that June 13, 2012, aside from directing the RTC to
the Land Bank had immediately paid the immediately determine the just compensation due
remaining unpaid balance of the just compensation to the Spouses Malijan based on the fair market
as finally determined by the court, however, 12 value of the subject property at the time of the
long years had passed before the landowners were taking in 1972, it also imposed the payment of a
fully paid. Thus, the landowners were entitled to legal interest at the rate of six percent (6%) per
legal interest from the time of the taking of the annum from the time of the taking until full
property until the actual payment in order to place payment is made. This is in accordance with this
the owner in a position as good as, but not better Court's ruling in Secretary of the Department of
than, the position he was in before the taking Public Works and highways, et al. v. Spouses Heracleo
occurred. The imposition of such interest was to and Ramona Tecson which discussed the proper rate
compensate the landowners for the income they of interest to be applied in similar cases xxx.
would have made had they been properly (National Power Corporation v. Sps. Malijan, G.R. No.
compensated for their properties at the time of the 211731, December 7, 2016)
taking. (Land Bank of the Philippines v. Sps. Avanceña,
G.R. No. 190520, May 30, 2016) In all of the foregoing rulings of the Court as well
The undue delay of the petitioners to pay the just as in subsequent ones, it could not have been
compensation brought about the basis for the grant overemphasized that the determination of just
of interest… Based on a judicious review of the compensation in eminent domain is a judicial
records and application of jurisprudential rulings, function. However, the more recent jurisprudence
legal interest shall be pegged at the rate of twelve uphold the pre-eminence of the pronouncement in
percent (12%) per annum, reckoned from the time of Philippine Veterans Bank to the effect that the parties
the filing of the complaint for expropriation, which only have 15 days from their receipt of the
in this case is on December 29, 2005, the date when decision/order of the DAR within which to invoke
the respondents filed a petition for mandamus to the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the SAC;
compel the petitioners to comply with the MOA. otherwise, the decision/order attains finality and
Thereafter, or beginning July 1, 2013, until fully immutability.
paid, just compensation shall earn interest at the
new legal rate of six percent (6%) per annum, It remains uncontested that the petitioner filed her
conformably with the modification on the rules complaint in the RTC for the determination of just
respecting interest rates introduced by the Bangko compensation after more than two and a half
Sentral ng Pilipinas Monetary Board Circular No. months had already elapsed from the time the
799, Series of 2013. To clarify, this incremental DARAB issued the assailed valuation. Following
interest is not granted on the computed just the pronouncement in Philippine Veterans Banks, her
compensation; rather, it is a penalty imposed for failure to file the complaint within the prescribed
damages incurred by the landowner due to the 15-day period from notice would have surely
delay in its payment. The determination of just rendered the DARAB's valuation order final and
compensation in eminent domain cases is a judicial executory. As such, it would seem that there was
function and any valuation for just compensation sufficient ground for the dismissal of the
laid down in the statutes may serve only as a petitioner's complaint for having been filed out of
guiding principle or one of the factors in time.
determining just compensation but it may not
substitute the court's own judgment as to what However, we cannot fairly and properly hold that
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
the petitioner's complaint for the determination of
just compensation should be barred from being The alleged encumbrance in the respondents' title
tried and decided on that basis. The prevailing rule and the interpretation and application of Section
at the time she filed her complaint on August 19, 50of P.D. No. 1529 are no longer novel since this
1999 was that enunciated in Republic v. Court of Court had already made a definitive ruling on the
Appeals on October 30, 1996. The pronouncement in matter in the case of Republic of the Philippines v.
Philippine Veterans Bank was promulgated on Ortigas and Company Limited Partnership, where the
January 18, 2000 when the trial was already in Court ruled that therein petitioners' reliance on
progress in the RTC, At any rate, it would only be Section 50 of P.D. No. 1529 is erroneous since it
eight years afterwards that the Court en banc contemplates roads and streets in a subdivided
unanimously resolved the jurisprudential property, not public thoroughfares built on a
conundrum through its declaration in Land Bank v. private property that was taken from an owner for
Martinez that the better rule was that enunciated in public purpose. A public thoroughfare is not a
Philippine Veterans Bank, The Court must, therefore, subdivision road or street. xxx. Apparently, the
prospectively apply Philippine Veterans Bank. The subject land is within the commerce of man and is
effect is that the petitioner's cause of action for the therefore a proper subject of an expropriation
proper valuation of her expropriated property proceeding. Pursuant to this, the MOA between the
should be allowed to proceed. Hence, her petitioners and the respondents is valid and
complaint to recover just compensation was binding. (Vergara v. Melencio, G.R. No. 185638,
properly brought in the RTC as the SAC, whose August 10, 2016)
dismissal of it upon the motion of Land Bank
should be undone. (Limkaichong v. Land Bank of the Undisputedly, in this case, the purpose of the
Philippines, G.R. No. 158464, August 2, 2016) condemnation is public but there was no payment
of just compensation to the respondents. The
In this case, the motion for execution pending petitioners should have first instituted eminent
appeal was filed by respondents seven days after domain proceedings and deposit with the
their receipt of the trial court's order denying the authorized government depositary an amount
motions for reconsideration filed by both parties. equivalent to the assessed value of the subject land
Clearly, respondents filed the motion for execution before it occupied the same. Due to the petitioners'
pending appeal before the lapse of the period to file omission, the respondents were constrained to file
an appeal, which is fifteen days from notice of the inverse condemnation proceedings to demand the
order denying the motion for reconsideration. payment of just compensation before the trial court.
Therefore, the trial court still had jurisdiction when From 1989 until the present, the respondents were
respondents filed their motion for execution deprived of just compensation, while the
pending appeal. xxx. While the trial court still had petitioners continuously burdened their property.
jurisdiction when it issued the order granting (Vergara v. Melencio, G.R. No. 185638, August 10,
execution pending appeal, the Court holds that 2016)
discretionary execution does not apply to eminent
domain proceedings. In Spouses Curata v. Philippine In sum, the respondents have waited too long
Ports Authority where movants alleged advanced before the petitioners fully pay the amount of the
age as ground for their motion for discretionary just compensation due them. Since the trial court
execution, the Court found the trial court to have had already made the proper determination of the
committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the amount of just compensation in accordance with
order granting execution pending appeal. The law and to forestall any further delay in the
Court held that discretionary execution is not resolution of this case, it is but proper to order the
applicable to expropriation proceedings xxx. petitioners to pay in full the amount of
(National Power Corporation v. Heirs of Antonina P17,028,900.00 representing the just compensation
Rabie, G.R. No. 210218, August 17, 2016) of the subject land. Furthermore, the respondents
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
are entitled to an additional grant of interest, case, no evidence were presented to prove that
exemplary damages and attorney's fees. In subsequent payment for the lots was made based
accordance with existing jurisprudence, the award on the adjusted rate of P1.50 per square meter.
of exemplary damages in the amount of Thus, considering MCIAA's failure to prove
P200,000.00 is proper, as well as attorney's fees payment either by documentary of testimonial
equivalent to one percent (1%) of the total amount evidence, it can be logically surmised that there
due. (Vergara v. Melencio, G.R. No. 185638, August was indeed no actual payment of just
10, 2016) compensation. (Republic v. Limbonhai and Sons, G.R.
No. 217956, November 16, 2016)
Clearly, the ATO occupied and possessed the
subject property from 1985 up to present without Corollarily, based on the foregoing, the
first undertaking the process of expropriating the government's inaction in paying the just
same or entering into a similar agreement with its compensation for the property for more than 30
rightful owners… In the instant case, it had been years is fatal to their cause of action as laches has
more or less thirty-one (31) years since the ATO indeed already set in… Thus, MCIAA's neglect or
occupied and possessed the subject property omission to assert a supposed right for more than
without first expropriating the same. Jizmundo and thirty (30) years is too long a time as to warrant the
his co heirs Were well aware of this fact for, as the presumption that it had abandoned such right to
courts a quo found, it is the nonpayment of the expropriate the subject property. No evidence was
value of the subject property that caused them to presented to show that MCIAA ever took any
file ejectment proceedings… As things now stand, action, administrative or judicial, nor did it
the property still forms part of the Kalibo, Aldan question or protest the corporation's occupation of
Domestic and International Airport… Under the the subject lot until its filing of the complaint in
circumstances, an action for ejectment would not be 1996, or more than 30 years. There was no evidence
proper. Verily, it is not farfetched to presume that to show that MCIAA had even apprised defendant
the grant of the unlawful detainer case against the of its right and of its intention to assert it. The
CAAP and the transfer of the possession of the application of laches is addressed to the sound
subject property in favor of Jizmundo would result discretion of the court as its application is
in the interruption of the services provided by the controlled by equitable considerations. In the
CAAP and would lead to the inconvenience of the instant case, with the foregoing considerations, it is
passengers and personnel that makes use of the but just for MCIAA to face the consequence of its
said airport. In accordance with Forfom, the negligence or passivity after it had slept on its
recovery of possession of Jizmundo can no longer rights for more than 30 years. Clearly, the inaction
be allowed so as not to hamper the said airport's of MCIAA for over 30 years has reduced its right to
services to the public. The remedy left to Jizmundo regain possession of the subject property to a stale
and his co-heirs is the right to be compensated the demand. Indeed, the law helps the vigilant but not
reasonable value of the subject property, which the those who sleep on their rights. For time is a means
CAAP admittedly still uses for what it deems to be of destroying obligations and actions, because time
a vital public purpose. The CAAP must now runs against the slothful and contemners of their
institute the required action for expropriation over own rights. (Republic v. Limbonhai and Sons, G.R.
the subject property for the proper determination No. 217956, November 16, 2016)
of the just compensation due to the owners thereof.
(Malonecio v. Jizmundo, G.R. No. 199239, August 24, Power of Taxation
In light of Pelizloy Realty, a golf course cannot be
Even assuming arguendo that the government considered a place of amusement. As petitioner
deposited the amount of P32,869.17 as partial asserted, people do not enter a golf course to see or
payment for the 27 lots subject of the expropriation view a show or performance. Petitioner also, as
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
proprietor or operator of the golf course, does not hearing conducted for the purpose.
actively display, stage, or present a show or (Emphasis supplied.)
performance. People go to a golf course to engage
themselves in a physical sport activity, i.e., to play Respondents, however, cannot claim that Section
golf; the same reason why people go to a gym or 42 of the Revised Omnibus Tax Ordinance, as
court to play badminton or tennis or to a shooting amended, imposing amusement tax on golf
range for target practice, yet there is no showing courses, was enacted pursuant to the residual
herein that such gym, court, or shooting range is power to tax of respondent Cebu City. A local
similarly considered an amusement place subject to government unit may exercise its residual power to
amusement tax. There is no basis for singling out tax when there is neither a grant nor a prohibition
golf courses for amusement tax purposes from by statute; or when such taxes, fees, or charges are
other places where people go to play sports. This is not otherwise specifically enumerated in the Local
in contravention of one of the fundamental Government Code, National Internal Revenue
principles of local taxation: that the "[t]axation shall Code, as amended, or other applicable laws. In the
be uniform in each local government unit." present case, Section 140, in relation to Section 131
Uniformity of taxation, like the kindred concept of (c), of the Local Government Code already
equal protection, requires that all subjects or objects explicitly and clearly cover amusement tax and
of taxation, similarly situated, are to be treated respondent Cebu City must exercise its authority to
alike both in privileges and liabilities. (Alta Vista impose amusement tax within the limitations and
Golf and Country Club v. City of Cebu, G.R. No. guidelines as set forth in said statutory provisions.
180235, January 20, 2016) (Alta Vista Golf and Country Club v. City of Cebu,
G.R. No. 180235, January 20, 2016)
Not lost on the Court is its declaration in Manila
Electric Co. v. Province of Laguna (366 Phil. 428, 434 And as far as local government units are
[1999]) that under the 1987 Constitution, "where concerned, the areas described above are to be
there is neither a grant nor a prohibition by statute, considered subsumed under the term "municipal
the tax power [of local government units] must be waters" which, under the Local Government Code,
deemed to exist although Congress may provide includes "not only streams, lakes, and tidal waters
statutory limitations and guidelines." Section 186 of within the municipality, not being the subject of
the Local Government Code also expressly grants private ownership and not comprised within the
local government units the following residual national parks, public forest, timber lands, forest
power to tax: reserves or fishery reserves, but also marine waters
included between two lines drawn perpendicularly
Sec. 186. Power to Levy Other Taxes; Fees, to the general coastline from points where the
or Charges. – Local government units boundary lines of the municipality or city touch the
may exercise the power to levy taxes, sea at low tide and a third line parallel with the
fees, or charges on any base or subject general coastline and fifteen (15) kilometers from
not otherwise specifically enumerated it." Although the term "municipal waters" appears
herein or taxed under the provisions of
in the Code in the context of the grant of quarrying
the National Internal Revenue Code, as
amended, or other applicable laws: and fisheries privileges for a fee by local
Provided, that the taxes, fees, or charges governments, its inclusion in the Code's Book II
shall not be unjust, excessive, which covers local taxation means that it may also
oppressive, confiscatory or contrary to apply as guide in determining the territorial extent
declared national policy: Provided, of the local authorities' power to levy real property
further, That the ordinance levying such taxation. Thus, the jurisdiction or authority over
taxes, fees or charges shall not be such part of the subject submarine cable system
enacted without any prior public lying within Philippine jurisdiction includes the
authority to tax the same, for taxation is one of the
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
three basic and necessary attributes of sovereignty, Legitimate enterprises enjoy the
and such authority has been delegated by the constitutional protection not to be taxed
national legislature to the local governments with out of existence. Incurring losses
respect to real property taxation. (Capitol Wireless, because of a tax imposition may be an
acceptable consequence but killing the
Inc. v. The Provincial Treasurer of Batangas, G.R. No.
business of an entity is another matter
180110, May 30, 2016) and should not be allowed. It is counter-
productive and ultimately subversive of
At this juncture, it becomes imperative to reiterate the nation's thrust towards a better
the principle that the power to tax is not the power economy which will ultimately benefit
to destroy. In Philippine Health Care Providers, Inc. v. the majority of our people.
Commissioner of Internal Revenue, the Court has
stressed that: Moreover, Section 11 of R.A. 1125, as amended,
indicates that the requirement of the bond as a
As a general rule, the power to tax is an condition precedent to suspension of the collection
incident of sovereignty and is unlimited applies only in cases where the processes by which
in its range, acknowledging in its very the collection sought to be made by means thereof
nature no limits, so that security against are carried out in consonance with the law, not
its abuse is to be found only in the when the processes are in plain violation of the law
responsibility of the legislature which
that they have to be suspended for jeopardizing the
imposes the tax on the constituency who
is to pay it. So potent indeed is the
interests of the taxpayer. (Tridharma Marketing
power that it was once opined that the Corporation v. Court of Tax Appeals, G.R. No. 215950,
power to tax involves the power to June 20, 2016)
Due Process
Petitioner claims that the assessed DST
to date which amounts to P376 million Given how the evidence against him came out, we
is way beyond its net worth of P259
find that Magcamit could not have adequately and
million. Respondent never disputed
fully disputed the allegations against him since
these assertions. Given the realities on
the ground, imposing the DST on during the administrative investigation he was not
petitioner would be highly oppressive. properly apprised of all the evidence against him…
It is not the purpose of the government Thus, the requirement that "[t]he decision must be
to throttle private business. On the rendered on the evidence presented at the hearing,
contrary, the government ought to or at least contained in the record AND disclosed
encourage private enterprise. Petitioner, to the parties affected," was not complied with.
just like any concern organized for a Magcamit was not properly apprised of the
lawful economic activity, has a right to evidence presented against him, which evidence
maintain a legitimate business. As aptly
were eventually made the bases of the decision
held in Roxas, et al. v. CTA, et al.:
finding him guilty of grave misconduct and
The power of taxation is sometimes recommending his dismissal. Although, in the past,
called also the power to destroy. we have held that the right to due process of a
Therefore it should be exercised with respondent in an administrative case is not violated
caution to minimize injury to the if he filed a motion for reconsideration to refute the
proprietary rights of a taxpayer. It must evidence against him, the present case should be
be exercised fairly, equally and carefully examined for purposes of the application
uniformly, lest the tax collector "kill the of this rule. Here, the evidence of Magcamit’s
hen that lays the golden egg." participation was made available to him only after
he had elevated the case to the CSC. Prior to that,
or when the IAS-PDEA came up with the decision
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
finding him guilty of gross misconduct, there was Granting arguendo that the labor contract expressly
no substantial evidence proving Magcamit was stipulated the applicability of Canadian law, still,
even involved. (Magcamit v. Internal Affairs Service– Arriola's employment cannot be governed by such
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, G.R. No. foreign law because the third requisite is not
198140, January 25, 2016) satisfied. A perusal of the ESA will show that some
of its provisions are contrary to the Constitution
It must be stressed that "[t]he essence of due and the labor laws of the Philippines. xxx. The
process is the opportunity to be heard, logically provisions of the ESA are patently inconsistent
preconditioned on prior notice, before judgment is with the right to security of tenure. Both the
rendered." xxx. "Even the Republic as a litigant is Constitution and the Labor Code provide that this
entitled to this constitutional right, in the same right is available to any employee. In a host of
manner and to the same extent that this right is cases, the Court has upheld the employee's right to
guaranteed to private litigants. (Republic v. Court of security of tenure in the face of oppressive
Appeals, G.R. No. 210233, February 15, 2016) management behavior and management
prerogative. Security of tenure is a right which
Verily, it is a settled rule that a court cannot grant a cannot be denied on mere speculation of any
relief not prayed for in the pleadings or in excess of unclear and nebulous basis. Not only do these
that being sought. (Philippine Air Lines v. PAL provisions collide with the right to security of
Employees Savings and Loan Association, G.R. No. tenure, but they also deprive the employee of his
201073, February 10, 2016) constitutional right to due process by denying him
of any notice of termination and the opportunity to
As long as parties are afforded these opportunities, be heard. Glaringly, these disadvantageous
the requirement of due process in administrative provisions under the ESA produce the same evils
proceedings is sufficiently met. As evidenced by which the Court vigorously sought to prevent in
the pleadings filed during the administrative the cases of Pakistan International and Sameer
proceeding, and their subsequent appeal to the Overseas. Thus, the Court concurs with the CA that
Court of Appeals and now to this Court, they have the ESA is not applicable in this case as it is against
been afforded the fullest opportunity to establish our fundamental and statutory laws. (Industrial
their claims and to seek a reconsideration of the Personnel and Management Services, Inc. v. de Vera,
ruling complained of. Moreover, a reading of the G.R. No. 205703, March 7, 2016)
decisions of the Court of Appeals and the OP
shows that the evidence petitioners presented had In administrative proceedings, the filing of charges
been duly considered. Indeed, aside from their and giving reasonable opportunity to the person
general allegation that the Court of Appeals did not charged to answer the accusations against him
consider their evidence, petitioners failed to constitute the minimum requirements of due
identify any conclusion arrived at by the Court of process… the CA concluded that AIMS was given
Appeals or the OP that was not supported by the opportunity to be heard and to present its side but
evidence on record. Moreover, both the Court of it failed to make use of the said opportunity. The
Appeals and the OP addressed the issues raised by Court does not agree. In concluding that, through
the parties, and subsequently cited the proper Lugatiman, AIMS was "obviously informed of the
evidence on record and quoted the applicable laws charges" during the preliminary hearing, the CA
and jurisprudence to support their findings. The overlooked the crucial fact that, as the POEA itself
bare allegation that they were denied due process admitted, it did not furnish AIMS with a copy of its
cannot overcome the clear fact that they were given Surveillance Report dated February 21, 2007, which
every opportunity to establish their claims. contains the factual allegations of
(Agustin-Se v. Office of the President, G.R. No. misrepresentation supposedly committed by AIMS.
207355, February 3, 2016) It is incomprehensible why the POEA would
neglect to furnish AIMS with a copy of the said
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
report, since other than the fact that AIMS was litigated in a separate civil action. xxx. In a
represented at the hearing on May 9, 2007, there is situation where a court (in a fused action for the
no showing that Lugatiman was apprised of the enforcement of criminal and civil liability) may
contents thereof. In fact, as AIMS now claims, the validly order an accused-respondent to pay an
alleged recruitment flyer distributed to its obligation arising from a contract, a person’s right
applicants was not even presented. Since AIMS to be notified of the complaint, and the right to
was provided with only the Surveillance Report have the complaint dismissed if there is no cause of
dated November 8, 2006, it could only have been action, are completely defeated. In this event, the
expected to respond to the charge contained in the accused-respondent is completely unaware of the
Show Cause Order. Thus, in its answer, it needed nature of the liability claimed against him or her at
only to point to the POEA operatives' own the onset of the case. The accused-respondent will
admission in their Surveillance Report dated not have read any complaint stating the cause of
November 8, 2006 that when they came posing as action of an obligation arising from a contract. All
job applicants, the staff of AIMS advised them that throughout the trial, the accused-respondent is
it had no job vacancies for waiters and that its made to believe that should there be any civil
license had been cancelled. As POEA now also liability awarded against him or her, this liability is
admits, AIMS 's license to recruit was restored on rooted from the act or omission constituting the
December 6, 2006. (Asian International Manpower crime. The accused-respondent is also deprived of
Services, Inc. v. Department of Labor and Employment, the remedy of having the complaint dismissed
G.R. No. 210308, April 6, 2016) through a motion to dismiss before trial. In a fused
action, the accused-respondent could not have
As a general rule, points of law, theories, and availed of this remedy because he or she was not
arguments not brought before the trial court cannot even given an opportunity to ascertain what cause
be raised for the first time on appeal and will not be of action to look for in the initiatory pleading. In
considered by this Court; otherwise, a denial of the such a case, the accused-respondent is blindsided.
respondent's right to due process will result. In the He or she could not even have prepared the
interest of justice, however, the Court may consider appropriate defenses and evidence to protect his or
and resolve issues not raised before the trial court if her interest. This is not the concept of fair play
it is necessary for the complete adjudication of the embodied in the Due Process Clause. It is a clear
rights and obligations of the parties, and it falls violation of a person’s right to due process. (Dy v.
within the issues found by the parties. (Figuera v. People, G.R. No. 189081, August 10, 2016)
Ang, G.R. No. 204264, June 29, 2016)
Substantive due process requires that a valid
While we have ruled in the past that the filing of a ordinance must have a sufficient justification for
motion for reconsideration cures the defect in the Government's action. This means that in
procedural due process because the process of exercising police power the local government unit
reconsideration is itself an opportunity to be heard, must not arbitrarily, whimsically or despotically
this ruling does not embody an absolute rule that enact the ordinance regardless of its salutary
applies in all circumstances. The mere filing of a purpose. So long as the ordinance realistically
motion for reconsideration cannot cure the due process serves a legitimate public purpose, and it employs
defect, especially if the motion was filed precisely to raise means that are reasonably necessary to achieve that
the issue of violation of the right to due process and the purpose without unduly oppressing the
lack of opportunity to be heard on the merits remained. individuals regulated, the ordinance must survive
(Fontanilla v. Commission Proper, Commission on a due process challenge.
Audit, G.R. No. 209714, June 21, 2016)
The respondents challenge Section 5 of Ordinance
The Due Process Clause of the Constitution dictates No. 0309-07 for being unreasonable and oppressive
that a civil liability arising from a contract must be in that it sets the effectivity of the ban at three
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
months after publication of the ordinance. They a hearing on the applications and oppositions
allege that three months will be inadequate time to submitted. xxx. Rather than provide concrete
shift from aerial to truck-mounted boom spraying, evidence to meet the petitioners' opposition, the
and effectively deprives them of efficient means to respondents simply relied on their challenge
combat the Black Sigatoka disease. The petitioners questioning the propriety of the subject petition on
counter that the period is justified considering the technical and procedural grounds. xxx. Due to the
urgency of protecting the health of the residents. failure of the respondents to observe and comply
We find for the respondents. The impossibility of with the basic requirements of due process, the
carrying out a shift to another mode of pesticide Court is of the view that the certifications/re-
application within three months can readily be certifications and the distribution of the questioned
appreciated given the vast area of the affected contraceptive drugs by the respondents should be
plantations and the corresponding resources struck down as violative of the constitutional
required therefor. To recall, even the RTC right to due process. Verily, it is a cardinal precept
recognized the impracticality of attaining a full- that where there is a violation of basic
shift to other modes of spraying within three constitutional rights, the courts are ousted from
months in view of the costly financial and civil their jurisdiction. The violation of a party's right to
works required for the conversion. (Mosqueda v. due process raises a serious jurisdictional issue
Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, which cannot be glossed over or disregarded at
Inc., G.R. No. 189185, August 16, 2016) will. Where the denial of the fundamental right to
due process is apparent, a decision rendered in
Substantive due process refers to the intrinsic disregard of that right is void for lack of
validity of a law that interferes with the rights of a jurisdiction. This rule is equally true in quasi-
person to his property. Procedural due process, on judicial and administrative proceedings, for the
the other hand, means compliance with the constitutional guarantee that no man shall be
procedures or steps, even periods, prescribed by deprived of life, liberty, or property without due
the statute, in conformity with the standard of fair process is unqualified by the type of proceedings
play and without arbitrariness on the part of those (whether judicial or administrative) where he
who are called upon to administer it. stands to lose the same. (Alliance for the Family
Although administrative procedural rules are less Foundation Philippines, Inc. v. Garin, G.R. No.
stringent and often applied more liberally, 217872, August 24, 2016)
administrative proceedings are not exempt from
basic and fundamental procedural principles, such Firstly of all, the petitioner contends that the right
as the right to due process in investigations and to due process in administrative proceedings
hearings. (Alliance for the Family Foundation should include the right to confront his accusers;
Philippines, Inc. v. Garin, G.R. No. 217872, August that he invoked his right to confrontation and
24, 2016) sought a formal hearing through his motion for
reconsideration in the OP; and that the violation of
After an assessment of the undisputed facts, the his rights rendered any evidence presented against
Court finds that the FDA certified, procured and him inadmissible. We cannot uphold the
administered such contraceptive drugs and contention of the petitioner. As the CA correctly
devices, without the observance of the basic tenets pointed out, administrative due process
of due process, without notice and without public simply means the opportunity to be heard or to
hearing, despite the constant opposition from the explain one's side, or to seek a reconsideration of
petitioners. From the records, it appears that other the action or ruling complained of For him to insist
than the notice inviting stakeholders to apply for on a formal trial-type hearing in which he could
certification/re-certification of their reproductive confront his accusers was bereft of legal basis
health products, there was no showing that the considering that he had been duly notified of the
respondents notified the oppositors and conducted complaint against him and of the formal hearings
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
conducted by the PAGC. He had also filed his
answer to the complaint and participated in the Here, a perusal of the records showed that, indeed,
formal hearings. For sure, the trial- type hearing Cabral's right to due process was violated since she
was not indispensable in administrative never knew about the coverage of Lot 4 under the
cases. The requirements of administrative due OLT program. (Cabral v. Adolfo, G.R. No. 198160,
process were satisfied once the parties were August 31, 2016)
afforded the fair and reasonable opportunity to
explain their respective sides. The administrative Petitioner's counsel received the Regional Trial
agency could resolve the issues based solely on Court Order resetting the pre-trial to May 24, 2000
position on May 22, 2000. Assuming its counsel was unable
papers, affidavits or documentary evidence submitt to appear at the second pre-trial setting, petitioner
ed by the parties. Secondly, it is notable that the could and should have sent a representative on
petitioner did not raise in his answer to the May 24, 2000 to ask for postponement of the second
complaint the absolute pardon purportedly pre-trial setting. During the second pre-trial setting,
granted to him by President Aquino; that he did it was not only petitioner's counsel who failed to
not also submit proof on the absolute pardon in the appear, but petitioner as well. Under the
hearings held before the PAGC; that he did not file circumstances, petitioner cannot claim that it was
his memorandum or position paper despite being denied due process… (p)etitioner in this case was
ordered to do so; and that he did not advert to the not deprived of its day in court. Petitioner was able
absolute pardon when the case had been elevated to file a Motion for Reconsideration, participate in
to the OP. Being the part plainly at fault, his further proceedings, and was allowed to submit its
unexplained failure to submit his evidence could objections to respondents' evidence and to the
not counted against the PAGC. (Mateo v. Executive Commissioner's recommendation before the trial
Secretary, G.R. No. 177875, August 8, 2016) court rendered judgment. It must, therefore, bear
the consequences of its lapses. (National Power
Otherwise stated, the death of the respondent in an Corporation v. Sps. Asoque, G.R. No. 172507,
administrative case precludes the finding of September 14, 2016)
administrative liability when: a) due process may
be subverted; b) on equitable and humanitarian Corporate persons, needless to stress, are entitled
reasons; and c) the penalty imposed would render to the due process protection. xxx. As it were, SMC
the proceedings useless. The Court finds that the was never made a party to CC No. 0033-F filed by
first exception applies. respondent Republic to recover the SMC shares of
stock registered in the name of the CIIF Holding
Here, the case was pending appeal with the CA Companies. It was not given a chance to justify, let
when the respondent passed away. The CA was alone ventilate, its claim ever the 25.45 million
duty bound to render a ruling on the issue of shares it has in its possession even when it had
whether or not the respondent was indeed volunteered to participate and moved to intervene
administratively liable of the alleged infraction. in the said case, as will be expounded below.
However, in its decision, the CA found that the Certainly, SMC cannot, under the premises, be
respondent was deprived of her right to due considered as such judgment obligor in CC 0033-F
process… After a careful review, the Court agrees as it was not impleaded by respondent Republic as
with the conclusion of the CA… Since the case a party despite the clear mandate of the Rules of
against the respondent was dismissed by the CA on Court that "parties in interest without whom no
the lack of due process, the Court finds it proper to final determination can be had of an action shall be
dismiss the present administrative case against the joined as plaintiffs or defendants." (Philippine
deceased under the circumstances since she can no Coconut Producers Federation, Inc. v. Republic, G.R.
longer defend herself. (Civil Service Commission v. Nos. 177857-58, October 5, 2016)
Juen, G.R. No. 200577, August 17, 2016)
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
Respondent's lease agreement with MERALCO 160 and 160-A were not followed. Confronted with
Financing Services Corporation and its having acts seemingly tantamount to deprivation of
secured permits from local government units, for property without due process of law, the Regional
the specific purpose of putting up advertising Trial Court acted well within its competence when
banners and signages, gave it the right to put up it required petitioners to temporarily desist,
such banners and signages. Respondent had in its pending a more complete and circumspect
favor a property right, of which it cannot be estimation of the parties' rights. (Department of
deprived without due process. This is respondent's Public Works and Highways v. City Advertising
right in esse, that is, an actual right. It is not merely Ventures Corporation, G.R. No. 182944, November 9,
a right in posse, or a potential right. (Department of 2016)
Public Works and Highways v. City Advertising
Ventures Corporation, G.R. No. 182944, November 9, Succinctly, Section 11 of the AMLA providing for
2016) ex-parte application and inquiry by the AMLC into
certain bank deposits and investments does not
Republic Act No. 8975 was enacted to "ensure the violate substantive due process, there being no
expeditious and efficient implementation and physical seizure of property involved at that stage.
completion of government infrastructure projects," It is the preliminary and actual seizure of the bank
specifically for the purposes of "avoid[ing] deposits or investments in question which brings
unnecessary increase in construction, maintenance these within reach of the judicial process,
and/or repair costs and to immediately enjoy the specifically a determination that the seizure
social and economic benefits therefrom." Its scope violated due process. (Subido, Pagente, Certeza,
and aims are clear. Mendoza and Binay Law Offices v. The Court of
Appeals, G.R. No. 216914, December 6, 2016)
Removing or dismantling billboards, banners, and
signages cannot qualify as acts relating to the Plainly, the AMLC's investigation of money
implementation and completion of "government laundering offenses and its determination of
infrastructure projects," or of "national government possible money laundering offenses, specifically its
projects" within the contemplation of Republic Act inquiry into certain bank accounts allowed by court
No. 8975. They do not involve the construction, order, does not transform it into an investigative
operation, maintenance, repair, or rehabilitation of body exercising quasi-judicial powers. Hence,
structures for public use. Neither do they involve Section 11 of the AMLA, authorizing a bank
the acquisition, supply, or installation of equipment inquiry court order, cannot be said to violate
and materials relating to such structures; nor the SPCMB's constitutional right to procedural due
reduction of costs or the facilitation of public process. (Subido, Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza and Binay
utility. What they entail are preventive and even Law Offices v. The Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 216914,
confiscatory mechanisms. Moreover, while it is also December 6, 2016)
true that public taking may be a prelude to the
completion of facilities for public use (e.g., To consider a party’s evidence which was not
expropriation for infrastructure projects), formally offered during trial would deprive the
petitioners' removal and confiscation here do not other party of due process. Evidence not formally
serve that specific end. Rather, they serve the offered has no probative value and must be
overarching interest of public safety. excluded by the court. (See Spouses Ong v. Court of
Appeals, 361 Phil. 338, 350–352 (1999) [Per J.
Petitioners prevented and threatened to prevent Panganiban, Third Division]. See also Westmont
respondent from engaging in its cardinal business Investment Corporation v. Francia, Jr., et al., 678 Phil.
activity. Their admitted actions and apparent 180, 194 (2011) [Per J. Mendoza, Third Division].
inactions show that the well-defined due process We recall, however, that admissibility of evidence
mechanisms outlined by Administrative Order No. is a different concept from probative value under
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
evidentiary rules. See Atienza v. Board of Medicine, et the undefined law of necessity; or, (b) a nuisance
al., 657 Phil. 536, 543 (2011) [Per J. Nachura, Second per accidens, which "depends upon certain
Division], citing PNOC Shipping and Transport conditions and circumstances, and its existence
Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 358 Phil. 38, 59 (1998) being a question of fact, it cannot be abated without
[Per J. Romero, Third Division], cited in Republic v. due hearing thereon in a tribunal authorized to
Gimenez, G.R. No. 174673, January 11, 2016) decide whether such a thing does in law constitute
a nuisance;" it may only be so proven in a hearing
Prevailing jurisprudence holds that unless a conducted for that purpose and may not be
nuisance is a nuisance per se, it may not be summarily abated without judicial intervention.
summarily abated. (Cruz and De la Cruz v. Pandacan Hikers’ Club, Inc.,
G.R. No. 188213, January 11, 2016)
There is a nuisance when there is "any act,
omission, establishment, business, condition of In the case at bar, none of the tribunals below made
property, or anything else which: (1) injures or a factual finding that the basketball ring was a
endangers the health or safety of others; or (2) nuisance per se that is susceptible to a summary
annoys or offends the senses; or (3) shocks, defies abatement. And based on what appears in the
or disregards decency or morality; or (4) obstructs records, it can be held, at most, as a mere nuisance
or interferes with the free passage of any public per accidens, for it does not pose an immediate effect
highway or street, or any body of water; or (5) upon the safety of persons and property, the
hinders or impairs the use of property." But other definition of a nuisance per se. Culling from
than the statutory definition, jurisprudence examples cited in jurisprudence, it is unlike a mad
recognizes that the term "nuisance" is so dog on the loose, which may be killed on sight
comprehensive that it has been applied to almost because of the immediate danger it poses to the
all ways which have interfered with the rights of safety and lives of the people; nor is it like
the citizens, either in person, property, the pornographic materials, contaminated meat and
enjoyment of his property, or his comfort. narcotic drugs which are inherently pernicious and
which may be summarily destroyed; nor is it
A nuisance is classified in two ways: (1) according similar to a filthy restaurant which may be
to the object it affects; or (2) according to its summarily padlocked in the interest of the public
susceptibility to summary abatement. health. A basketball ring, by itself, poses no
immediate harm or danger to anyone but is merely
As for a nuisance classified according to the object an object of recreation. Neither is it, by its nature,
or objects that it affects, a nuisance may either be: injurious to rights of property, of health or of
(a) a public nuisance, i.e., one which "affects a comfort of the community and, thus, it may not be
community or neighborhood or any considerable abated as a nuisance without the benefit of a
number of persons, although the extent of the judicial hearing.
annoyance, danger or damage upon individuals
may be unequal"; or (b) a private nuisance, or one But even if it is assumed, ex gratia argumenti, that
"that is not included in the foregoing definition" the basketball ring was a nuisance per se, but
which, in jurisprudence, is one which "violates only without posing any immediate harm or threat that
private rights and produces damages to but one or required instantaneous action, the destruction or
a few persons." abatement performed by petitioners failed to
observe the proper procedure for such an action
A nuisance may also be classified as to whether it is which puts the said act into legal question.
susceptible to a legal summary abatement, in which
case, it may either be: (a) a nuisance per se, when it Under Article 700 of the Civil Code, the abatement,
affects the immediate safety of persons and including one without judicial proceedings, of a
property, which may be summarily abated under public nuisance is the responsibility of the district
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
health officer. Under Article 702 of the Code, the … a reading of the decisions of the Court of
district health officer is also the official who shall Appeals and the OP shows that the evidence
determine whether or not abatement, without petitioners presented had been duly considered.
judicial proceedings, is the best remedy against a Indeed, aside from their general allegation that the
public nuisance. The two articles do not mention Court of Appeals did not consider their evidence,
that the chief executive of the local government, petitioners failed to identify any conclusion arrived
like the Punong Barangay, is authorized as the at by the Court of Appeals or the OP that was not
official who can determine the propriety of a supported by the evidence on record. Moreover,
summary abatement. (Cruz and De la Cruz v. both the Court of Appeals and the OP addressed
Pandacan Hikers’ Club, Inc., G.R. No. 188213, the issues raised by the parties, and subsequently
January 11, 2016) cited the proper evidence on record and quoted the
applicable laws and jurisprudence to support their
The Administrative Code of 1987 explicitly states findings. The bare allegation that they were denied
that the OSG shall have the power to "deputize due process cannot overcome the clear fact that
legal officers of government departments, bureaus, they were given every opportunity to establish
agencies and offices to assist the Solicitor General their claims. (Agustin-Se v. Office of the President,
and appear or represent the Government in cases G.R. No. 207355, February 3, 2016)
involving their respective offices, brought before
the courts and exercise supervision and control Petitioners further allege that the Court of Appeals
over such legal officers with respect to such cases." gravely erred in applying the provisions of EO No.
But it is likewise settled that the OSG’s deputized 13, as the decision of the OP was approved only by
counsel is "no more than the ‘surrogate’ of the the Executive Secretary without the
Solicitor General in any particular proceeding" recommendation of the ODESLA. They argue that
and the latter remains the principal counsel their right to due process was violated as the
entitled to be furnished copies of all court orders, decision was rendered by only one person rather
notices, and decisions. In this case, records show than through the recommendation of a collegial
that it was the OSG that first entered an appearance body - namely the Investigative and the
in behalf of the Republic; hence, it remains the Adjudicatory Division of the ODESLA. We find
principal counsel of record. The appearance of the this argument patently baseless. As correctly
deputized counsel did not divest the OSG of pointed out by the Court of Appeals, there is
control over the case and did not make the nothing in EO No. 13 which states that findings on
deputized special attorney the counsel of record. the complaints against a presidential appointee,
Thus, the RTC properly acted within bounds when such as a Deputy Ombudsman, must be issued by a
it relied on the rule that it is the notice to the OSG collegial body. The ODESLA is merely a fact-
that is binding. (Republic v. Viaje, G.R. No.180993, finding and recommendatory body to the
January 27, 2016) President; and thus, it does not have the power to
settle controversies and adjudicate cases…
The deputized counsel is no more than the Moreover, as the report of the ODESLA is merely
"surrogate" of the Solicitor General in any recommendatory in nature, its absence does not
particular proceeding and the latter remains the negate the validity of the decision of the OP. There
principal counsel entitled to be furnished copies of is nothing in EO No. 13 which states that the lack of
all court orders, notices, and decisions. Hence, any recommendation of the ODESLA renders the OP's
court order and decision sent to the deputy, acting decision in an administrative case void. Thus, it
as an agent of the Solicitor General, is not cannot be said that petitioners were deprived of
binding until it is actually received by the their right to due process. (Agustin-Se v. Office of the
Solicitor General. (Republic v. Viaje, G.R. President, G.R. No. 207355, February 3, 2016)
No.180993, January 27, 2016)

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
The Court has resolved in SURNECO that the ERC authority to immediately disconnect the
observed administrative due process when it respondents' electric service. As a result, the
enjoined electric cooperatives to refund their over- immediate disconnection of the respondents'
recoveries. They were duly informed of the need electric service is presumed to be in bad faith.
for their monthly documentary submissions and (Manila Electric Company v. Sps. Ramos, G.R. No.
were allowed to submit them accordingly. 195145, February 10, 2016)
Hearings and exit conferences with the
representatives of electric cooperatives were also Consequently, it is clear that the issuance of CA
conducted. These conferences entailed discussions Resolutions dated July 5, 2012 and August 20, 2013,
on preliminary figures and their further verification and the Entry of Judgment dated August 21, 2012
to determine and correct any inaccuracies. The was tainted with grave abuse of discretion. In
electric cooperatives were also allowed to file Republic of the Philippines v. Heirs of Evaristo Tiotioen,
motions for reconsideration of the ERC orders the Court even emphatically ruled that "the belated
respectively directing them to make the filing of an appeal by the State, or even its failure to
refunds…NEECO I underwent the same file an opposition, in a land registration case
administrative procedure and was accorded similar because of the mistake or error on the part of its
opportunities to present its side and objections. It officials or agents does not deprive the government
attended the conferences conducted by the ERC on of its right to appeal from a judgment of the court."
January 8, 2004 and on November 8, 2005. It was (Republic v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 210233,
also allowed to file documentary submissions and February 15, 2016)
seek a reconsideration of the ERC Order dated July
27, 2006. (Nueva Ecija I Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. In Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, Inc. v.
Energy Regulatory Commission, G.R. No. 180642, Peñafiel (599 Phil. 511 [2009]), cited by the CA, the
February 3, 2016) Court explained that: (1) the object of a notice of
sale is to achieve a reasonably wide publicity of the
To reiterate, R.A. 7832 has two requisites for an auction by informing the public of the nature and
electric service provider to be authorized to condition of the property to be auctioned, and of
disconnect its customer's electric service on the the time, place and terms of the sale, and thereby
basis of alleged electricity pilferage: first, an officer secure bidders and prevent a sacrifice of the
of the law or an authorized ERB representative property; (2) a newspaper to be considered one of
must be present during the inspection of the general circulation need not have the largest
electric facilities; and second, even if there is prima circulation but must be able to appeal to the public
facie evidence of illegal use of electricity and the in general and thus ensure a wide readership, and
customer is caught in flagrante delicto committing must not be devoted solely to entertainment or the
the acts under Section 4(a), the customer must still interest of a particular class, profession, trade,
be given due notice prior to the disconnection… calling, race, or religious denomination; and (3)
After a thorough examination of the records of the Section 3 of Act No. 3135, as amended by Act No.
case, we find no proof that MERALCO complied 4118, does not only require the newspaper to be of
with these two requirements under R.A. 7832. general circulation but also that it is circulated in
MERALCO never even alleged in its submissions the municipality or city where the property is
that an ERB representative or an officer of the law located. (Sps. Jonsay v. Solidbank Corporation, G.R.
was present during the inspection of the No. 206459, April 6, 2016)
respondents' electric meter. Also, it did not claim
that the respondents were ever notified beforehand That petitioners were given ample opportunity to
of the impending disconnection of their electric present their evidence before the Regional Director
service. In view of MERALCO's failure to comply is indisputable. They were notified of the summary
with the strict requirements under Sections 4 and 6 investigations conducted on March 3, 2004 and
of R. A. No. 7832, we hold that MERALCO had no April 1, 2004, both of which they failed to attend.
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
To justify their non-appearance, petitioners claim Alfornon's right to due process was not violated.
they requested a resetting of the April 1, 2004 (Alfornon v. de los Santos, G.R. No. 203657, July 11,
hearing due to the unavailability of their counsel. 2016)
However, no such explanation was proffered as to
why they failed to attend the first hearing. At any The Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the
rate, it behooved the petitioners to ensure that they, Civil Service, which govern the conduct of
as well as their counsel, would be available on the disciplinary and non-disciplinary proceedings in
dates set for the summary investigation as this administrative cases, clearly provide that
would enable them to prove their claim of non- "[administrative investigations shall be conducted
existence of an employer-employee relationship. without strict recourse to the technical rules of
Clearly, their own negligence did them in. Their procedure and evidence applicable to judicial
lament that they have been deprived of due process proceedings." Thus, administrative due process
is specious. (South Cotabato Communications cannot be fully equated with due process in its
Corporation v. Sto. Tomas, G.R. No. 217575, June 15, strict judicial sense. (Office of the Court Administrator
2016) v. Silongan, A.M. No. P-13-3137, August 23, 2016)

In Agabon v. National Labor Relations Commission, the The Board's jurisdiction to hear and decide
Court held that if the dismissal was for cause, the administrative cases against nursing professionals
lack of statutory due process should not nullify the is inherent in its authority to supervise and
dismissal, or render it illegal or ineffectual. regulate the nursing profession. Meanwhile, the
However, respondents' violation of petitioner's power to institute an administrative case motu
right to statutory due process warrants the proprio, as well as the conduct of the proceedings
payment of indemnity in the form of nominal by the special prosecutors and hearing officers
damages. The amount of such damages is delegated by the PRC or the Board is provided for
addressed to the sound discretion of the Court, in the PRC Rules. As explained by the Board, it
taking into account the relevant circumstances. participates in the administrative proceedings in its
Hence, the CA did not err in awarding the amount capacity as adjudicating body and does not wield
of P30,000.00 to petitioner as and by way of any amount of control or supervision relative to the
nominal damages. (Santos v. Integrated prosecution of the case, and decides motu proprio
Pharmaceutical, Inc., G.R. No. 204620, July 11, 2016) cases based on the presence or absence of evidence
and not in any way on the basis of the formal
After carefully examining the records of this case, charge it initiated. The prosecution of the case is
we find that there was substantial compliance in left to the special prosecutors who are under the
following the procedure laid down in the direct control and supervision of the Legal and
URACCS… Here, however, Alfornon was able to Investigation Division of the PRC… In fact, the
explain her side and, in fact, admitted that she gave only prohibition under Book VII of the
a false answer in her PDS… In the present case, Administrative Code of 1987 is that no hearing
Alfornon was given every opportunity to face the officer shall engage in both adjudicatory and
charges of dishonesty against her. She was able to prosecutory functions. Besides, any perceived error
give her answer during the initial investigation on the decision of the Board is appealable to the
before Galeos and before the formal investigation PRC, and thereafter, to the CA. Moreover, on a
conducted by the LGU-Argao Fact-Finding more practical note, the composition of the Board
Committee. Also, Alfornon sought reconsideration of Nursing changes every three years. The current
before the CSC. While the filing of a motion for Board is now composed of new members.
reconsideration does not necessarily cure a Therefore, the evil of having a partial tribunal is no
violation of the right to due process, the move, longer extant. We emphasize that in administrative
however, gives due recognition to the right to due proceedings, such as the case at bar, procedural
process. All told, we affirm the CA's finding that due process simply means the opportunity to
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
explain one's side or the opportunity to seek a the applicant must first secure a medical certificate
reconsideration of the action or ruling complained issued by a licensed private or government
of. To reiterate, Cordero was informed of the physician that will confirm his medical or disability
subject matter of the charges against him. He was condition. If an applicant is an employee with
given the opportunity to dispute the charges apparent disability, a "certificate of disability"
through his Answer. Cordero cannot fully claim issued by the head of the business establishment or
that he was not afforded due process, or even claim the head of the non-governmental organization is
partiality on the part of the Board at this stage needed for him to be issued a PWD-IDC. For a
because the administrative proceedings have only student with apparent disability, the "school
reached the pre-trial stage, due mainly to Cordero's assessment" issued by the teacher and signed by
numerous pleadings asserting violation of due the school principal should be presented to avail of
process. All told, Cordero's right to due process a PWD-ID. (Drugstores Association of the Philippines
was not violated. (Cordero v. Board of Nursing, G.R. v. National Council on Disability Affairs, G.R. No.
No. 188646, September 21, 2016) 194561, September 14, 2016)

Further, petitioners aver that Section 32 of R.A. No. Petitioners' insistence that Part IV (D) of NCDA
7277 as amended by R.A. No. 9442 is Administrative Order No. 1 is void because it
unconstitutional and void for violating the due allows allegedly non-competent persons like
process clause of the Constitution since entitlement teachers, head of establishments and heads of Non-
to the 20% discount is allegedly merely based on Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to confirm
any of the three documents mentioned in the the medical condition of the applicant is misplaced.
provision, namely: (i) an identification card issued It must be stressed that only for apparent
by the city or municipal mayor or the barangay disabilities can the teacher or head of a business
captain of the place where the PWD resides; (ii) the establishment validly issue the mentioned required
passport of the PWD; or (iii) transportation document because, obviously, the disability is
discount fare identification card issued by NCDA. easily seen or clearly visible. It is, therefore, not an
Petitioners, thus, maintain that none of the said unqualified grant of authority for the said non-
documents has any relation to a medical finding of medical persons as it is simply limited to apparent
disability, and the grant of the discount is allegedly disabilities. For a non-apparent disability or a
without any process for the determination of a disability condition that is not easily seen or clearly
PWD in accordance with law. visible, the disability can only be validated by a
licensed private or government physician, and a
Section 32 of R.A. No. 7277, as amended by R.A. medical certificate has to be presented in the
No. 9442, must be read with its IRR which stated procurement of an IDC. Relative to this issue, the
that upon its effectivity, NCWDP (which is the CA validly ruled, thus:
government agency tasked to ensure the
implementation of RA 7277), would adopt the IDC We agree with the Office of the Solicitor General's
issued by the local government units for purposes (OSG) ratiocination that teachers, heads of business
of uniformity in the implementation. Thus, NCDA establishments and heads of NGOs can validly
A.O. No. 1 provides the reasonable guidelines in confirm the medical condition of their
the issuance of IDCs to PWDs as proof of their students/employees with apparent disability for
entitlement to the privileges and incentives under obvious reasons as compared to non-apparent
the law and fills the details in the implementation disability which can only be determined by
of the law. licensed physicians. Under the Labor Code,
disabled persons are eligible as apprentices or
As stated in NCDA A.O. No. 1, before an IDC is learners provided that their handicaps are not as
issued by the city or municipal mayor or the much as to effectively impede the performance of
barangay captain, or the Chairman of the NCDA, their job. We find that heads of business
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
establishments can validly issue certificates of resulting to the person's limitations to
disability of their employees because aside from the do day to day activities as normally as
fact that they can obviously validate the disability, possible such as but not limited to those
they also have medical records of the employees as undergoing dialysis, heart disorders,
a pre-requisite in the hiring of employees. Hence, severe cancer cases and such other
Part IV (D) of NCDA AO No. 1 is logical and valid. similar cases resulting to temporary or
permanent disability.
Furthermore, DOH A.O. No. 2009-11 prescribes
additional guidelines for the 20% discount in the Similarly, DOH A.O. No. 2009-0011 defines the
purchase of all medicines for the exclusive use of different categories of disability as follows:
PWD. To avail of the discount, the PWD must not
only present his I.D. but also the doctor's Rule IV, Section 4, Paragraph B of the
prescription stating, among others, the generic Implementing Rules and Regulations
name of the medicine, the physician's address, (IRR) of this Act required the
contact number and professional license number, Department of Health to address the
professional tax receipt number and narcotic health concerns of seven (7) different
license number, if applicable. A purchase booklet categories of disability, which include
issued by the local social/health office is also the following: (1) Psychological and
required in the purchase of over-the-counter behavioral disabilities (2) Chronic illness
medicines. Likewise, any single dispensing of with disabilities (3)Learning(cognitive
or intellectual) disabilities (4) Mental
medicine must be in accordance with the
disabilities (5) Visual/seeing disabilities
prescription issued by the physician and should (6) Orthopedic/moving, and (7)
not exceed a one (1) month supply. Therefore, as communication deficits.
correctly argued by the respondents, Section 32 of
R.A. No. 7277 as amended by R.A. No. 9442 Elementary is the rule that when laws or rules are
complies with the standards of substantive due clear, when the law is unambiguous and
process. unequivocal, application not interpretation thereof
is imperative. However, where the language of a
We are likewise not persuaded by the argument of statute is vague and ambiguous, an interpretation
petitioners that the definition of "disabilities" under thereof is resorted to. A law is deemed ambiguous
the subject laws is vague and ambiguous because it when it is capable of being understood by
is allegedly so general and broad that the person reasonably well-informed persons in either of two
tasked with implementing the law will or more senses. The fact that a law admits of
undoubtedly arrive at different interpretations and different interpretations is the best evidence that it
applications of the law. Aside from the definitions is vague and ambiguous.
of a "person with disability" or "disabled persons"
under Section 4 of R.A. No. 7277 as amended by In the instant case, We do not find the aforestated
R.A. No. 9442 and in the IRR of RA 9442, NCDA definition of terms as vague and ambiguous.
A.O. No. 1 also provides: Settled is the rule that courts will not interfere in
matters which are addressed to the sound
4. Identification Cards shall be issued to
discretion of the government agency entrusted
any bona fide PWD with permanent with the regulation of activities coming under the
disabilities due to any one or more of special and technical training and knowledge of
the following conditions: psychosocial, such agency. As a matter of policy, We accord great
chronic illness, learning, mental, visual, respect to the decisions and/or actions of
orthopedic, speech and hearing administrative authorities not only because of the
conditions. This includes persons doctrine of separation of powers but also for their
suffering from disabling diseases
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
presumed knowledge, ability, and expertise in the of stock in the Bulletin Today Publishing Company
enforcement of laws and regulations entrusted to and Liwayway Publishing, Inc. The PCGG found
their jurisdiction. The rationale for this rule relates probable cause to file the Information after
not only to the emergence of the multifarious needs conducting a preliminary investigation of the
of a modern or modernizing society and the charges filed against respondent.
establishment of diverse administrative agencies
for addressing and satisfying those needs; it also Earlier, or on 20 July 1987, the PCGG had filed a
relates to the accumulation of experience and complaint for reconveyance, reversion, accounting,
growth of specialized capabilities by the restitution and damages against respondent and
administrative agency charged with implementing several other persons before the Sandiganbayan.
a particular statute. (Drugstores Association of the xxx.
Philippines v. National Council on Disability Affairs,
G.R. No. 194561, September 14, 2016) By these two acts of the PCGG the filing of the civil
complaint and the gathering of additional evidence
The Court notes that even though the petitioners - the present preliminary investigation and the
failed to participate in the proceedings before the reinvestigation proceedings have been rendered
LA, they were able to argue their case before the defective.
NLRC. The petitioners, through their pleadings,
were able to argue their position and submit Considering that the PCGG initiated a civil
evidence in support of their position that they did complaint against respondent for the same acts
not receive the summons and notices from the LA; alleged in the present Information, it is evident that
and that Melivo was not illegally dismissed. (Oyster it had already formed its conclusions even prior to
Plaza Hotel v. Melivo, G.R. No. 217455, October 5, conducting the preliminary investigation in this
2016) case. Further, since the PCGG itself gathered the
additional evidence in support of the Information,
In Cojuangco, this Court declared the preliminary the reinvestigation it carried out could not have
investigation conducted by the PCGG in Criminal been the fair and impartial review contemplated by
Cases No. 14398 and 14399 null and void on due law.
process grounds. It was noted that prior to the
conduct of the preliminary investigation, the PCGG As this Court noted in Cojuangco, the PCGG cannot
had gathered evidence against respondent, issued a gather evidence against a respondent, file a
sequestration order against him, and filed a civil criminal complaint, and then conduct a preliminary
case for recovery of ill-gotten wealth based on the investigation of the case without contravening the
same facts involved in the criminal cases. Based on basic tenets of due process. The due process
those circumstances, the Court found that the violation was compounded by the fact that the
PCGG could not have possibly acted with the "cold PCGG had filed a civil complaint against the same
neutrality of an impartial judge" during the respondent alleging substantially the same illegal
preliminary investigation proceedings, since the or criminal acts:
latter had already formed conclusions on the
matter. xxx. In our criminal justice system, the law
enforcer who conducted the criminal
The same factual circumstances obtain in this case. investigation, gathered the evidence
and thereafter filed the complaint for
the purpose of preliminary
As discussed earlier, the PCGG filed an
investigation cannot be allowed to
Information against respondent for violation of conduct the preliminary investigation
R.A. 3019. The Information alleged that he had of his own complaint. It is to say the
illegally acted as a nominee/dummy of former least arbitrary and unjust. It is in such
President Ferdinand E. Marcos in acquiring shares instances that We say one cannot be "a
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
prosecutor and judge at the same time." by the Sandiganbayan's earlier finding of probable
Having gathered the evidence and cause.
filed the complaint as a law enforcer,
he cannot be expected to handle with
As a general rule, defects in the preliminary
impartiality the preliminary
investigation of his own complaint, investigation proceedings, or even the absence
this time as a public prosecutor. The thereof, will not render an Information null and
circumstances of the instant petition void. An exception to this rule, however, was
are even worse. To repeat, the PCGG carved out for cases involving violations of the
and the Solicitor General finding a right to due process… The principle followed by
prima facie basis filed a civil complaint this Court is that where there is a violation of basic
against petitioner and intervenors constitutional rights, courts are ousted from
alleging substantially the same illegal jurisdiction. The violation of a party's right to due
or criminal acts subject of the
process raises a serious jurisdictional issue, which
subsequent criminal complaints the
cannot be glossed over or disregarded at will.
Solicitor General filed with the PCGG
for preliminary investigation. While Where the denial of the fundamental right of due
ostensibly, it is only the Solicitor process is apparent, a decision rendered in
General who is the complainant in the disregard of that right is void for lack of
criminal cases filed with the PCGG, in jurisdiction. As a consequence of the nullity of the
reality the PCGG is an unidentified co- Information, any action taken by the
complainant. Moreover, when the Sandiganbayan pursuant thereto, including its
PCGG issued the sequestration and initial determination of probable cause against
freeze orders against petitioner's respondent, is void and ineffective. A ruling on this
properties, it was on the basis of a
point cannot validate, much less cure, the fatal
prima facie finding that the same were
defect in the preliminary investigation proceedings
ill-gotten and/or were acquired in
relation to the illegal disposition of or in the Information filed by the PCGG.
coconut levy funds. Thus, the Court Considering the foregoing, and in accordance with
finds that the PCGG cannot possibly the ruling of this Court in Cojuangco, the records of
conduct the preliminary investigation this case should be forwarded to the Ombudsman,
of said criminal complaints with the who has primary jurisdiction over cases of this
"cold neutrality of an impartial nature, for the conduct of a preliminary
judge," as it has prejudged the matter. investigation and for appropriate action. (People v.
Add to this the fact that there are many
Cojuangco, G.R. No. 160864, November 16, 2016)
suits filed by petitioner and the
intervenors against the PCGG and vice
versa. (Emphases supplied) One final observation. We are compelled to
emphasize the fact that the legal points involved
Consistent with the above-quoted Decision of this herein were already clarified by this Court in 1990
Court in Cojuangco, we find that respondent's right when it decided Cojuangco. We already declared in
to due process was violated in the preliminary that case that it was improper for the PCGG to
investigation proceedings conducted by the PCGG conduct preliminary investigations and initiate
in this case. The investigation conducted and the criminal proceedings against individuals whose
Information filed pursuant thereto must therefore properties were previously sequestered by the
be declared null and void. (People v. Cojuangco, G.R. PCGG itself for the same acts and transactions. We
No. 160864, November 16, 2016) made clear that the procedure adopted in Cojuangco
could not be countenanced because it violated the
The denial of due process in this case, as well as the basic tenets of due process. Not only did the Court
resulting nullity of the preliminary investigation expect the PCGG to act in accordance with this
proceedings and the Information, cannot be cured ruling in all future cases, it relied on the institution
to rectify all past proceedings suffering from the
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
same defect by transmitting the records of these as he argues in G.R. Nos. 212427-28. This matter
cases to the Ombudsman for proper action. This was already resolved in the similar case of Estrada,
would have allowed the criminal actions to where this Court said:
proceed with dispatch. (People v. Cojuangco, G.R.
No. 160864, November 16, 2016) Both the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure and the Rules of Procedure of
Therefrom, it is without a doubt that the the Office of the Ombudsman require
requirement of due notice contemplated under the investigating officer to furnish the
respondent with copies of the affidavits
Section 1801(b) of the TCCP, as amended, refers to
of the complainant and affidavits of his
the notice to the owner, importer, consignee or supporting witnesses. Neither of these
interested party of the arrival of its shipment and Rules require the investigating officer to
details thereof. The legislative intent was clear in furnish the respondent with copies of
emphasizing the importance of said notice of the affidavits of his [co-respondents].
arrival, which is intended solely to persons not The right of the respondent is only "to
considered as knowledgeable importers, or those who examine the evidence submitted by the
are not familiar with the governing rules and complainant," as expressly stated in
procedures in the release of importations. We as Section 3 (b), Rule 112 of the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure. This Court
much as said that the due notice requirement under
has unequivocally ruled in Paderanga
Section 1801(b), do not apply to knowledgeable
that "Section 3, Rule 112 of the Revised
importers, such as Chevron in the above-cited case, Rules of Criminal Procedure expressly
for having been considered as one of the regular, provides that the respondent shall only
large-scale and multinational importers of oil and have the right to submit a counter-
oil products, familiar with said rules and affidavit, to examine all other evidence
procedures (including the duty and obligation of submitted by the complainant and,
filing the IEIRD within a non-extendible period of where the fiscal sets a hearing to
30 days) and fully aware of the arrival of its propound clarificatory questions to the
shipment on its privately owned pier or wharf in parties. or their witnesses, to be
afforded an opportunity to be present
the Port of Batangas. (Pilipinas Shell Petroleum
but without the right to examine or
Corporation v. Commissioner of Customs, G.R. No.
cross-examine." Moreover, Section 4 (a,
195876, December 5, 2016) b and c), of Rule II of the Ombudsman's
Rule of Procedure, read together, only
The general rule is that the client is bound by the require the investigating officer to
negligence and mistakes of his counsel. The only furnish the respondent with copies of
exception would be where the lawyer's gross the affidavits of the complainant and his
negligence would result in the grave injustice of supporting witnesses. There is no law
depriving his client of the due process of law. A or rule requiring the investigating
officer to furnish the respondent with
departure from this rule would bring about never-
copies of the affidavits of his co-
ending suits, so long as lawyers could allege their respondents.
own fault or negligence to support the client's case
and obtain remedies and reliefs already lost by In any event, the Ombudsman in this case went
operation of law. (Dimaandal v. Ilagan, G.R. No. beyond its legal duty and eventually granted Sen.
202280, December 7, 2016) Revilla's requests to be furnished with said
counter-affidavits, and even afforded him the
At this juncture, this Court would like to dispel the opportunity to comment thereto. Thus, there is
notion that due process rights were violated when more reason to decline his flawed claims of denial
Sen. Revilla was denied copies of the counter- of due process. Case law states that the
affidavits of his co-respondents in the preliminary touchstone of due process is the opportunity to
investigation proceedings before the Ombudsman
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
be heard, which was undeniably afforded to Sen. transition allowance. After 1 July 1989, the
Revilla in this case. (Cambe v. Ombudsman, G.R. additional financial incentives such as RATA may
Nos. 212014-15, December 6, 2016) no longer be given by the GOCCs with the
exemption of those which were authorized to be
Equal Protection continued under Section 12 of RA 6758.

Even if ZCWD could prove that it had granted the Therefore, the aforesaid provision does not infringe
14th month pay to its employees, it could not insist the equal protection clause of the Constitution as it
that the same should be given to the employees is based on reasonable classification intended to
hired after July 1, 1989. The 14th month pay was in protect the rights of the incumbents against
the nature of an additional benefit, a non-integrated diminution of their pay and benefits. (Zamboanga
benefit, which had been given on top of an City Water District v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No.
employee's usual salary. As discussed above, in 213472, January 26, 2016)
order for a non-integrated benefit to be
continuously enjoyed, it must have been given A serious challenge being posed against Ordinance No.
since July 1, 1989 to incumbents as of the said date. 0309-07 rests on its supposed collision with the Equal
It could not be extended to employees hired after Protection Clause. The respondents submit that the
July 1, 1989 or to those which had replaced the ordinance transgresses this constitutional guaranty on
incumbents as of July 1, 1989. ZCWD is mistaken in two counts, to wit: (1) by prohibiting aerial spraying per
arguing that such treatment violated the equal se, regardless of the substance or the level of
protection clause enshrined in the Constitution. concentration of the chemicals to be applied; and (2) by
The equal protection clause allows classification imposing the 30-meter buffer zone in all agricultural
provided that it is based on real and substantial lands in Davao City regardless of the sizes of the
differences having a reasonable relation to the landholding. xxx.
subject of the particular legislation. As explained
in Aquino v. Philippine Ports Authority, the The reasonability of a distinction and sufficiency of
distinction between employees hired before and the justification given by the Government for its
after July 1, 1989 was based on reasonable conduct is gauged by using the means-end test. This
differences which was germane to the objective of test requires analysis of: (1) the interests of the
the SSL to standardize the salaries of government public that generally require its exercise, as
employees xxx. (Zamboanga City Water District v. distinguished from those of a particular class; and
Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 213472, January 26, (2) the means employed that are reasonably
2016) necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose
and are not unduly oppressive upon individuals.
As explained earlier, the different treatment To determine the propriety of the classification,
accorded the second sentence (first paragraph) of courts resort to three levels of scrutiny, viz: the
Section 12 of RA 6758 to the incumbents as of 1 July rational scrutiny, intermediate scrutiny and strict
1989, on one hand, and those employees hired on scrutiny.
or after the said date, on the other, with respect to
the grant of non-integrated benefits lies in the fact The rational basis scrutiny (also known as the
that the legislature intended to gradually phase out rational relation test or rational basis test) demands
the said benefits without, however, upsetting its that the classification reasonably relate to the
policy of non-diminution of pay and benefits. legislative purpose. The rational basis test often
applies in cases involving economics or social
The consequential outcome under Sections 12 and welfare, or to any other case not involving a
17 is that if the incumbent resigns or is promoted to suspect class.
a higher position, his successor is no longer entitled When the classification puts a quasi-suspect class at
to his predecessor's RATA privilege or to the a disadvantage, it will be treated under
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
intermediate or heightened review. Classifications classification under Ordinance No. 0309-07
based on gender or illegitimacy receives (legislative classification); and (2) the classification
intermediate scrutiny. To survive intermediate based on purpose (elimination of the mischief). The
scrutiny, the law must not only further an legislative classification found in Section 4 of the
important governmental interest and be ordinance refers to "all agricultural entities" within
substantially related to that interest, but the Davao City. Meanwhile, the classification based on
justification for the classification must be genuine the purpose of the ordinance cannot be easily
and must not depend on broad generalizations. discerned because the ordinance does not make
any express or implied reference to it. We have to
The strict scrutiny review applies when a search the voluminous records of this case to divine
legislative classification impermissibly interferes the animus behind the action of the Sangguniang
with the exercise of a fundamental right or operates Panglungsod in prohibiting aerial spraying as an
to the peculiar class disadvantage of a suspect class. agricultural activity. xxx.
The Government carries the burden to prove that
the classification is necessary to achieve a It can be noted that the imposition of the ban is too
compelling state interest, and that it is the least broad because the ordinance applies irrespective of
restrictive means to protect such interest. the substance to be aerially applied and
irrespective of the agricultural activity to be
The petitioners advocate the rational basis test. In conducted. The respondents admit that they
particular, the petitioning residents of Davao City aerially treat their plantations not only with
argue that the CA erroneously applied the strict pesticides but also vitamins and other substances.
scrutiny approach when it declared that the The imposition of the ban against aerial spraying of
ordinance violated the Equal Protection Clause substances other than fungicides and regardless of
because the ban included all substances including the agricultural activity being performed becomes
water and vitamins. The respondents agree with unreasonable inasmuch as it patently bears no
the CA, however, and add that the ordinance does relation to the purported inconvenience,
not rest on a valid distinction because it has lacked discomfort, health risk and environmental danger
scientific basis and has ignored the classifications of which the ordinance, seeks to address. The burden
pesticides observed by the FPA. now will become more onerous to various entities
including the respondents and even others with no
We partly agree with both parties. connection whatsoever to the intended purpose of
the ordinance. xxx.
In our view, the petitioners correctly argue that the
rational basis approach appropriately applies Evidently, the ordinance discriminates against
herein. Under the rational basis test, we shall: (1) large farmholdings that are the only ideal venues
discern the reasonable relationship between the for the investment of machineries and equipment
means and the purpose of the ordinance; and (2) capable of aerial spraying. It effectively denies the
examine whether the means or the prohibition affected individuals the technology aimed at
against aerial spraying is based on a substantial or efficient and cost-effective operations and
reasonable distinction. A reasonable classification cultivation not only of banana but of other crops as
includes all persons or things similarly situated well. The prohibition against aerial spraying will
with respect to the purpose of the law. seriously hamper the operations of the banana
plantations that depend on aerial technology to
Applying the test, the established classification arrest the spread of the Black Sigatoka disease and
under Ordinance No. 0309-07 is to be viewed in other menaces that threaten their production and
relation to the group of individuals similarly harvest. As earlier shown, the effect of the ban will
situated with respect to the avowed purpose. This not be limited to Davao City in view of the
gives rise to two classes, namely: (1) the
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
significant contribution of banana export trading to Association of the Philippines v. National
the country's economy. Council on Disability Affairs, G.R. No.
194561, September 14, 2016)
The discriminatory character of the ordinance
makes it oppressive and unreasonable in light of The equal protection clause recognizes a valid
the existence and availability of more permissible classification, that is, a classification that has a
and practical alternatives that will not overburden reasonable foundation or rational basis and not
the respondents and those dependent on their arbitrary. With respect to R.A. No. 9442, its
operations as well as those who stand to be affected expressed public policy is the rehabilitation, self-
by the ordinance. xxx. (Mosqueda v. Pilipino Banana development and self-reliance of PWDs. Persons
Growers and Exporters Association, Inc., G.R. No. with disability form a class separate and distinct
189185, August 16, 2016) from the other citizens of the country. Indubitably,
such substantial distinction is germane and
Lastly, petitioners contend that R.A. No. 7227, as intimately related to the purpose of the law. Hence,
amended by R.A. No. 9442, violates the equal the classification and treatment accorded to the
protection clause of the Constitution because it PWDs fully satisfy the demands of equal
fairly singles out drugstores to bear the burden of protection. Thus, Congress may pass a law
the discount, and that it can hardly be said to providing for a different treatment to persons with
"rationally" meet a legitimate government objective disability apart from the other citizens of the
which is the purpose of the law. The law allegedly country.
targets only retailers such as petitioners, and that
the other enterprises in the drug industry are not Subject to the determination of the courts as to
imposed with similar burden. This same argument what is a proper exercise of police power using the
had been raised in the case of Carlos Superdrug due process clause and the equal protection clause
Corp., et al. v. DSWD, et al., and We reaffirm and as yardsticks, the State may interfere wherever the
apply the ruling therein in the case at bar: public interests demand it, and in this particular, a
large discretion is necessarily vested in the
The Court is not oblivious of the retail legislature to determine, not only what interests of
side of the pharmaceutical industry and the public require, but what measures are
the competitive pricing component of necessary for the protection of such interests. Thus,
the business. While the Constitution We are mindful of the fundamental criteria in cases
protects property rights, petitioners of this nature that all reasonable doubts should be
must accept the realities of business and resolved in favor of the constitutionality of a
the State, in the exercise of police power, statute. The burden of proof is on him who claims
can intervene in the operations of a
that a statute is unconstitutional. Petitioners failed
business which may result in an
to discharge such burden of proof. (Drugstores
impairment of property rights in the
process. Association of the Philippines v. National Council on
Disability Affairs, G.R. No. 194561, September 14,
Moreover, the right to property has a 2016)
social dimension. While Article XIII of
the Constitution provides the precept Also, the equal protection clause is not violated.
for the protection of property, various Generally, there is no property right to safeguard
laws and jurisprudence, particularly on because even if one is eligible to be buried at the
agrarian reform and the regulation of LNMB, such fact would only give him or her the
contracts and public utilities,
privilege to be interred therein. Unless there is a
continuously serve as a reminder that
favorable recommendation from the Commander--
the right to property can be relinquished
upon the command of the State for the in-Chief, the Congress or the Secretary of National
promotion of public good. (Drugstores Defense, no right can be said to have ripen. Until
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
then, such inchoate right is not legally demandable he/she shall have received pay from the Philippine
and unenforceable. Government, and/or such others as may be hereafter be
prescribed by law as active service (PD 1638, as
Assuming that there is a property right to protect, amended)." To my mind, the word "service" should
the requisites of equal protection clause are not be construed as that rendered by a military person
met. In this case, there is a real and substantial in the AFP, including civil service, from the time of
distinction between a military personnel and a his/her commission, enlistment, probation,
former President. The conditions of dishonorable training or drafting, up to the date of his/her
discharge under the Articles of War attach only to separation or retirement from the AFP. Civil
the members of the military. There is also no service after honorable separation and retirement
substantial distinction between Marcos and the from the AFP is outside the context of "service"
three Philippine Presidents buried at the LNMB under AFP Regulations G 161-375.
(Presidents Quirino, Garcia, and Macapagal). All of
them were not convicted of a crime involving Hence, it cannot be conveniently claimed that
moral turpitude. In addition, the classification Marcos' ouster from the presidency during the
between a military personnel and a former EDSA Revolution is tantamount to his
President is germane to the purposes of dishonorable separation, reversion or discharge
Proclamation No. 208 and P.D. No. 1076. While the from the military service. The fact that the
LNMB is a national shrine for military memorials, President is the Commander-in-Chief of the AFP
it is also an active military cemetery that under the 1987 Constitution only enshrines the
recognizes the status or position held by the principle of supremacy of civilian authority over
persons interred therein. the military. Not being a military person who may
be prosecuted before the court martial, the
Likewise, Marcos was honorably discharged from President can hardly be deemed "dishonorably
military service. PVAO expressly recognized him separated/reverted/discharged from the service" as
as a retired veteran pursuant to R.A. No. 6948, as contemplated by AFP Regulations G 161-375.
amended. Petitioners have not shown that he was Dishonorable discharge through a successful
dishonorably discharged from military service revolution is an extra-constitutional and direct
under AFP Circular 17, Series of 1987 sovereign act of the people which is beyond the
(Administrative Discharge Prior to Expiration of ambit of judicial review, let alone a mere
Term of Enlistment) for violating Articles 94, 95 administrative regulation.
and 97 of the Articles of War. The NHCP study is
incomplete with respect to his entire military career It is undeniable that former President Marcos was
as it failed to cite and include the official records of forced out of office by the people through the so-
the AFP. called EDSA Revolution. Said political act of the
people should not be automatically given a
With respect to the phrase "[p]ersonnel who were particular legal meaning other than its obvious
dishonorably separated/reverted/discharged from the consequence- that of ousting him as president. To
service," the same should be viewed in light of the do otherwise would lead the Court to the
definition provided by AFP Regulations G 161-375 treacherous and perilous path of having to make
to the term "active service" which is "[s]ervice rendered choices from multifarious inferences or theories
by a military person as a Commissioned Officer, enlisted arising from the various acts of the people. It is not
man/woman, probationary officer, trainee or draftee in the function of the Court, for instance, to divine the
the Armed Forces of the Philippines and service exact implications or significance of the number of
rendered by him/her as a civilian official or employee in votes obtained in elections, or the message from the
the Philippine Government prior to the date of his/her number of participants in public assemblies. If the
separation or retirement from the Armed Forces of the Court is not to fall into the pitfalls of getting
Philippines, for which military and/or civilian service embroiled in political and oftentimes emotional, if
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
not acrimonious, debates, it must remain steadfast Cebu into an HUC and the subsequent enactment
in abiding by its recognized guiding stars - clear of the 1991 Local Government Code rendered the
constitutional and legal rules - not by the uncertain, continued application of Section 3(b) in disregard
ambiguous and confusing messages from the of the reclassification unreasonable and unfair.
actions of the people. (Ocampo v. Enriquez, G.R. No. Clearly, the assailed provision no longer provided
225973, November 8, 2016) for substantial distinction because, firstly, it
ignored that the MCWD was built without the
Here, petitioner's constant invocation of the equal participation of the provincial government;
protection clause is misleading. In its petition, secondly, it failed to consider that the MCWD
petitioner PHIC insists that all its employees existed to serve the community that represents the
should be treated equally, regardless of whether needs of the majority of the active water service
they rendered their service to the PHIC or to its connections; and, thirdly, the main objective of the
predecessor, PMCC. Without delving into the decree was to improve the water service while
matter of whether said employees were employed keeping up with the needs of the growing
before or after July 1, 1989, it then concluded that population. (Rama v. Moises, G.R. No. 197146,
all employees must be paid their back COLA that December 6, 2016)
was unduly withdrawn from them after the
issuance of the DBM CCC 10, and for the entire Probable Cause
duration that the circular was in legal limbo. It
bears stressing, however, that the Court, in PPA, Determination of probable cause is either executive
accorded equal treatment to all PPA employees or judicial in nature.
whether they were incumbents as of July 1, 1989,
the time of effectivity of the SSL, or employed The first pertains to the duty of the public
thereafter. Hence, to successfully invoke the prosecutor during preliminary investigation for the
guarantee of equal protection clause under the PPA purpose of filing an information in court. At this
doctrine, petitioner needed to prove, to the Court's juncture, the investigating prosecutor evaluates if
satisfaction, not a discrimination between the the facts are sufficient to engender a well-founded
current PHIC employees and those absorbed from belief that a crime has been committed and that the
PMCC, but rather, a discrimination between accused is probably guilty thereof.
incumbent PHIC employees as of July 1, 1989 and
those employed thereafter, who, as addressed by On the other hand, judicial determination of
the second sentence of Section 12 of the SSL, probable cause refers to the prerogative of the
suffered a diminution in pay. But as previously judge to ascertain if a warrant of arrest should be
observed, petitioner never even alleged the same. issued against the accused. At this stage, the judge
Resultantly, petitioner can neither invoke the makes a preliminary examination of the evidence
guarantee of equal protection of laws nor the submitted, and on the strength thereof, and
principle of non-diminution of benefits to sustain independent from the findings of the public
its grant of the COLA. (Philippine Health Insurance prosecutor, determines the necessity of placing the
Corporation v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 213453, accused under immediate custody in order not to
November 29, 2016) frustrate the ends of justice. (Young v. People, G.R.
No. 213910, February 3, 2016)
On the other hand, the principle of equal protection
enshrined in the Constitution does not require the Pertinently, the Court declared in Santos-Dio v. CA
territorial uniformity of laws… We opine that (Santos-Dio) that while a judge's determination of
although Section 3(b) of P.D. No. 198 provided for probable cause is generally confined to the limited
substantial distinction and was germane to the purpose of issuing arrest warrants, he is
purpose of P.D. No. 198 when it was enacted in nonetheless authorized under Section 5 (a), Rule
1973, the intervening reclassification of the City of 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure to
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
immediately dismiss the case if the evidence on testimonies presented." Thus, in Estrada v.
record clearly fails to establish probable cause. Ombudsman (Estrada), the Court declared that since
(Young v. People, G.R. No. 213910, February 3, 2016) a preliminary investigation does not finally
adjudicate the rights and obligations of parties,
Accordingly, a judge may dismiss the case for lack "probable cause can be established with hearsay
of probable cause only in clear-cut cases when the evidence, as long as there is substantial basis for
evidence on record plainly fails to establish crediting the hearsay." (Reyes v. Ombudsman, G.R.
probable cause - that is when the records readily Nos. 212593-94, March 15, 2016)
show uncontroverted, and thus, established facts
which unmistakably negate the existence of the Assuming arguendo that such whistleblower
elements of the crime charged. (Young v. People, accounts are merely hearsay, it must be reiterated
G.R. No. 213910, February 3, 2016) that - as held in the Estrada case - probable cause
can be established with hearsay evidence, so long
Applying the standard set forth in Santos-Dio, the as there, is substantial basis for crediting the same.
evidence on record herein does not reveal the (Reyes v. Ombudsman, G.R. Nos. 212593-94, March
unmistakable and clear-cut absence of probable 15, 2016)
cause against petitioners. Instead, a punctilious
examination thereof shows that the prosecution During preliminary investigation, the prosecutor
was able to establish a prima facie case against determines the existence of probable cause for
petitioners for violation of Sections 4 (a) and (e) in filing an information in court or dismissing the
relation to Sections 6 (a) and (c) of RA 9208. As it criminal complaint. As worded in the Rules of
appears from the records, petitioners recruited and Court, the prosecutor determines during
hired the AAA Group and, consequently, preliminary investigation whether "there is
maintained them under their employ in Jaguar for sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief
the purpose of engaging in prostitution. In view of that a crime has been committed and the
this, probable cause exists to issue warrants for respondent is probably guilty thereof, and should
their arrest. (Young v. People, G.R. No. 213910, be held for trial." At this stage, the determination of
February 3, 2016) probable cause is an executive function. Absent
grave abuse of discretion, this determination
Also, it should be pointed out that a preliminary cannot be interfered with by the courts. This is
investigation is not the occasion for the full and consistent with the doctrine of separation of
exhaustive display of the prosecution's evidence, powers.
and that the presence or absence of the elements of
the crime is evidentiary in nature and is a matter of On the other hand, if done to issue an arrest
defense that may be passed upon after a full-blown warrant, the determination of probable cause is a
trial on the merits. Therefore, "the validity and judicial function. No less than the Constitution
merits of a party's defense or accusation, as well commands that "no . . . warrant of arrest shall issue
as the admissibility of testimonies and evidence, except upon probable cause to be determined
are better ventilated during trial proper than at personally by the judge after examination under
the preliminary investigation level." oath or affirmation of the complainant and the
witnesses he may produce[.]" xxx. Therefore, the
Furthermore, owing to the initiatory nature of determination of probable cause for filing an
preliminary investigations, the "technical rules of information in court and that for issuance of an
evidence should not be applied" in the course of arrest warrant are different. Once the information
its proceedings, keeping in mind that "the is filed in court, the trial court acquires jurisdiction
determination of probable cause does not depend and "any disposition of the case as to its dismissal
on the validity or merits of a party's accusation or or the conviction or acquittal of the accused rests in
defense or on the admissibilitv or veracity of
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
the sound discretion of the Court." (Napoles v. de assessment of evidence, it finds that the evidence
Lima, G.R. No. 213529, July 13, 2016) does not establish probable cause… (W)e made it
clear that the judge does not act as an appellate
Judge Alameda was under no obligation to review court of the prosecutor and has no capacity to
the entire case record as Napoles insists. All that is review the prosecutor's determination of probable
required is that a judge personally evaluates the cause; rather, he makes a determination of probable
evidence and decides, independent of the finding cause independently of the prosecutor's finding.
of the prosecutor, that probable cause exists so as to Despite the fact that courts should avoid reviewing
justify the issuance of an arrest warrant… In his an executive determination of probable cause, we
August 14, 2013 Order, Judge Alameda declared are not completely powerless to review this matter
that he personally evaluated the records of the case, under our expanded judicial power under the
including the Review Resolution and the Sworn Constitution.
Statements of the witnesses; and that based on the
records, he found probable cause to issue an arrest We are aware, however, that Inocentes availed of
warrant against Napoles xxx. We find this this remedy after he had posted bail before the
declaration sufficient compliance with the Sandiganbayan which, in our jurisdiction, is
constitutional requirement of personal evaluation. tantamount to voluntary surrender. Simply put,
Moreover, Judge Alameda did not gravely abuse questioning the findings of probable cause by the
his discretion in issuing the arrest warrant despite Sandiganbayan at this point would be pointless as
the pendency of the Motions for Judicial it has already acquired jurisdiction over Inocentes.
Determination of Probable Cause filed by Napoles
and Lim. Hearing these Motions would be a mere It is well-settled that jurisdiction over the person of
superfluity, for with or without such motion[s], the the accused is acquired upon (1) his arrest or
judge is duty-bound to personally evaluate the apprehension, with or without a warrant, or (2) his
resolution of the public prosecutor and the voluntary appearance or submission to the
supporting evidence. In fact, the task of the jurisdiction of the court. For this reason, in
presiding judge when the Information is filed with Cojuangco, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan we held that even if
the court is first and foremost to determine the it is conceded that the warrant issued was void (for
existence or non-existence of probable cause for the nonexistence of probable cause), the accused
arrest of the accused. We afford respondents the waived all his rights to object by appearing and
presumption of regularity in the performance of giving a bond, viz:
their duties. Napoles failed to show capriciousness,
whimsicality, arbitrariness, or any despotic exercise On this score, the rule is well-settled
of judgment by reason of passion and hostility on that the giving or posting of bail by the
the part of respondents. (Napoles v. de Lima, G.R. accused is tantamount to submission of
No. 213529, July 13, 2016) his person to the jurisdiction of the
court. [...]
In the present case, the Office of the Ombudsman
By posting bail, herein petitioner cannot
and the Sandiganbayan separately found that claim exemption from the effect of being
probable cause exists to indict and issue a warrant subject to the jurisdiction of respondent
of arrest against Inocentes. However, what court. While petitioner has exerted
Inocentes brings before this Court right now is only efforts to continue disputing the
the finding of the Sandiganbayan of probable cause validity of the issuance of the warrant
for the issuance of a warrant of arrest. Under our of arrest despite his posting bail, his
jurisdiction, any person may avail of this remedy claim has been negated when he
himself invoked the jurisdiction of
since it is well-established in jurisprudence that the
respondent court through the filing of
court may, in the protection of one's fundamental various motions that sought other
rights, dismiss the case if, upon a personal
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
affirmative reliefs. [omission and clarificatory hearing. To start with, her personal
emphasis ours] presence was excusable because of her advanced
age and the distance of her place of residence at the
Therefore, at this point, we no longer find it time (New York, United States of America) from
necessary to dwell on whether there was grave the Province of Batangas, the venue of the
abuse on the part of the Sandiganbayan in finding proceedings. Secondly, the records already
the existence of probable cause to issue a warrant of contained sufficient evidence upon which the
arrest. Had Inocentes brought this matter before he investigating prosecutor could make a finding of
posted bail or without voluntarily surrendering probable cause. Thirdly, she was represented in the
himself, the outcome could have been different. proceedings by her son-in-law Jerico B. Sales,
But, for now, whether the findings of probable whom she had constituted as her agent for
cause was tainted with grave abuse of discretion - purposes of pursuing the criminal case against the
thereby making the warrant of arrest void - does respondents. Being her agent expressly authorized
not matter anymore as even without the warrant for that special purpose, Jerico could competently
the Sandiganbayan still acquired jurisdiction over respond to the investigating prosecutor's
the person of Inocentes. (Inocentes v. People, G.R. clarificatory questions in a manner legally binding
Nos. 205963-64, July 7, 2016) on her. Thirdly, had the investigating prosecutor
sincerely considered her personal presence as
As can be seen, the most important purpose of the absolutely necessary in the determination of
preliminary investigation is to determine whether probable cause, he should have granted her request
or not a crime has been committed, and whether or to have her deposition taken instead. Such power
not the respondent is probably guilty of the crime. was within his discretion as the investigating
Probable cause has been defined as the existence of prosecutor. And, lastly, the investigating
such facts and circumstances as would excite the prosecutor's requiring her personal presence at the
belief in a reasonable mind, acting on the facts clarificatory hearing was probably unnecessary and
within the knowledge of the prosecutor, that the superfluous in view of his failure to specify the
person charged was guilty of the crime for which matters still needing to be clarified. As earlier
he was prosecuted. It is a reasonable ground of mentioned, the documents submitted by both
presumption that a matter is, or may be, well parties in the proceedings were already sufficient
founded on such a state of facts in the mind of the for the determination of whether or not probable
prosecutor as would lead a person of ordinary cause existed against the respondents. If the
caution and prudence to believe, or entertain an clarificatory hearing was geared towards the
honest or strong suspicion, that a thing is so. The determination of the existence of probable cause,
term does not mean actual or positive cause; nor the non-specification of the matters to be inquired
does it import absolute certainty. It is merely based into during the clarificatory hearing indicated that
on opinion and reasonable belief. Thus, a finding of no more matters needed to be clarified from the
probable cause does not require an inquiry into petitioner herself.
whether or not there is sufficient evidence to
procure a conviction. That it is believed that the act Although it was concededly discretionary on the
or omission complained of constitutes the offense part of the investigating prosecutor to call for the
charged is enough. Precisely, there is a trial for the clarificatory hearing considering that Section 4(e) of
reception of evidence of the prosecution in support Rule 112 of the Rules of Court has used the word
of the charge. may in assigning such prerogative to him, the
discretion was not unbounded because the rule
In view of the foregoing, the investigating precisely stated that the clarificatory hearing was to
prosecutor gravely erred in dismissing the be set only "if there are such facts and issues to be
petitioner's criminal complaint for falsification clarified from a party or a witness." (Sales v. Adapon,
simply because of her non-appearance at the G.R. No. 171420, October 5, 2016)
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
Firstly, Caterpillar assailed the resolution of the It is settled that executive determination of
Secretary of Justice by filing a petition for review probable cause is different from the judicial
under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court. Such resort to determination of probable cause. The courts do not
the petition for review under Rule 43 was interfere with the prosecutor's conduct of a
erroneous, and the egregious error warranted the preliminary investigation. The prosecutor's
denial of the appeal. The petition for review under determination of probable cause is solely within his
Rule 43 applied to all appeals to the CA from quasi- or her discretion. Prosecutors are given a wide
judicial agencies or bodies, particularly those listed latitude of discretion to determine whether an
in Section 1 of Rule 43. However, the Secretary of information should be filed in court or whether the
Justice, in the review of the findings of probable complaint should be dismissed. (See Crespo v.
cause by the investigating public prosecutor, was Mogul, 235 Phil. 465 [1987]) A preliminary
not exercising a quasi-judicial function, but investigation is "merely inquisitorial," (Pilapil v.
performing an executive function. Moreover, the Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. I 01978, April 7, 1993, 221
courts could intervene in the determination of SCRA 349, 357) and is only conducted to aid the
probable cause only through the special civil action prosecutor in preparing the information. (Id.) It
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, not serves a two-fold purpose: first, to protect the
by appeal through the petition for review under innocent against wrongful prosecutions; and
Rule 43. Thus, the CA could not reverse or undo second, to spare the state from using its funds and
the findings and conclusions on probable cause by resources in useless prosecutions. xxx. Once the
the Secretary of Justice except upon clear information is filed in court, the court acquires
demonstration of grave abuse of discretion jurisdiction of the case and any motion to dismiss
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction the case or to determine the accused's guilt or
committed by the Secretary of Justice. (Caterpillar, innocence rests within the sound discretion of the
Inc. v. Samson, G.R. No. 205972, November 9, 2016) court. xxx. Thus, it would be ill-advised for the
Secretary of Justice to proceed with resolving
Probable cause for the purpose of filing an respondent's Petition for Review pending before
information in court consists in such facts and her. It would be more prudent to refrain from
circumstances as would engender a well-founded entertaining the Petition considering that the trial
belief that a crime has been committed and the court already issued a warrant of arrest against
accused may probably be guilty thereof. The respondent. The issuance of the warrant signifies
determination of probable cause lies solely within that the trial court has made an independent
the sound discretion of the investigating public determination of the existence of probable cause.
prosecutor after the conduct of a preliminary xxx. Here, the trial court has already determined,
investigation. It is a sound judicial policy to refrain independently of any finding or recommendation
from interfering with the determination of what by the First Panel or the Second Panel, that
constitutes sufficient and convincing evidence to probable cause exists for the issuance of the
establish probable cause for the prosecution of the warrant of arrest against respondent. Probable
accused. Thus, it is imperative that by the nature of cause has been judicially determined. Jurisdiction
his office, the public prosecutor cannot be over the case, therefore, has transferred to the trial
compelled to file a criminal information in court if court. A petition for certiorari questioning the
he is not convinced of the sufficiency of the validity of the preliminary investigation in any
evidence adduced for a finding of probable cause. other venue has been rendered moot by the
Neither can he be precluded from filing an issuance of the warrant of arrest and the conduct of
information if he is convinced of the merits of the arraignment. The Court of Appeals should have
case. (Caterpillar, Inc. v. Samson, G.R. No. 205972, dismissed the Petition for Certiorari filed before
November 9, 2016) them when the trial court issued its warrant of
arrest. Since the trial court has already acquired
jurisdiction over the case and the existence of
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
probable cause has been judicially determined, a is "merely an inquisitorial mode of discovering
petition for certiorari questioning the conduct of whether or not there is reasonable basis to
the preliminary investigation ceases to be the believe that a crime has been committed and
"plain, speedy, and adequate remedy" provided by that the person charged should be held
law. Since this Petition for Review is an appeal responsible for it." It "is not the occasion for the
from a moot Petition for Certiorari, it must also be full and exhaustive display of the prosecution's
rendered moot. The prudent course of action at this evidence." Therefore, "the validity and merits of a
stage would be to proceed to trial. Respondent, party's defense or accusation, as well as the
however, is not without remedies. He may still file admissibility of testimonies and evidence, are
any appropriate action before the trial court or better ventilated during trial proper than at the
question any alleged irregularity in the preliminary preliminary investigation level." Accordingly,
investigation during pre-trial. (De Lima v. Reyes, "owing to the initiatory nature of preliminary
G.R. No. 209330, January 11, 2016) investigations, the technical rules of evidence
should not be applied in the course of its
To begin with, a finding of probable cause needs proceedings." In this light, and as will be
only to rest on evidence showing that more likely elaborated upon below, this Court has ruled that
than not a crime has been committed and that there "probable cause can be established with hearsay
is enough reason to believe that it was committed evidence, as long as there is substantial basis for
by the accused. It need not be based on clear and crediting the hearsay," and that even an
convincing evidence of guilt, or on evidence invocation of the rule on res inter alios acta at this
establishing absolute certainty of guilt. (Joson v. stage of the proceedings is improper. (Cambe v.
Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. Nos. 210220-21, April Ombudsman, G.R. Nos. 212014-15, December 6,
6, 2016) 2016)

As clearly enunciated in Ty, a member of the In any case, this Court has a policy of non-
Board of Directors of a corporation, cannot, by interference in the conduct of preliminary
mere reason of such membership, be held liable investigations… absent any indication that the
for (the) corporation's probable violation of BP 33. Secretary of Justice gravely abused his discretion in
xxx. Clearly, therefore, it is only Antonio, who not finding probable cause for the complaint
undisputedly was the General Manager – a against respondent officers to prosper, the
position among those expressly mentioned as dismissal stands. (Republic of the Philippines v.
criminally liable under paragraph 4, Section 3 of GMCC United Development Corporation, G.R. No.
BP 33, as amended – can be prosecuted for ACCS' 191856, December 7, 2016)
perceived violations of the said law. Respondents
who were mere members of the Board of Arrests
Directors and not shown to be charged with the
management of the business affairs were thus The power of the judge to determine probable
correctly dropped as respondents in the cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest is
complaints. (Federated LPG Dealers Association v. enshrined in Section 2, Article III of the
del Rosario, G.R. No. 202639, November 9, 2016) Constitution xxx. That this power is provided
under no less than the Bill of Rights and the same
In determining the elements of the crime charged section enunciating the inviolable right of persons
for purposes of arriving at a finding of probable to be secure in their persons only shows that the
cause, "only facts sufficient to support a prima power is strictly circumscribed. It implies that a
facie case against the [accused] are required, not warrant of arrest shall issue only upon a judge's
absolute certainty." xxx. It should be borne in personal determination of the evidence against the
mind that probable cause is determined during accused. Thus, when Informations are filed before
the context of a preliminary investigation which the courts and the judges are called upon to
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
determine the existence of probable cause for the not compelled to follow the prosecutor's
issuance of a warrant of arrest, what should be certification of the existence of probable cause. As
foremost in their minds is not anxiety over we stated in People v. Inting, "[i]t is the report, the
stepping on executive toes, but their constitutional affidavits, the transcripts of stenographic notes (if
mandate to order the detention of a person any), and all other supporting documents behind
rightfully indicted or to shield a person from the the [prosecutor's certification which are material in
ordeal of facing a criminal charge not committed by assisting the [j]udge to make his determination."
the latter. Further supporting the proposition that
judges only have to concern themselves with the In this case, it bears stressing that the RTC never
accused and the evidence against the latter in the considered any evidence other than that which the
issuance of warrants of arrest is Section 6(a), Rule panel had already passed upon. The only
112 of the Rules of Court xxx. Indeed, under the difference was that unlike the RTC, the panel did
above-cited provision, judges may very well (1) not give any serious consideration to the counter-
dismiss the case if the evidence on record has affidavits of Ong and Santiago, the recantation of
clearly failed to establish probable cause; (2) issue a Santos or the affidavit of Bishop Bacani. That the
warrant of arrest upon a finding of probable cause; trial court did so spelled the difference between the
or (3) order the prosecutor to present additional divergent findings. xxx. After the RTC received and
evidence within five days from notice in case of examined all the sets of evidence passed upon by
doubt as to the existence of probable cause. When the panel, including those of petitioners and Ong, it
judges dismiss a case or require the prosecutor to correctly found no probable cause to order their
present additional evidence, they do so not in arrest. Accordingly, it dismissed the criminal
derogation of the prosecutor's authority to charge of serious illegal detention. As discussed,
determine the existence of probable cause. that power was lodged with the RTC, which
validly exercised it without grave abuse of
First, judges have no capacity to review the discretion. (Fenix v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
prosecutor's determination of probable cause. That 189878, July 11, 2016)
falls under the office of the DOJ Secretary. Second,
once a complaint or an Information has been filed, We held in People v. Abedin (G.R. No. 179936, April
the disposition of the case is addressed to the 12, 2012, 669 SCRA 322, 337-338) that coordination
sound discretion of the court, subject only to the with the PDEA is not an indispensable requirement
qualification that its action must not impair the before police authorities may carry out a buy-bust
substantial rights of the accused or the right of the operation; that in fact, even the absence of
People to due process of law. Third, and most coordination with the PDEA will not invalidate a
important, the judge's determination of probable buy-bust operation. (People v. Arriola, G.R. No.
cause has a different objective than that of the 187736, February 8, 2012, 665 SCRA 581, 602 citing
prosecutor. The judge's finding is based on a People v. Roa, G.R. No. 186134, May 6, 2010, 620
determination of the existence of facts and SCRA 359) Neither is the presentation of the
circumstances that would lead a reasonably informant indispensable to the success in
discreet and prudent person to believe that an prosecuting drug-related cases. (People v. Monceda,
offense has been committed by the person sought G.R. No. 176269, November 13, 2013, 709 SCRA
to be arrested. The prosecutor, on the other hand, 355, 370) Informers are almost always never
determines probable cause by ascertaining the presented in court because of the need to preserve
existence of facts sufficient to engender a well- their invaluable service to the police. Unless their
founded belief that a crime has been committed, testimony is absolutely essential to the conviction
and that the respondent is probably guilty thereof. of the accused, their testimony may be dispensed
with since their narrations would be merely
To be sure, in the determination of probable cause corroborative to the testimonies of the buy-bust
for the issuance of a warrant of arrest, the judge is
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
team. (People v. Havana, G.R. No. 198450, January Marshall's person revealed that he was carrying a
11, 2016) loaded gun. After the denial of his motion to
suppress the evidence on the ground that the
The settled rule is that law enforcers are presumed search was illegal, Marshall pleaded guilty to a
to have regularly performed their duties in the federal gun charge. Marshall later appealed and
absence of proof to the contrary. Almoite failed to raised a single issue, whether the gun seized
show that respondents have any reason to arrest incident to his arrest should have been suppressed.
him for no cause or that they were impelled by any In its ruling against Marshall, the United States
unlawful motive to arrest him. As found by the CA, Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit had occasion to
respondents acted in good faith and in the honest discuss that in a circumstance where the police
belief, as based on the information they have mistake a person for someone else they seek to
gathered from their surveillance and intelligence validly arrest, the arrest is constitutional if the
operations which points to Almoite as the same arresting officers (1) have probable cause to arrest
"Ali" being referred to in the warrant of arrest. As the person sought, and (2) reasonably believe that
pointed out by the CA, Almoite goes by different the person arrested is the person sought. In
names or aliases. Nonetheless, he was sufficiently affirming the conviction of Marshall, the court also
identified through a profile as well as a held that the arrest warrant gave the police a
cartographic sketch provided by a detained sufficient basis to arrest Beasley and, taking into
suspected terrorist who pointed to Almoite as the consideration the totality of the circumstances, the
same person who goes by the alias of Ali court found that the actions of the police in
Ambing… in the absence of sufficient evidence to thinking that Marshall was Beasley were
the contrary, respondents are presumed to have reasonable.
regularly performed their duties and that they
acted in good faith and with good In Hill v. California, decided by the United States
motives…Indeed, there is no showing in the Supreme Court, and which was cited in the
present case that, in arresting Almoite, respondents Marshall case, it was held that when the police have
were driven by any motive other than to probable cause to arrest one party, and the
apprehend a suspected bomber who is linked to arresting officers had a reasonable, good-faith
notoriously known terrorist groups. On the belief that the person arrested was in fact the one
contrary, their operation leading to the arrest of being sought for a crime, then the arrest of the
Almoite was based on data gathered through second party is a valid arrest.
intelligence which was later on confirmed when
they recovered several pieces of highly explosive From the foregoing, it is clear that courts upheld
materials from his possession. Indeed, this is a the actions of the police in mistakenly
sufficient validation of their belief in good faith that apprehending a person whom they believe in good
Almoite is the Ali Ambing they were looking for. faith as the one they are seeking for the commission
Even assuming that respondents committed a of a crime. Applying this principle in the instant
mistake in identifying Almoite as the same person case, even granting that respondents mistakenly
referred to as Ali in the warrant of arrest, the fact identified Almoite as Ali, they cannot be held
remains that they have sufficient information to guilty of misconduct for his arrest because they
establish probable cause to arrest Ali as, in fact, a acted in their belief in good faith that Almoite was
warrant for his arrest was issued. indeed Ali. Their act in arresting Almoite was not
proven to be predicated on or attended by
In the case of US. v. Marshall, the police had an corruption, a clear intent to violate the law, or a
arrest warrant for a person named Beasley and, flagrant disregard of established rules. (Office of the
based on information from an informant, Ombudsman v. Brillantes, G.R. No. 213699,
mistakenly arrested a person named Marshall September 28, 2016)
thinking he was Beasley. A subsequent search of
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
Saraum was arrested during the commission of a that he was actually committing a crime in the
crime, which instance does not require a warrant in presence of the police officers who arrested him
accordance with Section 5 (a), Rule 113 of the without a warrant. To repeat, straightforward and
Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure. In arrest in unwavering testimonies were presented by the
flagrante delicto, the accused is apprehended at the prosecution narrating, in detail, how the police
very moment he is committing or attempting to officers personally witnessed the sale by appellant
commit or has just committed an offense in the of the dangerous drug, being actual participants of
presence of the arresting officer. To constitute a the buy-bust operation. Indeed, a buy-bust
valid in flagrante delicto arrest, two requisites must operation is a form of entrapment, in which the
concur: (1) the person to be arrested must execute violator is caught in flagrante delicto and the police
an overt act indicating that he has just committed, officers conducting the operation are not only
is actually committing, or is attempting to commit a authorized, but duty-bound, to apprehend the
crime; and (2) such overt act is done in the presence violator and to search him for anything that may
or within the view of the arresting officer. Here, the have been part of or used in the commission of the
Court is unconvinced with Saraum’s statement that crime. Against the positive testimonies of the
he was not committing a crime at the time of his prosecution witnesses, appellant’s plain denial of
arrest. PO3 Larrobis described in detail how they the offense charged, unsubstantiated by any
were able to apprehend him, who was then holding credible and convincing evidence, must simply fail.
a disposable lighter in his right hand and a tin foil (People v. Dela Cruz, G.R. No. 205414, April 4, 2016)
and a rolled tissue paper in his left hand, while
they were in the course of arresting somebody. The In People v. Agulay, the Court reiterated the rule
case is clearly one of hot pursuit of "Pata," who, in that an arrest made after an entrapment operation
eluding arrest, entered the shanty where Saraum does not require a warrant inasmuch as it is
and Esperanza were incidentally caught in considered a valid "warrantless arrest," in line with
possession of the illegal items. Saraum did not the provisions of Rule 113, Section 5(a) of the
proffer any satisfactory explanation with regard to Revised Rules of Court… (People v. Rivera, G.R. No.
his presence at the vicinity of the buy-bust 208837, July 20, 2016)
operation and his possession of the seized items
that he claims to have "countless, lawful uses." On In any event, appellant was arrested during the
the contrary, the prosecution witnesses have commission of a crime, which instance does not
adequately explained the respective uses of the require a warrant in accordance with Section 5(a) of
items to prove that they were indeed drug Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal
paraphernalia. There is, thus, no necessity to make Procedure. Such arrest is commonly known as in
a laboratory examination and finding as to the flagrante delicto. For a warrantless arrest of an
presence or absence of methamphetamine accused caught in flagrante delicto to be valid, two
hydrochloride or any illegal substances on said requisites must concur: (1) the person to be arrested
items since possession itself is the punishable act. must execute an overt act indicating that he has just
(Saraum v. People, G.R. No. 205472, January 25, committed, is actually committing, or is attempting
2016) to commit a crime; and, (2) such overt act is done in
the presence or within the view of the arresting
In this regard, the Court cannot give credence to officer.
appellant’s insistence on the illegality of his
warrantless arrest due to an alleged absence of any We emphasize that the series of events that led the
overt act on his part positively indicating that he police officers to the place where appellant was
was committing a crime. He asserts that he was when he was arrested was triggered by a phone
merely playing cara y cruz and denies any call from a concerned citizen that someone was
participation in the crime charged… Contrary to indiscriminately firing a gun in the said place.
appellant’s claims, there is overwhelming evidence Under the circumstances, the police officers did not
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
have enough time to secure a warrant considering rushed to Sindac to arrest him. (Sindac v. People,
the "time element" involved in the process. To G.R. No. 220732, September 6, 2016)
obtain a warrant would be impossible to contain
the crime. In view of the urgency of the matter, the Considering that PO3 Peñamora was at a
police officers proceeded to the place. There, PO2 considerable distance away from the alleged
Paras saw appellant, alone in an alley which used criminal transaction (five [5] to ten [10] meters), not
to be a busy place, suspiciously in the act of pulling to mention the atomity of the object thereof (0.04
something from his pocket. Appellant's act of gram of white crystalline substance contained in a
pulling something from his pocket constituted an plastic sachet), the Court finds it highly doubtful
overt manifestation in the mind of PO2 Paras that that said arresting officer was able to reasonably
appellant has just committed or is attempting to ascertain that any criminal activity was afoot so as
commit a crime. There was, therefore, sufficient to prompt him to conduct a lawful in flagrante
probable cause for PO2 Paras to believe that delicto arrest and, thereupon, a warrantless search.
appellant was, then and there, about to draw a gun These similar circumstances were availing in the
from his pocket considering the report he received cases of Comerciante v. People and People v. Villareal
about an indiscriminate firing in the said place. where the Court likewise invalidated the in
Probable cause means an actual belief or reasonable flagrante delcito arrest and ensuing warrantless
ground of suspicion supported by circumstances search. In this relation, it should also be pointed out
sufficiently strong in themselves to warrant a that no criminal overt act could be properly
cautious man to believe that a crime has been attributed to Sindac so as to rouse any reasonable
committed or about to be committed. suspicion in the mind of either PO3 Peñamora or
PO1 Asis that Sindac had just committed, was
Thus, thinking there was a concealed weapon committing, or was about to commit a crime.
inside appellant's pocket and as precautionary Sindac's actuations of talking to and later on,
measure, PO2 Paras (who was three or four meters receiving an unidentified object from Cañon,
away from appellant) immediately introduced without more, should not be considered as ongoing
himself as a police officer, held appellant's arm, criminal activity that would render proper an in
and asked the latter to pull his hand out. flagrante delicto arrest under Section 5 (a), Rule 113
Incidentally, appellant was holding a plastic sachet of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. (Sindac
containing white crystalline substance. PO2 Paras v. People, G.R. No. 220732, September 6, 2016)
then confiscated the plastic sachet from appellant,
informed him of his constitutional rights, and …it is, in fact, quite perceivable that PO3 Peñamora
arrested him. When an accused is caught in and PO1 Asis had proceeded to apprehend Sindac
flagrante delicto, the police officers are not only solely on account of information retrieved from
authorized, but are duty- bound, to arrest him even previous surveillance operations conducted on
without a warrant. And considering that Sindac's alleged drug dealing activities. Advancing
appellant's arrest was legal, the search and seizure to a warrantless arrest based only on such
that resulted from it were likewise lawful. (People v. information, absent circumstances that would lead
Badilla, G.R. No. 218578, August 31, 2016) to the arresting officer's "personal knowledge" as
described in case law, unfortunately, skews from
In this case, the Court finds that there could have the exacting requirements of Section 5, Rule 113. It
been no lawful warrantless arrest made on the is settled that "reliable information" alone - even if
person of Sindac. Based on the records, the it was a product of well-executed surveillance
arresting officer, PO3 Peñamora, himself admitted operations - is not sufficient to justify a warrantless
that he was about five (5) to ten (10) meters away arrest. It is further required that the accused
from Sindac and Cañon when the latter allegedly performs some overt act that would indicate that he
handed a plastic sachet to the former. Suspecting has committed, is actually committing, or is
that the sachet contained shabu, he and PO1 Asis attempting to commit an offense, which, as already
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
discussed, is missing in the instant case. (Sindac v. participated in the proceedings before
People, G.R. No. 220732, September 6, 2016) the trial court. In effect, he is deemed to
have waived any perceived defect in his
Accused-appellant Devincio insists that his arrest and effectively submitted himself
to the jurisdiction of the court trying his
warrantless arrest was illegal for not falling under
case. At any rate, the illegal arrest of an
the permissible warrantless arrests enumerated in accused is not sufficient cause for setting
Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules of Court. This being aside a valid judgment rendered upon a
the case, accused-appellant Devincio says, the RTC sufficient complaint after a trial free
had no jurisdiction to render judgment over his from error. It will not even negate the
person. He also claims that there was no showing validity of the conviction of the accused.
that he was informed of his Constitutional rights at (Citations omitted.)
the time of his arrest and his rights under Sections
2 and 3 of Republic Act No. 7438 during The foregoing ruling squarely applies to accused-
investigation. appellants Devincio and Vicente who failed to raise
their allegations before their arraignment. They
As the Court of Appeals has already pointed out, actively participated in the trial and posited their
that accused-appellant Devincio raised none of defenses without mentioning the alleged illegality
these issues anytime during the course of his trial. of their warrantless arrests. They are deemed to
These issues were raised for the first time on appeal have waived their right to question their arrests.
before the Court of Appeals. We affirm the ruling (People v. Lugnasin, G.R. No. 208404, February 24,
of the Court of Appeals and quote below Miclat, Jr. 2016)
v. People on this Court’s treatment of an accused’s
belated allegation of the illegality of his warrantless We point out at the outset that Gomez did not
arrest: question before arraignment the legality of her
warrantless arrest or the acquisition of RTC's
At the outset, it is apparent that jurisdiction over her person. Thus, Gomez is
petitioner raised no objection to the deemed to have waived any objection to her
irregularity of his arrest before his warrantless arrest. It is settled that [a]ny objection
arraignment. Considering this and his to the procedure followed in the matter of the
active participation in the trial of the acquisition by a court of jurisdiction over the
case, jurisprudence dictates that
person of the accused must be opportunely raised
petitioner is deemed to have submitted
before he enters his plea; otherwise, the objection is
to the jurisdiction of the trial court,
thereby curing any defect in his arrest. deemed waived… At any rate, the illegal arrest of
An accused is estopped from assailing an accused is not sufficient cause for setting aside a
any irregularity of his arrest if he fails to valid judgment rendered upon a sufficient
raise this issue or to move for the complaint after a trial free from error. Simply put,
quashal of the information against him the illegality of the warrantless arrest cannot
on this ground before arraignment. Any deprive the State of its right to prosecute the guilty
objection involving a warrant of arrest when all other facts on record point to their
or the procedure by which the court culpability. It is much too late in the day to
acquired jurisdiction over the person of
complain about the warrantless arrest after a valid
the accused must be made before he
information had been filed, the accused had been
enters his plea; otherwise, the objection
is deemed waived. arraigned, the trial had commenced and had been
completed, and a judgment of conviction had been
In the present case, at the time of rendered against her. (People v. Pepino, G.R. No.
petitioner’s arraignment, there was no 174471, January 12, 2016)
objection raised as to the irregularity of
his arrest. Thereafter, he actively
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
Any objection involving a warrant of arrest or the criminal process designed to respond to an incident
procedure by which the court acquired jurisdiction in the main case, if one has been instituted, or in
over the person of the accused must be made anticipation thereof. The power to issue SW is
before he enters his plea; otherwise, the objection is inherent in all courts, such that the power of courts
deemed waived… Furthermore, even granting that to issue SWs where the place to be searched is
indeed there has been an irregularity in the arrest within their jurisdiction is not intended to exclude
of the appellant, it is deemed cured by his other courts from exercising the same power.
voluntary submission to the jurisdiction of the trial
court over his person. Thus, appellant is deemed to In addition, SW shall be issued only upon probable
have waived his constitutional protection against cause personally determined by the judge after
illegal arrest when he actively participated in the examination under oath or affirmation of the
arraignment and trial of this case. (People v. complainant and the witnesses he may produce,
Gaborne, G.R. No. 210710, July 27, 2016) and particularly describing the place to be
searched, and the persons or things to be seized. In
We stress, at the outset, that appellant failed to turn, probable cause for SW refers to such "facts
question the legality of his arrest before he entered and circumstances which would lead a reasonably
his plea. The established rule is that an accused discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense
may be estopped from assailing the legality of his has been committed and that the objects sought in
arrest if he failed to move for the quashing of the connection with the offense are in the place to be
Information against him before his arraignment. searched." (Petron Gasul LPG Dealers Association v.
Any objection involving the arrest or the procedure Lao, G.R. No. 205010, July 18, 2016)
in the court's acquisition of jurisdiction over the
person of an accused must be made before he enters Generally, the SW application must be filed with
his plea; otherwise, the objection is deemed waived. the court which has territorial jurisdiction over the
Thus, appellant is deemed to have waived any place where the offense was alleged to be
objection thereto since he voluntarily submitted committed. This, however, is not an iron-clad rule.
himself to the jurisdiction of the court when he For compelling reasons, which must be expressly
entered a plea of not guilty during the arraignment, stated in the application, an SW application may be
and thereafter actively participated in the trial. He filed in a court other than the one having
even entered into a stipulation, during the pre-trial jurisdiction over the place where the purported
of the case, admitting the jurisdiction of the trial offense was committed and where the SW shall be
court over his person. (People v. Badilla, G.R. No. enforced. (Petron Gasul LPG Dealers Association v.
218578, August 31, 2016) Lao, G.R. No. 205010, July 18, 2016)

Searches and Seizure In People v. Chiu, the Court sustained the issuance
of SW against therein appellant even if the SW was
A search warrant (SW) is defined as a written order issued by RTC Pasay, and not RTC-Quezon City,
issued in the name of the People of the Philippines, which has jurisdiction over the place where the SW
signed by a judge, and directed to a peace officer would be enforced. Among the compelling reasons
commanding him to search for the personal enumerated therein were the possibility of
property described therein and bring it to the court. appellant's removal of the subject items therein,
and the possibility that SW application may come
In Malaloan v. Court of Appeals, the Court held that to the knowledge of appellant and his co-accused
the requisites, procedure and purpose for SW rendering its enforcement a useless effort.
issuance are totally different from those of a
criminal action. It stressed that the application for The foregoing reasons, aside from the above-
and issuance of a SW is not a criminal action but a discussed urgency of time, were also cited as
judicial process, more particularly, a special compelling reasons in this case. The Court
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
reiterates that RTC-La Trinidad took cognizance of which would lead a reasonably discreet
and initially granted the SWs against respondents and prudent man to believe that an
based on its determination of probable cause as offense has been committed and that the
well as its finding of compelling reasons in the objects sought in connection with the
offense are in the place sought to be
applications. To our mind, to later on quash the
searched. A finding of probable cause
SWs on the ground that the applicant failed to needs only to rest on evidence showing
prove compelling reasons is a mere afterthought that, more likely than not, a crime has
and cannot defeat its initial finding that that there been committed and that it was
are indeed good and sufficient justifications for the committed by the accused. Probable
SWs against respondents. cause demands more than bare
suspicion; it requires less than evidence
Simply put, to quash SW Nos. 05-72 and 05-73 which would justify conviction. The
against respondents on a belated view that no judge, in determining probable cause, is
compelling reason was established, is to disregard to consider the totality of the
circumstances made known to him and
established facts, which facts include - the required
not by a fixed and rigid formula, and
statement of compelling reasons in the must employ a flexible, totality of the
applications; Lising's Affidavit and the searching circumstances standard. xxx.
questions and answers supporting this statement;
and, the RTC-La Trinidad's own finding of Petitioners claim that respondents are engaged in
probable cause and compelling reasons in its initial the illegal trading and refilling of Shellane, Gasul,
grant of SWs against respondents. When it reversed Totalgaz, Starflame, and Superkalan Gaz LPG
itself, the RTC-La Trinidad ignored clear dictates of cylinders, as they were not authorized dealers or
reason; therefore, its quashal of the SWs against refillers of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation,
respondents cannot be sustained. Petron Gasul Corporation, Total (Philippines)
Corporation, Caltex, and Superkalan Gaz
Given these, the CA erred in affirming the RTC-La Corporation. Additionally, they accuse respondents
Trinidad Orders granting the Motion to Quash SW of underfilling LPG cylinders. To prove illegal
Nos. 05-72 and 05-73 against respondents. (Petron trading and refilling, they presented written
Gasul LPG Dealers Association v. Lao, G.R. No. certifications to the effect that Nation Gas was not
205010, July 18, 2016) an authorized LPG refiller of Pilipinas Shell
Petroleum Corporation, Petron Gasul Corporation,
In Del Castillo v. People, the relevant principles Total (Philippines) Corporation, Caltex, and
governing the issuance of a search warrant were Superkalan Gaz Corporation. And to prove
discussed, as follows: underfilling, they presented photographs as well as
the results of an examination of the refilled
The requisites for the issuance of a Starflame LPG cylinder obtained through De
search warrant are: (1) probable cause is
Jemil’s test-buy.
present; (2) such probable cause must be
determined personally by the judge; (3)
the judge must examine, in writing and The Court finds the evidence presented sufficient
under oath or affirmation, the to prove probable cause; the issuing court and the
complainant and the witnesses he or she CA thus patently erred in quashing the search
may produce; (4) the applicant and the warrants. Where the findings of fact of the CA are
witnesses testify on the facts personally premised on the supposed absence of evidence and
known to them; and (5) the warrant contradicted by the evidence on record, the same
specifically describes the place to be cannot bind this Court. (Petro LPG Dealers’
searched and the things to be seized. xxx
Association v. Ang, G.R. No. 199371, February 3,
Probable cause for a search warrant is
defined as such facts and circumstances

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
Thus, applying Ty in its entirety to the present case, based on the personal knowledge of the applicant
the Court finds that there exists probable cause for and his witnesses. This is the substantive
the issuance of search warrants as applied for by requirement for the issuance of a search warrant.
petitioners. Probable cause for purposes of issuing Procedurally, the determination of probable cause
a search warrant refers to "such facts and is a personal task of the judge before whom the
circumstances which could lead a reasonably application for search warrant is filed, as he has to
discreet and prudent man to believe that an offense examine the applicant and his or her witnesses in
has been committed and that the item(s), article(s) the form of "searching questions and answers" in
or object(s) sought in connection with said offense writing and under oath. The warrant, if issued,
or subject to seizure and destruction by law is in must particularly describe the place to be searched
the place to be searched." On the other hand, and the things to be seized.
probable cause for purposes of filing a criminal
information refers to "such facts as are sufficient to In the issuance of a search warrant, probable cause
engender a well-founded belief that a crime has requires such facts and circumstances which would
been committed and that respondents are probably lead a reasonably discrete and prudent man to
guilty thereof. It is such set of facts and believe that an offense has been committed and
circumstances which would lead a reasonably that the objects sought in connection with the
discreet and prudent man to believe mat the offense are in the place sought to be searched. In
offense charged in the Information, or any offense People v. Punzalan, we held that there is no exact
included therein, has been committed by the test for the determination of probable cause in the
person sought to be arrested." Thus, while Ty refers issuance of search warrants. It is a matter wholly
to preliminary investigation proceedings, and the dependent on the finding of trial judges in the
instant case is concerned with applications for the process of exercising their judicial function.
issuance of search warrants, both are resolved
based on the same degree of proof; the Here, the records show that the applicants for the
pronouncement in Ty may therefore apply to the search warrant and their witnesses were able to
present controversy. . (Petro LPG Dealers’ sufficiently convince the judge of the existence of
Association v. Ang, G.R. No. 199371, February 3, probable cause based on their own personal
2016) knowledge, or what they have actually seen and
observed, in Visayan Forum's premises. The NBI
On the claim of lack of personal knowledge, the Agents related to the RTC how they entered
Court subscribes to petitioners' argument that facts Visayan Forum, in the guise of representing
discovered during surveillance conducted by De themselves as part of the audit team of B.F. Medina
Jemil and Antonio - on the basis of information and and Company. The NBI Agents personally saw that
evidence provided by petitioners - constitute Visayan Forum's employees and occupants altered
personal knowledge which could form the basis for and fabricated documents and official receipts
the issuance of a search warrant. Indeed, as was covered by USAID funding. They even
declared in Cupcupin v. People, which petitioners photocopied some documents and receipts proving
cite, the surveillance and investigation conducted such fabrication. Also, the NBI Agents were able to
by an agent of the NBI obtained from confidential particularly describe Visayan Forum's premises,
information supplied to him enabled him to gain exactly locating the place to be searched with
personal knowledge of the illegal activities sketches of the buildings and various floors and
complained of. (Petro LPG Dealers’ Association v. rooms. Further, they described in great detail the
Ang, G.R. No. 199371, February 3, 2016) things that were seized documents, receipts, books
of account and records, and computers used by
To paraphrase this rule, a search warrant may be Visayan Forum's employees.
issued only if there is probable cause in connection
with a specific offense alleged in an application Likewise, the NBI Agents' witnesses, Villacorte and
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
Aguilar, were able to substantiate the statements Judge Cabochan personally examined NBI Agents
and allegations of the NBI Agents by testifying on Villasfer and Mercado, the applicants for the search
what they have personally seen and experienced warrant, as well as their witnesses, Villacorte and
while working in Visayan Forum, and how they Aguilar. The interrogations conducted by the trial
came to know that fraud was being perpetrated by judge showed that the applicants and their
the company. Thus, the applicants' and their witnesses had personal knowledge of the offense
witnesses' testimonies, together with the affidavits petitioners committed or were then committing.
they [presented, are adequate proof to establish The judge properly asked how the applicants came
that there exists probable cause to issue the search to know of the falsification, where it was
warrant for violation of Article 172(2) of the committed, what was involved, the extent of their
Revised Penal Code. participation, and what they have seen and
observed inside Visayan Forum's premises. We
In Century Chinese Medicine Co. v. People, we held believe that the questions propounded on them
that the determination of probable cause does not were searching and probing. The trial judge made
call for the application of rules and standards of an independent assessment of the evidence
proof that a judgment of conviction requires after submitted and concluded that the evidence
trial on the merits. As implied by the words adduced and the testimonies of the witnesses
themselves, "probable cause" is concerned with support a finding of probable cause which
probability, not absolute or even moral certainty. warranted the issuance of a search warrant for
The prosecution need not present at this stage violation of Article 172(2) of the Revised Penal
proof beyond reasonable doubt. Code. (Oebanda v. People, G.R. No. 208137, June 8,
When a finding of probable cause for the issuance
of a search warrant is made by a trial judge, the Dela Cruz then proceeded to the entrance of the terminal
finding is accorded respect by the reviewing courts. and placed his bag on the x-ray scanning machine for
Here, in issuing the search warrant, Judge inspection. The operator of the x-ray machine saw
Cabochan sufficiently complied with the firearms inside Dela Cruz’s bag. Cutie Pie Flores
requirements set by the Constitution and the Rules (Flores) was the x-ray machine operator-on-duty on
of Court. Therefore, we find nothing irregular. May 11, 2007. She saw the impression of what appeared
(Oebanda v. People, G.R. No. 208137, June 8, 2016) to be three (3) firearms inside Dela Cruz’s bag. Upon
seeing the suspected firearms, she called the attention of
In an application for search warrant, the mandate port personnel Archie Igot (Igot) who was the baggage
of the judge is for him to conduct a full and inspector then. Igot asked Dela Cruz whether he was the
searching examination of the complainant and the owner of the bag. Dela Cruz answered Igot in the
witnesses he may produce. The searching questions affirmative and consented to Igot’s manual inspection of
propounded to the applicant and the witnesses the bag.
must depend on a large extent upon the discretion
of the judge. Although there is no hard-and-fast Routine baggage inspections conducted by port
rule as to how a judge may conduct his authorities, although done without search
examination, it is axiomatic that the said warrants, are not unreasonable searches per se.
examination must be probing and exhaustive and Constitutional provisions protecting privacy
not merely routinary, general, peripheral or should not be so literally understood so as to deny
perfunctory. He must make his own inquiry on the reasonable safeguards to ensure the safety of the
intent and factual and legal justifications for a traveling public. (De la Cruz v. People, G.R. No.
search warrant. The questions should not merely be 209387, January 11, 2016)
repetitious of the averments stated in the
affidavits/deposition of the applicant and the The first point of intrusion occurred when
witnesses. xxx. Clearly, the records show that petitioner presented his bag for inspection to port
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
personnel—the x-ray machine operator and within the ambit of alleged unlawful
baggage inspector manning the x-ray machine intrusion by the government.
station. With regard to searches and seizures, the
standard imposed on private persons is different Hence, by virtue of Marti, items seized pursuant to
from that imposed on state agents or authorized a reasonable search conducted by private persons
government authorities. are not covered by the exclusionary rule. (Id. at 58.
See Stonehill, et al. v. Diokno, et al., 126 Phil. 738
In People v. Marti (271 Phil. 51 [1991]); the private (1967) [Per C.J. Concepcion, En Banc], De la Cruz v.
forwarding and shipping company, following People, G.R. No. 209387, January 11, 2016)
standard operating procedure, opened packages
sent by accused Andre Marti for shipment to The Cebu Port Authority has adopted security
Zurich, Switzerland and detected a peculiar odor measures imposed by the Office for Transportation
from the packages. The representative from the Security, including the National Security
company found dried marijuana leaves in the Programme for Sea Transport and Maritime
packages. He reported the matter to the National Infrastructure.
Bureau of Investigation and brought the samples to
the Narcotics Section of the Bureau for laboratory The Cebu Port Authority is clothed with authority
examination. Agents from the National Bureau of by the state to oversee the security of persons and
Investigation subsequently took custody of the vehicles within its ports. While there is a distinction
illegal drugs. Andre Marti was charged with and between port personnel and port police officers in
was found guilty of violating Republic Act No. this case, considering that port personnel are not
6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs necessarily law enforcers, both should be
Act. considered agents of government under Article III
of the Constitution. The actions of port personnel
This court held that there was no unreasonable during routine security checks at ports have the
search or seizure. The evidence obtained against color of a state-related function.
the accused was not procured by the state acting
through its police officers or authorized xxx People v. Malngan (534 Phil. 404 (2006) [Per J.
government agencies. The Bill of Rights does not Chico-Nazario, En Banc]. This case applied the
govern relationships between individuals; it cannot ruling in Marti on the inapplicability of the Bill of
be invoked against the acts of private individuals: Rights against private individuals. However, it
found that barangay tanod and the Barangay
If the search is made upon the request of Chairman are law enforcement officers for
law enforcers, a warrant must generally purposes of applying Article III, Section 12(1) and
be first secured if it is to pass the test of (3) of the Constitution. Barangay tanod and the
constitutionality. However, if the search Barangay Chairman were deemed as law
is made at the behest or initiative of the enforcement officers for purposes of applying
proprietor of a private establishment for Article III of the Constitution. In People v. Lauga
its own and private purposes, as in the
(629 Phil. 522 [2010]), this court held that a "bantay
case at bar, and without the intervention
of police authorities, the right against
bayan," in relation to the authority to conduct a
unreasonable search and seizure cannot custodial investigation under Article III, Section 12
be invoked for only the act of private of the Constitution, "has the color of a state-related
individual, not the law enforcers, is function and objective insofar as the entitlement of
involved. In sum, the protection against a suspect to his constitutional rights[.]"
unreasonable searches and seizures
cannot be extended to acts committed Thus, with port security personnel’s functions
by private individuals so as to bring it having the color of state-related functions and
deemed agents of government, Marti is
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
inapplicable in the present case. Nevertheless, valid search are thus admissible as
searches pursuant to port security measures are not evidence against appellant. (Citations
unreasonable per se. The security measures of x-ray omitted)
scanning and inspection in domestic ports are akin
to routine security procedures in airports. The reason behind it is that there is a reasonable
reduced expectation of privacy when coming into
In People v. Suzuki (G.R. No. 120670, October 23, airports or ports of travel:
2003, 414 SCRA 43), the accused "entered the pre-
departure area of the Bacolod Airport Terminal." Persons may lose the protection of the search
and seizure clause by exposure of their
He was "bound for Manila via flight No. 132 of the
persons or property to the public in a
Philippine Airlines and was carrying a small manner reflecting a lack of subjective
traveling bag and a box marked ‘Bongbong’s expectation of privacy, which expectation
piaya.’" The accused "proceeded to the ‘walk- society is prepared to recognize as
through metal detector,’ a machine which produces reasonable. Such recognition is implicit in
a red light and an alarm once it detects the presence airport security procedures. With
of metallic substance or object." "Thereupon, the increased concern over airplane
red light switched on and the alarm sounded, hijacking and terrorism has come
increased security at the nation’s
signifying the presence of metallic substance either
airports. Passengers attempting to board
in his person or in the box he was carrying." When
an aircraft routinely pass through metal
the accused was asked to open the content of the detectors; their carry-on baggage as well
box, he answered "open, open." Several packs of as checked luggage are routinely
dried marijuana fruiting tops were then found subjected to x-ray scans. Should these
inside the box. Suzuki argued that the box was only procedures suggest the presence of
given to him as "pasalubong" by a certain Pinky, suspicious objects, physical searches are
whom he had sexual relations with the night conducted to determine what the objects are.
before. He did not know the contents of the box. There is little question that such
searches are reasonable, given their
minimal intrusiveness, the gravity of the
This court in Suzuki found that the search safety interests involved, and the
conducted on the accused was a valid exception to reduced privacy expectations associated
the prohibition against warrantless searches as it with airline travel. Indeed, travelers are
was pursuant to a routine airport security often notified through airport public address
procedure: systems, signs and notices in their airline
tickets that they are subject to search and, if
It is axiomatic that a reasonable search is any prohibited materials or substances are
not to be determined by any fixed found, such would be subject to seizure.
formula but is to be resolved according These announcements place passengers on
to the facts of each case. Given the notice that ordinary constitutional
circumstances obtaining here, we find protections against warrantless searches and
the search conducted by the airport seizures do not apply to routine airport
authorities reasonable and, therefore, procedures. (Emphasis supplied, citations
not violative of his constitutional rights. omitted)
Hence, when the search of the box of
piaya revealed several marijuana fruiting This rationale was reiterated more recently in Sales
tops, appellant is deemed to have been v. People.( G.R. No. 191023, February 6, 2013, 690
caught in flagrante delicto, justifying his SCRA 141) This court in Sales upheld the validity of
arrest even without a warrant under the search conducted as part of the routine security
Section 5(a), Rule 113 of the Rules of check at the old Manila Domestic Airport—now
Criminal Procedure. The packs of Terminal 1 of the Ninoy Aquino International
marijuana obtained in the course of such Airport.
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
It may be argued that the seeming
Port authorities were acting within their duties and acquiescence of Arellano to the search
functions when it used x-ray scanning machines for constitutes an implied waiver of
inspection of passengers’ bags. When the results of petitioner’s right to question the
reasonableness of the search of the
the x-ray scan revealed the existence of firearms in
vehicle and the seizure of the firearms.
the bag, the port authorities had probable cause to
conduct a search of petitioner’s bag. Notably,
While Resolution No. 2327 authorized
petitioner did not contest the results of the x-ray the setting up of checkpoints, it however
scan. (De la Cruz v. People, G.R. No. 209387, January stressed that "guidelines shall be made
11, 2016) to ensure that no infringement of civil
and political rights results from the
It is not too burdensome to be considered as an implementation of this authority," and
affront to an ordinary person’s right to travel if that "the places and manner of setting
weighed against the safety of all passengers and up of checkpoints shall be determined in
the security in the port facility. xxx. Any perceived consultation with the Committee on
Firearms Ban and Security Personnel
curtailment of liberty due to the presentation of
created under Sec. 5, Resolution No.
person and effects for port security measures is a
2323." The facts show that PNP installed
permissible intrusion to privacy when measured the checkpoint at about five o’clock in
against the possible harm to society caused by the afternoon of 13 January 1992. The
lawless persons. (De la Cruz v. People, G.R. No. search was made soon thereafter, or
209387, January 11, 2016) thirty minutes later. It was not shown
that news of impending checkpoints
Similar to the accused in People v. Kagui Malasugui without necessarily giving their
(63 Phil. 221 (1936) [Per J. Diaz, En Banc], citing I locations, and the reason for the same
THOMAS COOLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL have been announced in the media to
forewarn the citizens. Nor did the
LIMITATIONS 631 [8th ed.]) and People v.
informal checkpoint that afternoon carry
Omaweng (G.R. No. 99050, September 2, 1992, 213 signs informing the public of the
SCRA 462, 470–471) who permitted authorities to purpose of its operation. As a result,
search their persons and premises without a motorists passing that place did not have
warrant, petitioner is now precluded from claiming any inkling whatsoever about the reason
an invalid warrantless search when he voluntarily behind the instant exercise. With the
submitted to the search on his person. In addition, authorities in control to stop and search
petitioner’s consent to the search at the domestic passing vehicles, the motorists did not have
any choice but to submit to the PNP’s
port was not given under intimidating or coercive
scrutiny. Otherwise, any attempt to
circumstances. (See Caballes v. Court of Appeals, 424 turnabout albeit innocent would raise
Phil. 263, 289 [2002]) suspicion and provide probable cause for the
police to arrest the motorist and to conduct
This case should be differentiated from that of an extensive search of his vehicle.
Aniag, Jr. v. Commission on Elections (G.R. No.
104961, October 7, 1994, 237 SCRA 424), which In the case of petitioner, only his driver
involved the search of a moving vehicle at a was at the car at that time it was
checkpoint. In that case, there was no implied stopped for inspection. As conceded by
acquiescence to the search since the checkpoint set COMELEC, driver Arellano did not
know the purpose of the checkpoint. In
up by the police authorities was conducted without
the face of fourteen (14) armed
proper consultation, and it left motorists without policemen conducting the operation,
any choice except to subject themselves to the driver Arellano being alone and a mere
checkpoint: employee of petitioner could not have
marshalled the strength and the courage
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
to protest against the extensive search the Tariff and Customs Code to enter,
conducted in the vehicle. In such pass through or search any land,
scenario, the "implied acquiescence," if inclosure, warehouse, store or building,
there was any, could not be more than a not being a dwelling house; and also to
mere passive conformity on Arellano’s inspect, search and examine any vessel
part to the search, and "consent" given or aircraft and any trunk, package, box
under intimidating or coercive or envelope or any person on board, or
circumstances is no consent within the stop and search and examine any
purview of the constitutional guaranty. vehicle, beast or person suspected of
(Emphasis supplied, citations omitted) holding or conveying any dutiable or
prohibited article introduced into the
We also cannot subscribe to petitioner’s argument Philippines contrary to law, without
that there was no valid consent to the search mentioning the need of a search warrant
because his consent was premised on his belief that in said cases. (Citation omitted)
there were no prohibited items in his bag. The
defendant’s belief that no incriminating evidence The ruling in Papa was echoed in Salvador v. People
would be found does not automatically negate (502 Phil. 60 [2005]), in that the state’s policy to
valid consent to the search when incriminating combat smuggling must not lose to the difficulties
items are found. His or her belief must be posed by the debate on whether the state has the
measured against the totality of the circumstances. duty to accord constitutional protection to dutiable
(See Caballes v. Court of Appeals, 424 Phil. 263, 286 articles on which duty has not been paid, as with a
[2002]) Again, petitioner voluntarily submitted person’s papers and/or effects.
himself to port security measures and, as he
claimed during trial, he was familiar with the Hence, to be a valid customs search, the
security measures since he had been traveling back requirements are: (1) the person/s conducting the
and forth through the sea port. search was/were exercising police authority under
customs law; (2) the search was for the enforcement
Consequently, we find respondent’s argument that of customs law; and (3) the place searched is not a
the present petition falls under a valid consented dwelling place or house. Here, the facts reveal that
search and during routine port security procedures the search was part of routine port security
meritorious. The search conducted on petitioner’s measures. The search was not conducted by
bag is valid. (De la Cruz v. People, G.R. No. 209387, persons authorized under customs law. It was also
January 11, 2016) not motivated by the provisions of the Tariff and
Customs Code or other customs laws. Although
The consented search conducted on petitioner’s bag customs searches usually occur within ports or
is different from a customs search. terminals, it is important that the search must be
for the enforcement of customs laws. (De la Cruz v.
People, G.R. No. 209387, January 11, 2016)
Customs searches, as exception to the requirement
of a valid search warrant, are allowed when
"persons exercising police authority under the The valid warrantless arrest gave the officers the
customs law . . . effect search and seizure . . . in the right to search the shanty for objects relating to the
enforcement of customs laws." (Papa, et al. v. Mago, crime and seize the drug paraphernalia they found.
et al., 130 Phil. 886, 902 [1968]) The Tariff and In the course of their lawful intrusion, they
Customs Code provides the authority for such inadvertently saw the various drug paraphernalia.
warrantless search, as this court ruled in Papa, et al. As these items were plainly visible, the police
v. Mago, et al.: officers were justified in seizing them. Considering
that Saraum’s arrest was legal, the search and
The Code authorizes persons having seizure that resulted from it were likewise lawful.
police authority under Section 2203 of The various drug paraphernalia that the police
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
officers found and seized in the shanty are,
therefore, admissible in evidence for having One of the recognized exceptions to the need of a
proceeded from a valid search and seizure. Since warrant before a search may be effected is a search
the confiscated drug paraphernalia are the very incidental to a lawful arrest. In this instance, the
corpus delicti of the crime charged, the Court has no law requires that there first be a lawful arrest
choice but to sustain the judgment of conviction. before a search can be made — the process cannot
(Saraum v. People, G.R. No. 205472, January 25, be reversed. (People v. Manago, G.R. No. 212340,
2016) August 17, 2016)

Even if We consider the arrest as invalid, Saraum is In this case, records reveal that at around 9:30 in
deemed to have waived any objection thereto when the evening of March 15, 2007, PO3 Din personally
he did not raise the issue before entering his plea. witnessed a robbery incident while he was waiting
"The established rule is that an accused may be for his turn to have a haircut at Jonas Borces Beauty
estopped from assailing the legality of his arrest if Parlor. After his brief shootout with the armed
he failed to move for the quashing of the robbers, the latter fled using a motorcycle and a red
Information against him before his arraignment. Toyota Corolla. Through an investigation and
Any objection involving the arrest or the procedure verification made by the police officers headed by
in the court's acquisition of jurisdiction over the PO3 Din and S/Insp. Ylanan, they were able to: (a)
person of an accused must be made before he enters find out that the armed robbers were staying in
his plea; otherwise the objection is deemed waived." Barangay Del Rio Pit-os; and (b) trace the getaway
In this case, counsel for Saraum manifested its vehicles to Manago. The next day, or on March 16,
objection to the admission of the seized drug 2007, the police officers set up a checkpoint in Sitio
paraphernalia, invoking illegal arrest and search, Panagdait where, at around 9:30 in the evening, the
only during the formal offer of evidence by the red Toyota Corolla being driven by Manago passed
prosecution. (Saraum v. People, G.R. No. 205472, by and was intercepted by the police officers. The
January 25, 2016) police officers then ordered Manago to disembark
the car, and from there, proceeded to search the
In Microsoft Corp. v. Maxicorp, Inc., we held that the vehicle and the body of Manago, which search
pivotal issue of whether there was probable cause yielded the plastic sachet containing shabu.
to issue the search warrant is a question of fact. In Thereupon, they effected Manago's arrest.
the present case, the resolution of this issue would
require this Court to inquire into the probative The foregoing circumstances show that while the
value of the evidence presented before the RTC. element of personal knowledge under Section 5 (b)
Petitioners have raised an argument that requires above was present - given that PO3 Din actually
us to make an examination of the transcript of saw the March 15, 2007 robbery incident and even
stenographic notes taken during the search warrant engaged the armed robbers in a shootout - the
proceedings. This is exactly the situation which required element of immediacy was not met. This
Section 1, Rule 45 of the Rules of Court prohibits by is because, at the time the police officers effected
requiring the petition to raise only questions of law. the warrantless arrest upon Manago's person,
Because this Court is not a trier of facts, a re- investigation and verification proceedings were
examination of factual findings cannot be done already conducted, which consequently yielded
through a petition for review on certiorari under sufficient information on the suspects of the March
Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. This Court is not 15, 2007 robbery incident. As the Court sees it, the
duty-bound to analyze and weigh again the information the police officers had gathered
evidence considered in the RTC. Further, this case therefrom would have been enough for them to
does not fall under any of the exceptions laid down secure the necessary warrants against the robbery
in the Rules. (Oebanda v. People, G.R. No. 208137, suspects. However, they opted to conduct a "hot
June 8, 2016) pursuit" operation which - considering the lack of
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
immediacy - unfortunately failed to meet the legal of the locality or jurisdiction in which
requirements therefor. Thus, there being no valid the warrant must be sought. Searches
warrantless arrest under the "hot pursuit" doctrine, without warrant of automobiles is also
the CA erred in ruling that Manago was lawfully allowed for the purpose of preventing
violations of smuggling or immigration
laws, provided such searches are made
at borders or "constructive borders" like
In view of the finding that there was no lawful checkpoints near the boundary lines of
arrest in this case, the CA likewise erred in ruling the State.40 (Emphases and underscoring
that the incidental search on Manago's vehicle and supplied)
body was valid. In fact, the said search was made
even before he was arrested and thus, violated the A variant of searching moving vehicles without a
cardinal rule on searches incidental to lawful warrant may entail the setup of military or police
arrests that there first be a lawful arrest before a checkpoints - as in this case - which, based on
search can be made. jurisprudence, are not illegal per se for as long as
its necessity is justified by the exigencies of
For another, the Court similarly finds the RTC's public order and conducted in a way least
ruling that the police officers conducted a lawful intrusive to motorists. Case law further states that
warrantless search of a moving vehicle on routine inspections in checkpoints are not regarded
Manago's red Toyota Corolla untenable. as violative of an individual's right against
unreasonable searches, and thus, permissible, if
In Caballes v. People, the Court explained the limited to the following: (a) where the officer
concept of warrantless searches on moving merely draws aside the curtain of a vacant vehicle
vehicles: which is parked on the public fair grounds; (b)
simply looks into a vehicle; (c) flashes a light
Highly regulated by the government, therein without opening the car's doors; (d) where
the vehicle's inherent mobility reduces the occupants are not subjected to a physical or
expectation of privacy especially when body search; (e) where the inspection of the
its transit in public thoroughfares Vehicles is limited to a visual search or visual
furnishes a highly reasonable suspicion
inspection; and (e) where the routine check is
amounting to probable cause that the
occupant committed a criminal activity.
conducted in a fixed area.
Thus, the rules governing search and
seizure have over the years been It is well to clarify, however, that routine
steadily liberalized whenever a inspections do not give police officers carte blanche
moving vehicle is the object of the discretion to conduct warrantless searches in the
search on the basis of practicality. This absence of probable cause. When a vehicle is
is so considering that before a warrant stopped and subjected to an extensive search - as
could be obtained, the place, things and opposed to a mere routine inspection - such a
persons to be searched must be
warrantless search has been held to be valid only as
described to the satisfaction of the
issuing judge - a requirement which
long as the officers conducting the search have
borders on the impossible in the case of reasonable or probable cause to believe before the
smuggling effected by the use of a search that they will find the instrumentality or
moving vehicle that can transport evidence pertaining to a crime, in the vehicle to be
contraband from one place to another searched.
with impunity. We might add that a
warrantless search of a moving vehicle In the case at bar, it should be reiterated that the
is justified on the ground that it is not police officers had already conducted a thorough
practicable to secure a warrant because
investigation and verification proceedings, which
the vehicle can be quickly moved out
yielded, among others: (a) the identities of the
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
robbery suspects; (b) the place where they reside;
and (c) the ownership of the getaway vehicles used In this light and as will be explained hereunder, the
in the robbery, i.e., the motorcycle and the red Court is of the view that Bulauitan's conviction
Toyota Corolla. As adverted to earlier, these pieces must be set aside.
of information were already enough for said police
officers to secure the necessary warrants to accost Section 2, Article III of the 1987 Constitution
the robbery suspects. Consequently, there was no mandates that a search and seizure must be
longer any exigent circumstance that would have carried out through or on the strength of a judicial
justified the necessity of setting up the checkpoint warrant predicated upon the existence of
in this case for the purpose of searching the subject probable cause, absent which such search and
vehicle. In addition, it is well to point out that the seizure becomes "unreasonable" within the
checkpoint was arranged for the targeted arrest of meaning of the said constitutional provision. To
Manago, who was already identified as the culprit protect the people from unreasonable searches and
of the robbery incident. In this regard, it cannot, seizures, Section 3 (2), Article III of the 1987
therefore, be said that the checkpoint was meant to Constitution provides that evidence obtained from
conduct a routinary and indiscriminate search of unreasonable searches and seizures shall be
moving vehicles. Rather, it was used as a inadmissible in evidence for any purpose in any
subterfuge to put into force the capture of the proceeding. In other words, evidence obtained and
fleeing suspect. Unfortunately, this setup cannot confiscated on the occasion of such unreasonable
take the place of - nor skirt the legal requirement of searches and seizures are deemed tainted and
- procuring a valid search/arrest warrant given the should be excluded for being the proverbial fruit of
circumstances of this case. Hence, the search a poisonous tree.
conducted on the red Toyota Corolla and on the
person of its driver, Manago, was unlawful. It must, however, be clarified that a search warrant
issued in accordance with the provisions of the
In fine, Manago's warrantless arrest, and the search Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure does not give
incidental thereto, including that of his moving the authorities limitless discretion in implementing
vehicle were all unreasonable and unlawful. In the same as the same Rules provide parameters in
consequence, the shabu seized from him is rendered the proper conduct of a search. Section 8, Rule 126
inadmissible in evidence pursuant to the of the aforesaid Rules, states that:
exclusionary rule under Section 3 (2), Article III of
the 1987 Constitution. Since the confiscated shabu is SEC. 8. Search of house, room, or premises
the very corpus delicti of the crime charged, Manago to be made in presence of two witnesses. —
No search of a house, room or any other
must necessarily be acquitted and exonerated from
premises shall be made except in the
criminal liability. (People v. Manago, G.R. No. presence of the lawful occupant thereof
212340, August 17, 2016) or any member of his family or in the
absence of the latter, two witnesses of
At the outset, it must be stressed that in criminal sufficient age and discretion residing in
cases, an appeal throws the entire case wide open the same locality.
for review and the reviewing tribunal can correct
errors, though unassigned in the appealed Under this provision, a search under the strength of
judgment, or even reverse the trial court's decision a warrant is required to be witnessed by the lawful
based on grounds other than those that the parties occupant of the premises sought to be searched. It
raised as errors. The appeal confers the appellate must be stressed that it is only upon their absence
court full jurisdiction over the case and renders that their presence may be replaced by two (2)
such court competent to examine records, revise persons of sufficient age and discretion residing in
the judgment appealed from, increase the penalty, the same locality. In People v. Go, the Court held
and cite the proper provision of the penal law. that a departure from the said mandatory rule - by
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
preventing the lawful occupant or a member of his search with the vice of
family from actually witnessing the search and unreasonableness, thus compelling
choosing two (2) other witnesses observe the search this Court to apply the exclusionary
rule and declare the seized articles
- violates the spirit and letter of the law, and thus,
inadmissible in evidence. This must
taints the search with the vice of unreasonableness, necessarily be so since it is this Court's
rendering the seized articles inadmissible due to solemn duty to be ever watchful for the
the application of the exclusionary rule, viz.: constitutional rights of the people, and
against any stealthy encroachments
As pointed out earlier, the members of thereon. In the oft-quoted language of
the raiding team categorically admitted Judge Learned Hand:
that the search of the upper floor, which
allegedly resulted in the recovery of the As we understand it, the reason for the
plastic bag containing the shabu, did not exclusion of evidence competent as
take place in the presence of either the such, which has been unlawfully
lawful occupant of the premises, i.e. acquired, is that exclusion is the only
appellant (who was out), or his son Jack practical way of enforcing the
Go (who was handcuffed to a chair on constitutional privilege. In earlier times
the ground floor). Such a procedure, the action of trespass against the
whereby the witnesses prescribed by offending official may have been
law are prevented from actually protection enough; but that is true no
observing and monitoring the search of longer. Only in case the prosecution
the premises, violates both the spirit which itself controls the seizing officials,
and letter of the law: knows that it cannot profit by their
wrong, will that wrong be repressed.
xxx That the raiding party summoned (Emphases and underscoring supplied)
two barangay kagawads to witness the
search at the second floor is of no In People v. Del Castillo, the Court similarly held
moment. The Rules of Court clearly that the search of the premises must be witnessed
and explicitly establishes a hierarchy by the lawful occupant or the family members;
among the witnesses in whose
otherwise, the search become unreasonable, thus
presence the search of the premises
must be conducted. Thus, Section 8, rendering the seized items inadmissible under the
Rule 126 provides that the search exclusionary rule.
should be witnessed by "two witnesses
of sufficient age and discretion In this case, a judicious perusal of the records
residing in the same locality" only in reveals that the policemen involved in the search of
the absence of either the lawful Bulauitan's residence — as shown in their own
occupant of the premises or any
testimonies - did not conduct the search in
member of his family. Thus, the search
accordance with Section 8, Rule 126 of the Revised
of appellant's residence clearly should
have been witnessed by his son Jack Go Rules of Criminal Procedure. (Bulauitan v. People,
who was present at the time. The police G.R. No. 218891, September 19, 2016)
officers were without discretion to
substitute their choice of witnesses for However P/Insp. Bulayungan's testimony was
those prescribed by the law. xxx belied by that of another member of the search
team, PO3 Tagal, who testified that Bulauitan was
The raiding team's departure from the not in the premises when they conducted the
procedure mandated by Section 8, Rule search xxx. While Bulauitan's absence in the search,
126 of tote Rules of Court, taken
per se, did not violate Section 8, Rule 126 of the 2000
together with the numerous other
irregularities attending the search of Rules on Criminal Procedure, the search team
appellant's residence, tainted the committed other errors which led to such violation.

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
For instance, Bulauitan's daughter, Maria, was Ligot clarifies that "probable cause refers to the
effectively precluded from witnessing the search sufficiency of the relation between an unlawful
conducted by SPO2 Baccay in Bulauitan's room as activity and the property or monetary instrument
PO3 Tagal kept her in the living room by searching which is the focal point of Section 10 of the AMLA,
the area and asking her a lot of questions. xxx. as amended." This same probable cause is likewise
Worse, the search team even instructed Maria to the focal point in a bank inquiry order to further
contact her father via telephone, which she could determine whether the account under investigation
only do by leaving their residence and going to the is linked to unlawful activities and/or money
house of a certain Dr. Romeo Bago (Dr. Bago) to laundering offense. Thus, the specific applicability
use the telephone therein. It was only after her of Sections 52, 53, 54 and 57 Title VIII of A.M. No.
return to their residence that SPO2 Baccay 05-11-04-SC covering the following: (1) Issuance,
announced that they have allegedly found shabu in Form and Content of the Freeze Order; (2)
Bulauitan's room xxx. The foregoing statements Effectivity of the Freeze Order and Post Issuance
were corroborated by Kgd. Soliva's testimony, Hearing thereon; (3) Notice of the Freeze Order;
which essentially stated that: (a) Bulauitan was not and (4) Appeal from the Freeze Order as separate
present when the search was conducted; (b) Maria Rules for Petitions to Question the Bank Inquiry
wasn't able to witness the conduct of such search; Order. And as held in Eugenio which now applies
and (c) even he and Kgd. Polonia - the two (2) to the present Section 11 of the AMLA:
witnesses designated by the barangay chairman -
did not witness the search as they remained outside Although oriented towards different
Bulauitan's residence xxx. purposes, the freeze order under Section
10 and the bank inquiry order under
The testimonies given in the case at bar ultimately Section 11 are similar in that they are
extraordinary provisional reliefs which
prove that: (a) Bulauitan was not in his residence
the AMLC may avail of to effectively
when the search was conducted; (b) his daughter,
combat and prosecute money
Maria, was not able to witness SPO2 Baccay's laundering offenses. Crucially, Section
search of Bulauitan's room as PO3 Tagal kept her in 10 uses specific language to authorize an
the living room and even instructed her to leave the ex parte application for the provisional
house to contact her parents; and (c) Kgd. Soliva relief therein, a circumstance absent in
and Kgd. Polonia neither witnessed the search as Section 11. xxx.
they remained outside Bulauitan's residence.
Accordingly, the search conducted therein by the The cited rules cover and approximate the
search team fell way below the standard mandated distinction made by Eugenio in declaring
by Section 8, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of that the bank inquiry order is not a search
Criminal Procedure, and thus deemed warrant, and yet there are instituted
unreasonable within the purview of the requirements for the issuance of these
exclusionary rule of the 1987 Constitution. As a orders given that such is now allowed ex-
consequence, the three (3) plastic sachets parte:
containing an aggregate amount of 0.22 gram of
shabu recovered therefrom are inadmissible in The Constitution and the Rules of Court
evidence for being the proverbial fruit of the prescribe particular requirements
poisonous tree. Since the confiscated shabu is the attaching to search warrants that are not
very corpus delicti of the crime charged, Bulauitan imposed by the AMLA with respect to
bank inquiry orders. A constitutional
must necessarily be acquitted and exonerated from
warrant requires that the judge
all criminal liability. (Bulauitan v. People, G.R. No. personally examine under oath or
218891, September 19, 2016) affirmation the complainant and the
witnesses he may produce, such
examination being in the form of
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
searching questions and answers. Those opposition interposed by the public
are impositions which the legislative did prosecutor are deemed mere surplusage.
not specifically prescribe as to the bank
inquiry order under the AMLA and we WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing,
cannot find sufficient legal basis to apply the motion is GRANTED. Search Warrant
them to Section 11 of the AMLA. Simply No. 45 is hereby ordered QUASHED.
put, a bank inquiry order is not a search Consequently, all evidence obtained in the
warrant or warrant of arrest as it execution of Search Warrant No. 45 are
contemplates a direct object but not the likewise ordered SUPPRESSED. There
seizure of persons or property. being no more evidence to support them, the
Informations in the above-captioned cases
are hereby dismissed.
Even as the Constitution and the Rules of
Court impose a high procedural standard
for the determination of probable cause Anent the main issue as to whether a municipal
for the issuance of search warrants which trial court has the authority to issue a search
Congress chose not to prescribe for the warrant involving an offense in which it has no
bank inquiry order under the AMLA, jurisdiction, this Court answers in the affirmative.
Congress nonetheless disallowed ex parte xxx.
applications for the inquiry order. We
can discern that in exchange for these The respondent RTC judge, in this case, quashed
procedural standards normally applied
the search warrant and eventually dismissed the
to search warrants, Congress chose
instead to legislate a right to notice and a
case based merely on the fact that the search
right to be heard — characteristics of warrant was issued by the MTC of Gattaran,
judicial proceedings which are not ex Cagayan proceeding from a suspected violation of
parte. Absent any demonstrable R.A. 9165 or The Dangerous Drugs Act, an offense
constitutional infirmity, there is no which is beyond the jurisdiction of the latter court.
reason for us to dispute such legislative It is therefore safe to presume that the other
policy choices. (Subido, Pagente, Certeza, grounds raised by the private respondent in his
Mendoza and Binay Law Offices v. The motion to quash are devoid of any merit. By that
Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 216914,
alone, the respondent judge gravely abused his
December 6, 2016)
discretion in quashing the search warrant on a
basis other than the accepted grounds. It must be
The RTC, through respondent Judge Castillo, granted
remembered that a search warrant is valid for as
the above motion in its Joint Resolution dated May 14,
long as it has all the requisites set forth by the
2012, which partly reads as follows:
Constitution and must only be quashed when any
It is indubitable from the foregoing that the of its elements are found to be wanting.
minimum penalty for illegal possession of
methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu is This Court has provided rules to be followed in the
imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one application for a search warrant. Rule 126 of the
(1) day to twenty (20) years, which penalty Rules of Criminal Procedure provides:
is way beyond imprisonment of six (6)
years. A fortiori, MTC Gattaran did not
Sec. 2. Court where application for
have jurisdiction to entertain the application
search warrant shall be filed. - An
for and to issue Search Warrant No. 45. As
application for search warrant shall be
such, Search Warrant No. 45 is null and
filed with the following:
void. [Corollary] thereto, all proceedings had
in virtue thereof are likewise null and void.
(a) Any court within whose territorial
With the foregoing conclusion, any further jurisdiction a crime was committed.
discussion on the grounds relied upon by the
accused to buttress his motion and the (b) For compelling reasons stated in the
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
application, any court within the judicial Solicitor General, such technicality can be relaxed
region where the crime was committed in the interest of justice. The Court has allowed
if the place of the commission of the some meritorious cases to proceed despite inherent
crime is known, or any court within the procedural defects and lapses. This is in keeping
judicial region where the warrant shall
with the principle that rules of procedure are mere
be enforced.
tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice
However, if the criminal action has and that strict and rigid application of rules which
already been filed, the application shall would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate
only be made in the court where the rather than promote substantial justice must always
criminal action is pending. be avoided… Therefore, if this Court had
previously considered the petitions filed by private
Apparently, in this case, the application for a complainants and deemed them as if filed by the
search warrant was filed within the same judicial Office of the Solicitor General, there is no reason to
region where the crime was allegedly committed. disallow the petition herein filed by the Assistant
For compelling reasons, the Municipal Trial Court Provincial Prosecutor. (People v. Castillo, G.R. No.
of Gattaran, Cagayan has the authority to issue a 204419, November 7, 2016)
search warrant to search and seize the dangerous
drugs stated in the application thereof in Aparri, As a caveat, although the Decision dated August
Cagayan, a place that is within the same judicial 16, 2011 has attained finality, it does not mean that
region. The fact that the search warrant was issued the principle it laid down should still be followed.
means that the MTC judge found probable cause to The said decision basically rules that every
grant the said application after the latter was found application for search warrant shall be personally
by the same judge to have been filed for compelling endorsed by the heads of such agencies as
reasons. Therefore, Sec. 2, Rule 126 of the Rules of enumerated in Section 12 Chapter V of A.M. No.
Court was duly complied with. 03-8-02-SC. This Court, however, finds that nothing
in A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC prohibits the heads of the
It must be noted that nothing in the above-quoted National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the
rule does it say that the court issuing a search Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Anti-
warrant must also have jurisdiction over the Crime Task Force (ACTAF) from delegating their
offense. A search warrant may be issued by any ministerial duty of endorsing the application for
court pursuant to Section 2, Rule 126 of the Rules of search warrant to their assistant heads. This has
Court and the resultant case may be filed in already been clarified by this Court in Spouses
another court that has jurisdiction over the offense Marimla v. People, when it ruled that under Section
committed. What controls here is that a search 31, Chapter 6, Book IV of the Administrative Code
warrant is merely a process, generally issued by a of 1987, an assistant head or other subordinate in
court in the exercise of its ancillary jurisdiction, and every bureau may perform such duties as may be
not a criminal action to be entertained by a court specified by their superior or head, as long as it is
pursuant to its original jurisdiction. Thus, in certain not inconsistent with law xxx. Nothing in A.M. No.
cases when no criminal action has yet been filed, 99-10-09-SC prohibits the heads of the PNP, NBI,
any court may issue a search warrant even though PAOC-TF and REACT-TF from delegating their
it has no jurisdiction over the offense allegedly ministerial duty of endorsing the application for
committed, provided that all the requirements for search warrant to their assistant heads. xxx.
the issuance of such warrant are present. (People v. Director Wycoco's act of delegating his task of
Castillo, G.R. No. 204419, November 7, 2016) endorsing the application for search warrant to
Deputy Director Nasol is allowed by the above
As such, even if the petitioner in this case, quoted provision of law unless it is shown to be
representing the People, is only the Assistant inconsistent with any law. Thus, Deputy Director
Provincial Prosecutor and not the Office of the Nasol's endorsement had the same force and effect
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
as an endorsement issued by Director Wycoco earlier. In this case, it was an error to quash the
himself. The finding of the RTC in the questioned search warrant simply because the application
Orders that Deputy Director Nasol possessed the thereof was without the personal endorsement of
authority to sign for and in behalf of Director the Chief of the PNP.
Wycoco is unassailable.
Unfortunately, as discussed earlier, tie Decision of
A.M. No. 03-8-02-SC and A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC the CA Sixth Division quashing Search Warrant
substantially contain the same provisions, except Nos. 407-12100 to A07-12103 has already attained
that the former involves applications for search finality.
warrants for violations of the Intellectual Property
Code and the latter involves applications for search The Department of Justice, however, is not barred
warrants for the commission of heinous crimes, from filing an information against petitioner for
illegal gambling, dangerous drugs and illegal trademark infringement and unfair competition if it
possession of firearms. Nevertheless, without this still finds probable cause despite the absence of the
Court issuing A.M. No. 99-10-09-SC clarifying the materials confiscated by virtue of the defective
guidelines in the application and enforceability of search warrants through other pieces of evidence it
search warrants, the search warrants subject of this has in its arsenal. This court has adopted a
case should still not have been quashed because deferential attitude towards review of the
before the issuance thereof, the court had already executive's finding of probable cause. This is based
found probable cause to issue those search "not only upon the respect for the investigatory and
warrants and whatever defects that the [prosecutorial] powers granted by the Constitution
applications had are minor and technical, hence, to the executive department but upon practicality
the court could have merely ordered its correction. as well." (Tomas v. Criminal Investigation and
xxx. Detection Group, G.R. No. 208090, November 9,
Furthermore, it must be remembered that the
requisites for the issuance of a search warrant are: As a consequence of the Sindac's unlawful arrest, it
(1) probable cause is present; (2) such probable follows that there could be no valid search
cause must be determined personally by the judge; incidental to a lawful arrest which had yielded the
(3) the judge must examine, in writing and under plastic sachet containing 0.04 gram of shabu from
oath or affirmation, the complainant and the Sindac. Notably, while it is true that Sindac: (a)
witnesses he or she may produce; (4) the applicant failed to question the legality of the warrantless
and the witnesses testify on the facts personally arrest against him before arraignment; and (b)
known to them; and (5) the warrant specifically actively participated in the trial of the case, it must
describes the place to be searched and the things to nevertheless be clarified that the foregoing
be seized. xxx. constitutes a waiver ONLY as to any question
concerning any defects in his arrest, AND NOT
Consequently, a motion to quash a search warrant with regard to the inadmissibility of the evidence
may be based on grounds extrinsic of the search seized during an illegal warrantless arrest. In
warrant, such as (1) the place searched or the Homar v. People:
property seized are not those specified or described
in the search warrant; and (2) there is no probable We agree with the respondent that the
cause for the issuance of the search warrant. petitioner did not timely object to the
irregularity of his arrest before his
Thus, a search warrant is valid as long as it has all arraignment as required by the Rules. In
the elements set forth by the Constitution and may addition, he actively participated in the
trial of the case. As a result, the
only be quashed if it lacks one or some of the said
petitioner is deemed to have submitted
elements, or on those two grounds mentioned
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
to the jurisdiction of the trial court, At the outset, the Court notes that respondent
thereby curing any defect in his arrest. never denied that he posted the purportedly vulgar
and obscene remarks about complainant and BMGI
However, this waiver to question an on his Facebook account. In defense, however, he
illegal arrest only affects the
invokes his right to privacy, claiming that they
jurisdiction of the court over his
person. It is well-settled that a waiver were "private remarks" on his "private account"
of an illegal, warrantless arrest does that can only be viewed by his circle of friends.
not carry with it a waiver of the Thus, when complainant accessed the same, she
inadmissibility of evidence seized violated his constitutionally guaranteed right to
during an illegal warrantless arrest. privacy.

Since the shabu was seized during an

The defense is untenable. xxx.
illegal arrest, its inadmissibility as
evidence precludes conviction and
justifies the acquittal of the petitioner. To address concerns about privacy, but without
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied) defeating its purpose, Facebook was armed with
different privacy tools designed to regulate the
All told, since the shabu purportedly seized from accessibility of a user's profile, as well as
Sindac constitutes inadmissible evidence in information uploaded by the user. In H v. W, the
violation of Section 3 (2), Article III of the 1987 South Gauteng High Court of Johannesburg,
Constitution, and given that the confiscated shabu is Republic of South Africa recognized this ability of
the very corpus delicti of the crime charged, the the users to "customize their privacy settings," but
Court finds Sindac's conviction to be improper and with the cautionary advice that although Facebook,
therefore, acquits him. (Sindac v. People, G.R. No. as stated in its policies, "makes every effort to
220732, September 6, 2016) protect a user's information, these privacy settings
are however not foolproof."
Moreover, it has been consistently held that strict
compliance on the chain of custody rule is not Consequently, before one can have an expectation
required and that the arrest of an accused will not of privacy in his or her online social networking
be invalidated and the items seized from him activity - in this case, Facebook - it is first necessary
rendered inadmissible on the sole ground of non- that said user manifests the intention to keep
compliance with Sec. 21, Art. II of RA No. 9165 and certain posts private, through the employment of
its Implementing Rules and Regulations. The most measures to prevent access thereto or to limit its
important factor in the determination of the guilt or visibility. This intention can materialize in
innocence of the accused is the preservation of the cyberspace through the utilization of Facebook's
integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items. privacy tools. In other words, utilization of these
Here, the prosecution was able to establish with privacy tools is the manifestation, in the cyber
moral certainty and prove to the court beyond world, of the user's invocation of his or her right to
reasonable doubt that the illegal drugs (and drug informational privacy.
paraphernalia) presented to the trial court as
evidence are the same items confiscated from the The bases of the instant complaint are the Facebook
accused, tested and found to be positive for posts maligning and insulting complainant, which
dangerous substance. (People v. Mohammad, G.R. posts respondent insists were set to private view.
No. 213221, November 9, 2016) However, the latter has failed to offer evidence that
he utilized any of the privacy tools or features of
Right to Privacy Facebook available to him to protect his posts, or
that he restricted its privacy to a select few.
Therefore, without any positive evidence to
corroborate his statement that the subject posts, as
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
well as the comments thereto, were visible only to bank inquiry order to be allowed by specific
him and his circle of friends, respondent's legislation as an exception to the general rule of
statement is, at best, self-serving, thus deserving absolute confidentiality of bank deposits. (Subido,
scant consideration. xxx. Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza and Binay Law Offices v.
The Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 216914, December 6,
Thus, restricting the privacy of one's Facebook 2016)
posts to "Friends" does not guarantee absolute
protection from the prying eyes of another user As previously stated, the AMLA now specifically
who does not belong to one's circle of friends. The provides for an ex-parte application for an order
user's own Facebook friend can share said content authorizing inquiry or examination into bank
or tag his or her own Facebook friend thereto, deposits or investments which continues to pass
regardless of whether the user tagged by the latter constitutional muster.
is Facebook friends or not with the former. Also,
when the post is shared or when a person is tagged, We thus subjected Section 11 of the AMLA to
the respective Facebook friends of the person who heightened scrutiny and found nothing arbitrary in
shared the post or who was tagged can view the the allowance and authorization to AMLC to
post, the privacy setting of which was set at undertake an inquiry into certain bank accounts or
"Friends." Under the circumstances, therefore, deposits. Instead, we found that it provides
respondent's claim of violation of right to privacy is safeguards before a bank inquiry order is issued,
negated. (Belo v. Guavarra, A.C. No. 11394, ensuring adherence to the general state policy of
December 1, 2016) preserving the absolutely confidential nature of
Philippine bank accounts:
From the foregoing disquisition, we extract the
following principles: (1) The AMLC is required to establish
probable cause as basis for its ex-parte
1. The Constitution did not application for bank inquiry order;
allocate specific rights peculiar to bank
deposits; (2) The CA, independent of the AMLC's
demonstration of probable cause, itself
2. The general rule of absolute makes a finding of probable cause that
confidentiality is simply statutory, i.e. the deposits or investments are related
not specified in the Constitution, which to an unlawful activity under Section
has been affirmed in jurisprudence; 3(i) or a money laundering offense
under Section 4 of the AMLA;
3. Exceptions to the general rule
of absolute confidentiality have been (3) A bank inquiry court order ex-parte
carved out by the Legislature which for related accounts is preceded by a
legislation have been sustained, albeit bank inquiry court order ex-parte for the
subjected to heightened scrutiny by the principal account which court order ex-
courts; and parte for related accounts is separately
based on probable cause that such
4. One such legislated exception related account is materially linked to
is Section 11 of the AMLA. the principal account inquired into; and

The warning in Eugenio that an ex-parte proceeding (4) The authority to inquire into or
examine the main or principal account
authorizing the government to inspect certain bank
and the related accounts shall comply
accounts or investments without notice to the with the requirements of Article III,
depositor would have significant implications on Sections 2 and 3 of the Constitution.
the right to privacy still does not preclude such a
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
The foregoing demonstrates that the inquiry and frozen are in any way related to any of
examination into the bank account are not the illegal activities enumerated under
undertaken whimsically and solely based on the R.A. 9160, as amended. Otherwise
investigative discretion of the AMLC. In particular, stated, probable cause refers to the
sufficiency of the relation between an
the requirement of demonstration by the AMLC,
unlawful activity and the property or
and determination by the CA, of probable cause monetary instrument which is the focal
emphasizes the limits of such governmental action. point of Section 10 of RA No. 9160, as
We will revert to these safeguards under Section 11 amended. xxx. (Emphasis supplied)
as we specifically discuss the CA's denial of
SPCMB's letter request for information concerning Second. As regards SPCMB's contention that the
the purported issuance of a bank inquiry order bank inquiry order is in the nature of a general
involving its accounts. warrant, Eugenio already declared that Section 11,
even with the allowance of an ex parte application
First. The AMLC and the appellate court are therefor, "is not a search warrant or warrant of
respectively required to demonstrate and ascertain arrest as it contemplates a direct object but not the
probable cause. Ret. Lt. Gen. Ligot, et al. v. Republic of seizure of persons or property."34 It bears repeating
the Philippines, which dealt with the adjunct that the ''bank inquiry order" under Section 11 is a
provisional remedy of freeze order under Section provisional remedy to aid the AMLC in the
10 of the AMLA, defined probable cause, thus: enforcement of the AMLA.

The probable cause required for the Third. Contrary to the stance of SPCMB, the bank
issuance of a freeze order differs from inquiry order does not contemplate that SPCMB be
the probable cause required for the
first impleaded in a money laundering case already
institution of a criminal action, xxx.
filed before the courts:
As defined in the law, the probable
cause required for the issuance of a We are unconvinced by this proposition,
and agree instead with the then Solicitor
freeze order refers to "such facts and
circumstances which would lead a General who conceded that the use of
reasonably discreet, prudent or the phrase "in cases of” was
unfortunate, yet submitted that it
cautious man to believe that an
unlawful activity and/or money should be interpreted to mean "in the
event there are violations" of the AMLA,
laundering offence is about to be, is
being or has been committed and that and not that there are already cases
the account or any monetary pending in court concerning such
instrument or property subject thereof violations. If the contrary position is
sought to be frozen is in any way adopted, then the bank inquiry order
related to said unlawful activity would be limited in purpose as a tool in
and/or money laundering offense." aid of litigation of live cases, and wholly
inutile as a means for the government to
ascertain whether there is sufficient
In other words, in resolving the issue of
evidence to sustain an intended
whether probable cause exits, the CA's
prosecution of the account holder for
statutorily-guided determination's
violation of the AMLA. Should that be
focus is not on the probable
the situation, in all likelihood the AMLC
commissions of an unlawful activity
would be virtually deprived of its
(or money laundering) that the office of
character as a discovery tool, and thus
the Ombudsman has already
would become less circumspect in filing
determined to exist, but on whether the
complaints against suspect account
bank accounts, assets, or other
holders. After all, under such set-up the
monetary instruments sought to be
preferred strategy would be to allow or
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
even encourage the indiscriminate filing physical seizure thereof, as in freezing of bank
of complaints under the AMLA with the accounts under Section 10 of the AMLA. Note,
hope or expectation that the evidence of however, that the allowance to question the bank
money laundering would somehow inquiry order we carve herein is tied to the
surface during the trial. Since the AMLC
appellate court's issuance of a freeze order on the
could not make use of the bank inquiry
order to determine whether there is
principal accounts. Even in Eugenio, while
evidentiary basis to prosecute the declaring that the bank inquiry order under Section
suspected malefactors, not filing any II then required prior notice of such to the account
case at all would not be an alternative. owner, we recognized that the determination of
Such unwholesome set-up should not probable cause by the appellate court to issue the
come to pass. Thus Section 11 cannot be bank inquiry order can be contested. As presently
interpreted in a way that would worded and how AMLC functions are designed
emasculate the remedy it has under the AMLA, the occasion for the issuance of
established and encourage the the freeze order upon the actual physical seizure of
unfounded initiation of complaints for
the investigated and inquired into bank account,
money laundering. (Citation omitted)
calls into motions the opportunity for the bank
account owner to then question, not just probable
Guided as we are by prior holdings, and bound as
cause for the issuance of the freeze order under
we are by the requirements for issuance of a bank
Section I 0, but, to begin with, the determination of
inquiry order under Section 11 of the AMLA, we
probable cause for an ex-parte bank inquiry order
are hard pressed to declare that it violates SPCMB's
into a purported related account under Section II.
right to privacy. (Subido, Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza
and Binay Law Offices v. The Court of Appeals, G.R.
In enacting the amendment to Section II of the
No. 216914, December 6, 2016)
AMLC, the legislature saw it fit to place
requirements before a bank inquiry order may be
As previously adverted to in our discussion on the
issued. We discussed these requirements as basis
right to privacy, the clash of privacy rights and
for a valid exception to the general rule on absolute
interest against that of the government's is readily
confidentiality of bank accounts. However, these
apparent. However, the statutorily enshrined
very safe guards allow SPCMB, post issuance of the
general rule on absolute confidentiality of bank
ex-parte bank inquiry order, legal bases to question
accounts remains. Thus, the safeguards instituted
the propriety of such issued order, if any. To
in Section II of the AMLA and heretofore discussed
emphasize, this allowance to the owner of the bank
provide for certain well defined limits, as in the
account to question the bank inquiry order is
language of Baker v. Carr, "judicially discoverable
granted only after issuance of the freeze order
standards" for determining the validity of the
physically seizing the subject bank account. It
exercise of such discretion by the appellate court in
cannot be undertaken prior to the issuance of the
denying the letter-request of SPCMB. In short,
freeze order. (Subido, Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza and
Section II itself provides the basis for the judicial
Binay Law Offices v. The Court of Appeals, G.R. No.
inquiry and which the owner of the bank accounts
216914, December 6, 2016)
subject of the AMLC inquiry may invoke. (Subido,
Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza and Binay Law Offices v.
All told, we affirm the constitutionality of Section
The Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 216914, December 6,
11 of the AMLA allowing the ex-parte application
by the AMLC for authority to inquire into, and
examine, certain bank deposits and investments.
Undeniably, there is probable and preliminary
governmental action against SPCMB geared
Section 11 of the AMLA providing for the ex-parte
towards implementation of the AMLA directed at
bank deposit inquiry is constitutionally firm for the
SPCMB's property, although there is none, as yet,
reasons already discussed. The ex-parte inquiry
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
shall be upon probable cause that the deposits or Petitioners are not candidates. They are asserting
investments are related to an unlawful activity as their right to freedom of expression. We
defined in Section 3(i) of the law or a money acknowledged the "chilling effect" of the assailed
laundering offense under Section 4 of the same law. notice and letter on this constitutional right in our
To effect the limit on the ex-parte inquiry, the Decision, thus:
petition under oath for authority to inquire, must,
akin to the requirement of a petition for freeze Nothing less than the electorate's
order enumerated in Title VIII of A.M. No. 05-11- political speech will be affected by the
04-SC, contain the name and address of the restrictions imposed by COMELEC.
respondent; the grounds relied upon for the Political speech is motivated by the
desire to be heard and understood, to
issuance of the order of inquiry; and the supporting
move people to action. It is concerned
evidence that the subject bank deposit are in any with the sovereign right to change the
way related to or involved in an unlawful activity. contours of power whether through the
election of representatives in a
If the CA finds no substantial merit in the petition, republican government or the revision
it shall dismiss the petition outright stating the of the basic text of the Constitution. The
specific reasons for such denial. If found zeal with which we protect this kind of
meritorious and there is a subsequent petition for speech does not depend on our
freeze order, the proceedings shall be governed by evaluation of the cogency of the
the existing Rules on Petitions for Freeze Order in message. Neither do we assess whether
we should protect speech based on the
the CA. From the issuance of a freeze order, the
motives of COMELEC. We evaluate
party aggrieved by the ruling of the court may restrictions on freedom of expression
appeal to the Supreme Court by petition for review from their effects. We protect both
on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court speech and medium because the quality
raising all pertinent questions of law and issues, of this freedom in practice will define
including the propriety of the issuance of a bank the quality of deliberation in our
inquiry order. The appeal shall not stay the democratic society.
enforcement of the subject decision or final order
unless the Supreme Court directs otherwise. The COMELEC's notice and letter affect
CA is directed to draft rules based on the foregoing preferred speech. Respondents' acts are
capable of repetition. Under the
discussions to complement the existing A.M. No.
conditions in which it was issued and in
05-11-04-SC Rule of Procedure in Cases of Civil view of the novelty of this case, it could
Forfeiture, Asset Preservation, and Freezing of result in a "chilling effect" that would
Monetary Instrument, Property, or Proceeds affect other citizens who want their
Representing, Involving, or Relating to an voices heard on issues during the
Unlawful Activity or Money Laundering Offense elections. Other citizens who wish to
under Republic Act No. 9160, as Amended for express their views regarding the
submission to the Committee on the Revision of the election and other related issues may
Rules of Court and eventual approval and choose not to, for fear of reprisal or
promulgation of the Court en banc. sanction by the COMELEC.

Direct resort to this court is allowed to

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. Section 11 avoid such proscribed conditions. Rule
of Republic Act No. 9160, as amended, is declared 65 is also the procedural platform for
VALID and CONSTITUTIONAL. (Subido, Pagente, raising grave abuse of discretion.
Certeza, Mendoza and Binay Law Offices v. The Court
of Appeals, G.R. No. 216914, December 6, 2016) The urgency posed by the circumstances
during respondents' issuance of the assailed
Freedom of Speech notice and letter—the then issue on the RH
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
Law as well as the then upcoming imprisonment or both at the discretion of the
elections—also rendered compliance with Court.
the doctrine on exhaustion of administrative
remedies as unreasonable. Contempt is akin to a case of libel for both
constitute limitations upon freedom of the press or
All these circumstances surrounding this case led freedom of expression guaranteed by our
to this Court's pro hac vice ruling to allow due Constitution. What is considered a privilege in one
course to the Petition. may likewise be considered in the other. As early
as 1918, this Court, in the case of United States v.
The other arguments have also been considered Cañete, ruled that publications which are
and thoroughly addressed in our Decision. privileged for reasons of public policy are protected
by the constitutional guaranty of freedom of
This Court's Decision discussed that the tarpaulin speech. Therefore, the principle of privileged
consists of satire of political parties that "primarily communications can also be invoked in contempt
advocates a stand on a social issue; only charges.
secondarily—even almost incidentally—will cause
the election or non-election of a candidate." It is not It is settled that Section 18, Rule 139-B of the Rules
election propaganda as its messages are different of Court is not a restriction on the freedom of the
from the usual declarative messages of candidates. press. As long as there is a legitimate public
The tarpaulin is an expression with political interest, the media is not prohibited from making a
consequences, and "[t]his court's construction of the fair, true, and accurate news report of a disbarment
guarantee of freedom of expression has always complaint. However, in the absence of a legitimate
been wary of censorship or subsequent punishment public interest in a disbarment complaint, members
that entails evaluation of the speaker's viewpoint or of the media must preserve the confidentiality of
the content of one's speech." disbarment proceedings during its pendency.
We recognize that there can be a type of speech by (Palad v. Solis, G.R. No. 206691, October 3, 2016)
private citizens amounting to election
paraphernalia that can be validly regulated. In the case at bar, the highly-publicized
However, this is not the situation in this case. The controversy involving petitioner's client, who is a
twin tarpaulins consist of a social advocacy, and public figure, roused the public's attention, as the
the regulation, if applied in this case, fails the footage was made available to anyone who has
reasonability test. access to internet. The case involved the issue on
photo or video voyeurism on the internet which is
Lastly, the regulation is content-based. The considered a subject of public interest. The public
Decision discussed that "[t]he form of expression is concern was focused on the event, the conduct of
just as important as the information conveyed that the personalities, and the content, effect and
it forms part of the expression[,]" and size does significance of the conduct, and not on the mere
matter. (The Diocese of Bacolod v. Commission on personalities. Thus, petitioner represents a matter
Elections, Resolution on the MR, G.R. No. 205728, of public interest. xxx.
July 5, 2016)
A person, even if he was not a public official or at
We held that malicious and unauthorized least a public figure, could validly be the subject of
publication or verbatim reproduction of a public comment as long as he was involved in a
administrative complaints against lawyers in public issue. Petitioner has become a public figure
newspapers by editors and/or reporters may be because he is representing a public concern. xxx.
actionable. Such premature publication constitutes
a contempt of court, punishable by either a fine or Since petitioner has become a public figure for
being involved in a public issue, and because the
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
event itself that led to the filing of the disciplinary bad faith and reveals an intention to besmirch the
case against petitioner is a matter of public interest, name and reputation of complainant, as well as
the media has the right to report the disciplinary BMGI. Respondent also ascribed criminal
case as legitimate news. The legitimate media has a negligence upon complainant and BMGI by posting
right to publish such fact under the constitutional that complainant disfigured ("binaboy") his client
guarantee of freedom of the press. Respondents Norcio, labeling BMGI a "Frankenstein Factory,"
merely reported on the alleged penalty of and calling out a boycott of BMGI's services all
suspension from the practice of law for a year these despite the pendency of the criminal cases
against petitioner, and the supposed grounds relied that Norcio had already filed against complainant.
upon. It appeared that the respondents, as He even threatened complainant with conviction
entertainment writers, merely acted on information for criminal negligence and estafa which is contrary
they received from their source about the petitioner to one’s obligation “to act with justice.”
who used to appear before the media in
representing his actress client. Also, there was no In view of the foregoing, respondent's
evidence that the respondents published the inappropriate and obscene language, and his act of
articles to influence this Court on its action on the publicly insulting and undermining the reputation
disciplinary case or deliberately destroy of complainant through the subject Facebook posts
petitioner’s reputation. Thus, they did not violate are, therefore, in complete and utter violation of the
the confidentiality rule in disciplinary proceedings following provisions in the Code of Professional
against lawyers. (Palad v. Solis, G.R. No. 206691, Responsibility xxx. (Belo v. Guavarra, A.C. No.
October 3, 2016) 11394, December 1, 2016)

Neither can the Court accept the argument that the That complainant is a public figure and/or a
subject remarks were written in the exercise of his celebrity and therefore, a public personage who is
freedom of speech and expression. exposed to criticism does not justify respondent's
disrespectful language. It is the cardinal condition
Time and again, it has been held that the freedom of all criticism that it shall be bona fide, and shall not
of speech and of expression, like all constitutional spill over the walls of decency and propriety. In
freedoms, is not absolute. While the freedom of this case, respondent's remarks against
expression and the right of speech and of the press complainant breached the said walls, for which
are among the most zealously protected rights in reason the former must be administratively
the Constitution, every person exercising them, as sanctioned. (Belo v. Guavarra, A.C. No. 11394,
the Civil Code stresses, is obliged to act with December 1, 2016)
justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty
and good faith. As such, the constitutional right of Freedom of the Press
freedom of expression may not be availed of to
broadcast lies or half-truths, insult others, destroy Once the conditions imposed under Section 184.1
their name or reputation or bring them into (c) of the IPC are complied with, the information -
disrepute. in this case the live audio of the debates - now
forms part of the public domain. There is now
A punctilious scrutiny of the Facebook remarks freedom of the press to report or publicly
complained of disclosed that they were ostensibly disseminate the live audio of the debates. In fact,
made with malice tending to insult and tarnish the the MOA recognizes the right of other mass media
reputation of complainant and BMGI. Calling entities, not parties to the MOA, to reproduce the
complainant a "quack doctor," "Reyna ng debates subject only to the same copyright
Kaplastikan," "Reyna ng Payola," and "Reyna ng conditions. The freedom of the press to report and
Kapalpakan," and insinuating that she has been disseminate the live audio of the debates, subject to
bribing people to destroy respondent smacks of compliance with Section 184. l (c) of the IPC, can no
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
longer be infringed or subject to prior restraint. that as Human Resource Officer, Cadiz should
Such freedom of the press to report and have been the epitome of proper conduct and her
disseminate the live audio of the debates is now indiscretion "surely scandalized the Brent
protected and guaranteed under Section 4, Article community."
III of the Constitution, which provides that "[N]o
law shall be passed abridging the freedom x x x of The foregoing circumstances, however, do not
the press." (Rappler, Inc. v. Bautista, G.R. No. 222702, readily equate to disgraceful and immoral conduct.
April 5, 2016) Brent's Policy Manual and Employee's Manual of
Policies do not define what constitutes immorality;
Freedom of Religion it simply stated immorality as a ground for
disciplinary action. Instead, Brent erroneously
Thus, the question that must be resolved is whether relied on the standard dictionary definition of
Cadiz's premarital relations with her boyfriend and the fornication as a form of illicit relation and
resulting pregnancy out of wedlock constitute proceeded to conclude that Cadiz's acts fell under
immorality. such classification, thus constituting immorality.

To resolve this, the Court makes reference to the Jurisprudence has already set the standard of
recently promulgated case of Cheryll Santos Leus v. morality with which an act should be gauged - it is
St. Scholastica’s College Westgrove and/or Sr. Edna public and secular, not religious. Whether a
Quiambao, OSB. conduct is considered disgraceful or immoral
should be made in accordance with the prevailing
Leus involved the same personal circumstances as norms of conduct, which, as stated in Leus, refer to
the case at bench, albeit the employer was a those conducts which are proscribed because they
Catholic and sectarian educational institution and are detrimental to conditions upon which depend
the petitioner, Cheryll Santos Leus (Leus ), worked the existence and progress of human society. The
as an assistant to the school's Director of the Lay fact that a particular act does not conform to the
Apostolate and Community Outreach Directorate. traditional moral views of a certain sectarian
Leus was dismissed from employment by the institution is not sufficient reason to qualify such
school for having borne a child out of wedlock. The act as immoral unless it, likewise, does not conform
Court ruled in Leus that the determination of to public and secular standards. More importantly,
whether a conduct is disgraceful or immoral there must be substantial evidence to establish that
involves a two-step process: first, a consideration premarital sexual relations and pregnancy out of
of the totality of the circumstances surrounding the wedlock is considered disgraceful or immoral.
conduct; and second, an assessment of the said
circumstances vis-a-vis the prevailing norms of The totality of the circumstances of this case does
conduct, i.e., what the society generally considers not justify the conclusion that Cadiz committed
moral and respectable. acts of immorality. Similar to Leus, Cadiz and her
boyfriend were both single and had no legal
In this case, the surrounding facts leading to impediment to marry at the time she committed the
Cadiz's dismissal are straightforward - she was alleged immoral conduct. In fact, they eventually
employed as a human resources officer in an married on April 15, 2008. Aside from these, the
educational and medical institution of the labor tribunals' respective conclusion that Cadiz's
Episcopal Church of the Philippines; she and her "indiscretion" "scandalized the Brent community" is
boyfriend at that time were both single; they speculative, at most, and there is no proof adduced
engaged in premarital sexual relations, which by Brent to support such sweeping conclusion.
resulted into pregnancy. The labor tribunals Even Brent admitted that it came to know of
characterized these as constituting disgraceful or Cadiz's "situation" only when her pregnancy
immoral conduct. They also sweepingly concluded became manifest. Brent also conceded that "[a]t the
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
time [Cadiz] and Carl R. Cadiz were just carrying the proper information on matters that affect them.
on their boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, there But the people’s right to information is not
was no knowledge or evidence by [Brent] that they absolute. According to Legaspi v. Civil Service
were engaged also in premarital sex." This only Commission, the constitutional guarantee to
goes to show that Cadiz did not flaunt her information "does not open every door to any and
premarital relations with her boyfriend and it was all information." It is limited to matters of public
not carried on under scandalous or disgraceful concern, and is subject to such limitations as may
circumstances. As declared in Leus, "there is no law be provided by law. Likewise, the State’s policy of
which penalizes an unmarried mother by reason of full public disclosure is restricted to transactions
her sexual conduct or proscribes the consensual involving public interest, and is further subject to
sexual activity between two unmarried persons; reasonable conditions prescribed by law.
that neither does such situation contravene[s] any
fundamental state policy enshrined in the Two requisites must concur before the right to
Constitution." The fact that Brent is a sectarian information may be compelled by writ of
institution does not automatically subject Cadiz to mandamus. Firstly, the information sought must be
its religious standard of morality absent an express in relation to matters of public concern or public
statement in its manual of personnel policy and interest. And, secondly, it must not be exempt by
regulations, prescribing such religious standard as law from the operation of the constitutional
gauge as these regulations create the obligation on guarantee.
both the employee and the employer to abide by
the same. As to the first requisite, there is no rigid test in
determining whether or not a particular
Brent, likewise, cannot resort to the MRPS because information is of public concern or public interest.
the Court already stressed in Leus that "premarital Both terms cover a wide-range of issues that the
sexual relations between two consenting adults public may want to be familiar with either because
who have no impediment to marry each other, and, the issues have a direct effect on them or because
consequently, conceiving a child out of wedlock, the issues "naturally arouse the interest of an
gauged from a purely public and secular view of ordinary citizen." As such, whether or not the
morality, does not amount to a disgraceful or information sought is of public interest or public
immoral conduct under Section 94(e) of the 1992 concern is left to the proper determination of the
MRPS." (Capin-Cadiz v. Brent Hospital and Colleges, courts on a case to case basis. (Sereno v. Committee
Inc., G.R. No. 187417, February 24, 2016) on Trade and Related Matters of the NEDA, G.R. No.
175210, February 1, 2016)
Right to Information
The second requisite is that the information
The constitutional guarantee of the right to requested must not be excluded by law from the
information on matters of public concern constitutional guarantee. In that regard, the Court
enunciated in Section 7 of Article III of the 1987 has already declared that the constitutional
Constitution complements the State’s policy of full guarantee of the people’s right to information does
public disclosure in all transactions involving not cover national security matters and intelligence
public interest expressed in Section 28 of Article II information, trade secrets and banking transactions
of the 1987 Constitution. These provisions are and criminal matters. Equally excluded from
aimed at ensuring transparency in policy-making coverage of the constitutional guarantee are
as well as in the operations of the Government, and diplomatic correspondence, closed-door Cabinet
at safeguarding the exercise by the people of the meeting and executive sessions of either house of
freedom of expression. In a democratic society like Congress, as well as the internal deliberations of
ours, the free exchange of information is necessary, the Supreme Court. In Chavez v. Public Estates
and can be possible only if the people are provided Authority, the Court has ruled that the right to
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
information does not extend to matters committee tasked to give tariff recommendations to
acknowledged as "privileged information under the President were truly imperative.
the separation of powers," which include
"Presidential conversations, correspondences, or Every claim of exemption, being a limitation on a
discussions during closed-door Cabinet meetings." right constitutionally granted to the people, is
Likewise exempted from the right to information liberally construed in favor of disclosure and
are "information on military and diplomatic secrets, strictly against the claim of confidentiality.
information affecting national security, and However, the claim of privilege as a cause for
information on investigations of crimes by law exemption from the obligation to disclose
enforcement agencies before the prosecution of the information must be clearly asserted by specifying
accused." the grounds for the exemption. In case of denial of
access to the information, it is the government
The respondents claim exemption on the ground agency concerned that has the burden of showing
that the May 23, 2005 meeting was classified as a that the information sought to be obtained is not a
closed-door Cabinet meeting by virtue of the matter of public concern, or that the same is
committee’s composition and the nature of its exempted from the coverage of the constitutional
mandate dealing with matters of foreign affairs, guarantee. We reiterate, therefore, that the burden
trade and policy-making. They assert that the has been well discharged herein. (Sereno v.
information withheld was within the scope of the Committee on Trade and Related Matters of the NEDA,
exemption from disclosure because the CTRM G.R. No. 175210, February 1, 2016)
meetings were directly related to the exercise of the
sovereign prerogative of the President as the Head In Senate of the Philippines v. Ermita, we have said
of State in the conduct of foreign affairs and the that executive privilege is properly invoked in
regulation of trade, as provided in Section 3 (a) of relation to specific categories of information, not to
Rule IV of the Rules Implementing R.A. No. 6713. categories of persons. As such, the fact that some
xxx. members of the committee were not part of the
President’s Cabinet was of no moment. What
The respondents are correct. It is always necessary, should determine whether or not information was
given the highly important and complex powers to within the ambit of the exception from the people’s
fix tariff rates vested in the President, that the right to access to information was not the
recommendations submitted for the President’s composition of the body, but the nature of the
consideration be well-thought out and well- information sought to be accessed. A different
deliberated. The Court has expressly recognized in holding would only result to the unwanted
Chavez v. Public Estates Authority that "a frank situation wherein any concerned citizen, like the
exchange of exploratory ideas and assessments, petitioner, invoking the right to information on a
free from the glare of publicity and pressure by matter of public concern and the State's policy of
interested parties, is essential to protect the full public disclosure, could demand information
independence of decision-making of those tasked from any government agency under all conditions
to exercise Presidential, Legislative and Judicial whenever he felt aggrieved by the decision or
power." In Almonte v. Vasquez, the Court has recommendation of the latter.
stressed the need for confidentiality and privacy,
stating thusly: "A President and those who assist In case of conflict, there is a need to strike a balance
him must be free to explore alternatives in the between the right of the people and the interest of
process of shaping policies and making decisions the Government to be protected. Here, the need to
and to do so in a way many would be unwilling to ensure the protection of the privilege of non-
express except privately." Without doubt, disclosure is necessary to allow the free exchange
therefore, ensuring and promoting the free of ideas among Government officials as well as to
exchange of ideas among the members of the guarantee the well-considered recommendation
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
free from interference of the inquisitive public. the conduct of associations seeking state
(Sereno v. Committee on Trade and Related Matters of recognition:
the NEDA, G.R. No. 175210, February 1, 2016)
The theory to the effect that Section 23
Freedom of Association of Republic Act No. 875 unduly curtails
the freedom of assembly and association
Reference to an approving authority in order that guaranteed in the Bill of Rights is
devoid of factual basis. The registration
an organization may be given official recognition
prescribed in paragraph (b) of said
by state organs, and thus vested with the
Section is not a limitation to the right of
competencies and privileges attendant to such assembly or association, which may be
recognition, is by no means unique to PTAs. By exercised with or without said
way of example, similar processes and registration. The latter is merely a
requirements are observed and adhered to by condition sine qua non for the
organizations seeking recognition as business acquisition of legal personality by labor
organizations (e.g., corporations), government organizations, associations or unions
contractors, legitimate labor organizations, and and the possession of the "rights and
political parties participating in the party-list privileges granted by law to legitimate
labor organizations." The Constitution
does not guarantee these rights and
privileges, much less said personality,
The demarcation of the broad right to form which are mere statutory creations, for
associations vis-à-vis regulations such as the possession and exercise of which
registration, requisite approval by defined registration is required to protect both
authorities, and other such formalities is settled in labor and the public against abuses,
jurisprudence. fraud, or impostors who pose as
organizers, although not truly
In Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions v. accredited agents of the union they
purport to represent. Such requirement
Secretary of Labor, this court was confronted with
is a valid exercise of the police power,
allegations that Section 23 of Republic Act No. 875,
because the activities in which labor
otherwise known as the Industrial Peace Act, organizations, associations and union of
which spelled out the requirements for registration workers are engaged affect public
of labor organizations, "unduly curtail[ed] the interest, which should be protected.
freedom of assembly and association guaranteed in Furthermore, the obligation to submit
the Bill of Rights." financial statements, as a condition for
the non-cancellation of a certificate of
Sustaining the validity of Section 23, this court put registration, is a reasonable regulation
to rest any qualms about how registration and for the benefit of the members of the
organization, considering that the same
approval, as requisites to the acquisition of legal
generally solicits funds or membership,
personality and the exercise of rights and privileges
as well as oftentimes collects, on behalf
that are accorded to an officially recognized of its members, huge amounts of money
organization, are not incompatible with the right to due to them or to the organization.
form associations. (Quezon City PTCA Federation, (Citations omitted)
Inc. v. Department of Education, G.R. No. 188720,
February 23, 2016) The right to organize does not equate to the state’s
obligation to accord official status to every single
On the contrary, this court underscored that the association that comes into existence. It is one thing
establishment of these requirements is a valid for individuals to galvanize themselves as a
exercise of police power as public interest underlies collective, but it is another for the group that they
formed to not only be formally recognized by the
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
state, but also bedecked with all the benefits and exercise should be for purposes "not contrary to
privileges that are attendant to official status. In law." In the case of Art. 245, there is a rational basis
pursuit of public interest, the state can set for prohibiting managerial employees from
reasonable regulations—procedural, formal, and forming or joining labor organizations. (Quezon
substantive—with which organizations seeking City PTCA Federation, Inc. v. Department of
state imprimatur must comply. (Quezon City PTCA Education, G.R. No. 188720, February 23, 2016)
Federation, Inc. v. Department of Education, G.R. No.
188720, February 23, 2016) To be sure, the Court in Philips Industrial was
dealing with the right of confidential employees to
In this court’s January 9, 1973 Resolution, In the organize. But the same reason for denying them the
Matter of the Integration of the Bar of the Philippines, right to organize justifies even more the ban on
this court underscored the importance of the state’s managerial employees from forming unions. After
regulation of the collectivity (although hitherto all, those who qualify as top or middle managers
"unorganized and incohesive") of those who, by are executives who receive from their employers
their admission to the bar, are burdened with information that not only is confidential but also is
responsibilities to society, courts, colleagues, and not generally available to the public, or to their
clients. (Quezon City PTCA Federation, Inc. v. competitors, or to other employees. It is hardly
Department of Education, G.R. No. 188720, February necessary to point out that to say that the first
23, 2016) sentence of Art. 245 is unconstitutional would be to
contradict the decision in that case. (Quezon City
For the same purpose of protecting and advancing PTCA Federation, Inc. v. Department of Education,
public interest, this court has sustained the validity G.R. No. 188720, February 23, 2016)
not only of those requirements relating to the
establishment and registration of associations, but A parent-teacher association is a mechanism for
also the substantive standards delimiting who may effecting the role of parents (who would otherwise
join organizations. This is illustrated in United be viewed as outsiders) as an indispensable
Pepsi-Cola Supervisory Union v. Laguesma, where element of educational communities. Rather than
this court recognized the validity of the first being totally independent of or removed from
sentence of Art. 245 of the Labor Code, which schools, a parent-teacher association is more aptly
prohibits managerial employees from forming, considered an adjunct of an educational
assisting, or joining labor organizations, in relation community having a particular school as its locus.
to Article III, Section 8 of the 1987 Constitution. It is an "arm" of the school. Given this view, the
Here, this court recognized that a classification importance of regulation vis-à-vis investiture of
distinguishing managerial employees from rank- official status becomes manifest. According a
and-file employees permitted to form and join parent-teacher association official status not only
labor organizations is grounded on identifiable and enables it to avail itself of benefits and privileges
appreciable differences. Thus, "there is a rational but also establishes upon it its solemn duty as a
basis for prohibiting managerial employees from pillar of the educational system. (Quezon City PTCA
forming or joining labor organizations;" and, "as to Federation, Inc. v. Department of Education, G.R. No.
[managerial employees] the right of self- 188720, February 23, 2016)
organization may be regulated and even abridged."
(Quezon City PTCA Federation, Inc. v. Department of
Education, G.R. No. 188720, February 23, 2016)

Nor is the guarantee of organizational right in Art.

III, §8 infringed by a ban against managerial Free Access to Courts
employees forming a union. The right guaranteed
in Art. III, §8 is subject to the condition that its
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
This guarantee of free access to the courts is 21 of Rule 3 provides that the adverse party may
extended to litigants who may be indigent by later still contest the grant of such authority at any
exempting them from the obligation to pay docket time before judgment is rendered by the trial court,
and filing fees. But not everyone who claims to be possibly based on newly discovered evidence not
indigent may demand free access to the courts. In obtained at the time the application was heard;
Re: Query of Mr. Roger C. Prioreschi Re Exemption that, if the trial court determines after hearing that
from Legal and Filing Fees of the Good Shepherd the party declared as an indigent is in fact a person
Foundation, Inc., the Court has declared that the with sufficient income or property, the proper
exemption may be extended only to natural party docket and other lawful fees shall be assessed and
litigants; the exemption may not be extended to collected by the clerk of court; and that if payment
juridical persons even if they worked for indigent is not made within the time fixed by the trial court,
and underprivileged people because the execution shall issue or the payment of the
Constitution has explicitly premised the free access prescribed fees shall be made, without prejudice to
clause on a person's poverty, a condition that only other sanctions that the trial court may impose.
a natural person can suffer. To prevent the abuse of (Pangcatan v. Maghuyop, G.R. No. 194412,
the exemption, therefore, the Court has November 16, 2016)
incorporated Section 21, Rule 3 and Section 19, Rule
141 in the Rules of Court in order to set the Under the circumstances, the CA grossly erred in
guidelines implementing as well as regulating the annulling and setting aside the judgment of the
exercise of the right of free access to the courts. RTC based solely on the non-payment of the filing
(Pangcatan v. Maghuyop, G.R. No. 194412, fees. If the RTC had incorrectly granted Pangcatan's
November 16, 2016) Ex Parte Motion for Leave to File Case as Pauper
Litigant, the grant was not jurisdictional but an
Algura stipulates that when the application to error of judgment on its part as the trial court. It
litigate as an indigent litigant is filed, the trial court can hardly be disputed that the RTC apparently
shall scrutinize the affidavits and supporting believed based on its erroneous application of the
documents submitted by the applicant to aforementioned guidelines set by the Rules of Court
determine if he complies with the income and that Pangcatan was entitled to be exempted from
property standards prescribed in the present the payment of the filing fees because his daily
Section 19 of Rule 141—that his gross income and income was P400.00.
that of his immediate family do not exceed an
amount double the monthly minimum wage of an It is true that the non-payment of the filing fees
employee; and that he does not own real property usually prevents the trial court from acquiring
with a fair market value of more than P300,000.00; jurisdiction over the claim stated in the complaint
that if the trial court finds that he meets the income But for the CA to annul the judgment rendered
and property requirements, the authority to litigate after trial based solely on such non-payment was
as indigent litigant is automatically granted, and not right and just considering that the non-
the grant is a matter of right; that, however, if the payment of the filing fees had not been entirely
trial court finds that one or both requirements have attributable to the plaintiff alone. The trial court
not been met, it should then set a hearing to enable was more, if not exclusively, to blame for the
the applicant to prove that he has "no money or omission. For sure, all that Pangcatan had done
property sufficient and available for food, shelter was to apply for the exemption, leaving to the RTC
and basic necessities for himself and his family;" the decision whether or not to grant his application.
that in that hearing, the adverse party may adduce Moreover, the CA disregarded the fact that the
countervailing evidence to disprove the evidence RTC, through its order of September 4, 2002, had
presented by the applicant; that, afterwards, the granted his Ex Parte Motion for Leave to File Case as
trial court will rule on the application depending Pauper Litigant and had allowed him to litigate as
on the evidence adduced; that, in addition, Section an indigent party subject to the condition that the
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
legal fees would constitute a first lien on the simply its recognition of the limits of that power;
monetary judgment to be rendered after trial. and that, in particular, such acknowledgment
reflected a keen awareness that, in the exercise of
At any rate, Pangcatan was represented from the its rule-making power, it may not dilute or defeat
start by the Public Attorney's Office (PAO). The the right of access to justice of indigent litigants.
exemption of the clients of the PAO like him from
the payment of the legal fees was expressly The exemption of clients of the PAO from the
declared by law for the first time in Republic Act payment of the legal fees under Republic Act No.
No. 9406, particularly its amendment of Section 16- 9406 and OCA Circular No. 121-2007 was not yet a
D of the Administrative Code of 1987, as follows: matter of law at the time Pangcatan initiated Civil
Case No. 1888-02 on September 4, 2002. Yet, we
Section 16-D. Exemption from Fees and cannot avoid applying the exemption in his favor
Costs of the Suit.- The clients of the for purposes of this case. The remand to the RTC
PAO shall be exempt from payment of for the purpose of determining the factual basis for
docket and other fees incidental to the exemption would be superfluous. To start with,
instituting an action in court and other
quasi-judicial bodies, as an original
the exemption, being a matter of procedure, can be
proceeding or on appeal. The costs of retrospectively applied to his case. It is
the suit, attorney's fees and contingent fundamental wisdom, indeed, that procedural laws
fees imposed upon the adversary of the do not come within the legal conception of a
PAO clients after a successful litigation retroactive law, or the general rule against the
shall be deposited in the National retroactive operation of statutes, and, as such, they
Treasury as trust fund and shall be may be given retroactive effect on actions pending
disbursed for special allowances of and undetermined at the time of their passage.
authorized officials and lawyers of the Doing so will not violate any right of a person who
may feel that he is adversely affected, inasmuch as
there are no vested rights in rules of procedure.
Such exemption by virtue of Republic Act No. 9406
And, secondly, if the ultimate objective to be served
was recognized by the Court Administrator
by all courts is the administration of justice, the
through OCA Circular No. 67-2007, but the clients
remand of the case after the trial by the RTC would
of the PAO remained required to submit relevant
be unreasonable and burdensome on all the parties
documentation to comply with the conditions
as well as on the trial court.
prescribed by Section 19, Rule 141 of the Rules of
Court. Later on, the Court Administrator removed
Instead, the judgment of the RTC in favor of
the conditions prescribed under OCA Circular No.
Pangcatan and against Maghuyop and Bankiao
67-2007 by issuing Circular No. 121-2007. Since
should be allowed to stand. This appeal to the
then until the present, all clients of the PAO have
Court by the latter, which also delves into the
been exempt from the payment of docket and other
merits of the judgment against them, should fail as
fees incidental to instituting an action in court
to them for lack of any arguable error committed
whether as an original proceeding or on appeal.
by the trial court. The records contain no evidence
adduced by them considering that they had waived
It is notable that the Court has pointed out in its
their evidence on any legitimate defenses they
ruling in Re: Petition for Recognition of the Exemption
might have raised due to their being declared in
of the Government Service Insurance System from
default for non-filing of their answer. It would be
Payment of Legal Fees that its acknowledgment of
futile to still defer the judgment rendered upon
the exemption Bowed to the clients of the PAO
Pangcatan's evidence in order to still hear them
pursuant to Section 16D of the Administrative Code
thereafter. A party in default - of which both of
of 1987, as amended by Republic Act No. 9406, was
them were - could lift the default only by filing a
not an abdication of its rule-making power but
motion to set aside the default before judgment is
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
rendered. Their right to appeal the judgment by pretended to be customers, and even asked about
default notwithstanding, their chances of reversing the products that were for sale. The three had told
the adverse judgment are nil, for in the first place Edward that they were going to pay, but Pepino
they had no answer whereby they would have "pulled out a gun" instead. After Pepino's
controverted the allegations of fact against them, companion had taken the money from the cashier's
and, necessarily, they had no evidence with which box, the malefactors handcuffed Edward and
to defeat the claim against them. forced him to go down to the parked car. From this
sequence of events, there was thus ample
Accordingly, we affirm the judgment rendered in opportunity for Edward - before and after the gun
favor of Pangcatan. (Pangcatan v. Maghuyop, G.R. had been pointed at him - to view the faces of the
No. 194412, November 16, 2016) three persons who entered his office. In addition,
Edward stated that Pepino had talked to him "[a]t
Out-of-Court Identification least once a day" during the four days that he was
detained. (People v. Pepino, G.R. No. 174471, January
In People v. Teehankee, Jr. (319 Phil.128(1995), the 12, 2016)
Court explained the procedure for out-of-court
identification and the test to determine the The trial court and the Court of Appeals correctly
admissibility of such identifications in this manner: found the out-of-court identification made by
Cordero to have satisfied the totality of
Out-of-court identification is conducted circumstances test. xxx. Cordero was able to see the
by the police in various ways. It is done faces of the men who abducted him from his house
thru show-ups where the suspect alone due to the light emanating from the pedestrian
is brought face to face with the witness gate. He was also able to describe how these men
for identification. It is done thru mug
approached him, the kind of firearms they were
shots where photographs are shown to
carrying, how the men acted where they passed,
the witness to identify the suspect. It is
also done thru lineups where a witness where he was taken, and even the sounds he heard.
identifies the suspect from a group of Cordero’s testimonies were replete with detailed
persons lined up for the purpose x x x In descriptions of how he was abducted and who
resolving the admissibility of and abducted him. To top it all, he was confident that
relying on out-of-court identification of he could identify his abductors, as he did at the
suspects, courts have adopted the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group
totality of circumstances test where (CIDG), Camp Pantaleon Garcia, Imus, Cavite, and
they consider the following factors, viz: in open court. (People v. Lugnasin, G.R. No. 208404,
(1) the witness' opportunity to view the
February 24, 2016)
criminal at the time of the crime; (2) the
witness' degree of attention at that time;
(3) the accuracy of any prior description Custodial Investigation
given by the witness; (4) the level of
certainty demonstrated by the witness at Custodial investigation commences when a person
the identification; (5) the length of time is taken into custody and is singled out as a suspect
between the crime and the in the commission of the crime under investigation.
identification; and (6) the (See People v. Pavilare, 386 Phil. 126, 136 [2000]) As
suggestiveness of the identification a rule, a police lineup is not part of the custodial
procedure. investigation; hence, the right to counsel
guaranteed by the Constitution cannot yet be
Applying the totality-of-circumstances test, we find invoked at this stage. The right to be assisted by
Edward's out-of-court identification to be reliable counsel attaches only during custodial
and thus admissible. To recall, when the three investigation and cannot be claimed by the accused
individuals entered Edward's office, they initially during identification in a police lineup. (See People
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
v. Lara, G.R. No. 199877, August 13, 2012, 678 SCRA foreclose the admissibility of an
332) Defense witness Reynaldo, however, independent in-court identification." We
maintained that Pepino and Gomez were among also stress that all the accused-
those already presented to the media as kidnapping appellants were positively identified by
the prosecution eyewitnesses during the
suspects by the DOJ a day before the police lineup
was made. In this sense, the appellants were
already the focus of the police and were thus
It is also significant to note that despite the
deemed to be already under custodial investigation
overwhelming evidence adduced by the
when the out-of-court identification was
prosecution, Pepino and Gomez did not even
conducted. Nonetheless, the defense did not
testify for their respective defenses. (People v.
object to the in-court identification for having
Pepino, G.R. No. 174471, January 12, 2016)
been tainted by an irregular out-of-court
identification in a police lineup. They focused,
The right to be assisted by counsel is an
instead, on the legality of the appellants' arrests.
indispensable component of due process in
Whether Edward and Jocelyn could have seen
criminal prosecution. As such, right to counsel is
Pepino and Gomez in various media fora that
one of the most sacrosanct rights available to the
reported the presentation of the kidnapping
accused. A deprivation of the right to counsel
suspects to the media is not for the Court to
strips the accused of an equality in arms resulting
speculate on. The records merely show that when
in the denial of a level playing field. Simply put, an
defense counsel, Atty. Caesar Esturco, asked
accused without counsel is essentially deprived of a
Jocelyn during cross-examination whether she was
fair hearing which is tantamount to a grave denial
aware that there were several kidnap-for-ransom
of due process. (Ibanez v. People, G.R. No.190798,
incidents in Metro Manila, the latter answered that
January 27, 2016)
she "can read in the newspapers." At no time did
Jocelyn or Edward ever mention that they saw the
Extrajudicial Confessions
appellants from the news reports in print or on
television. At any rate, the appellants' respective
In his Appeal, Antonio insists that his extrajudicial
convictions in this case were based on an
confession is inadmissible on the ground that it was
independent in-court identification made by
Edward and Jocelyn, and not on the out-of-court given under a "coercive physical or psychological
identification during the police lineup. We atmosphere." To support his claim, Antonio
reiterate that the RTC and the CA found the court underscores the fact that he was inside a detention
testimonies of these witnesses to be positive and cell with two (2) or three (3) other detainees when
credible, and that there was no showing that their he allegedly confessed to the crime before the
factual findings had been arrived at .arbitrarily. media. xxx. We are not persuaded. At the outset,
The in-court identification thus cured whatever we note that Antonio had already admitted in his
irregularity might have attended the police lineup. Appellant's Brief that he was not under custodial
As the Court ruled in People v. Algarme (G.R No. investigation at the time he gave his extrajudicial
175978, February 12, 2009, 578 SCRA 601, 619 citing confession xxx. Hence, Antonio's reliance on
People v. Timon, G.R. Nos. 97841-42, November 12, constitutional safeguards is misplaced as much as it
1997, 281 SCRA 577, 592): is unfounded. We need not belabor this point.

Even assuming arguendo the appellants' At this juncture, it bears stressing that during the
out-of-court identification was defective, separate occasions that Antonio was interviewed
their subsequent identification in court by the news reporters, there was no indication of
cured any flaw that may have initially the presence of any police officers within the
attended it. We emphasize that the proximity who could have possibly exerted undue
"inadmissibility of a police lineup pressure or influence. As recounted by both
identification xxx should not necessarily
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
reporters during their testimonies, Antonio individual exist without need of any
voluntarily narrated how he perpetrated the crime governmental grant, rights that may not
in a candid and straightforward manner, "with no be taken away by government, rights
trace of fear, intimidation or coercion in him." that government has the duty to protect.
xxx (Emphasis supplied)
(People v. Dacanay, G.R. No. 216064, November 7,
The fact that the extrajudicial confession was made
by Antonio while inside a detention cell does not
On this score, our pronouncements in People v.
by itself render such confession inadmissible,
Andan are instructive. In said case, we held that a
contrary to what Antonio would like this Court to
confession made before news reporters, absent any
believe. In People v. Domantay, where the accused
showing of undue influence from the police
was also interviewed while inside a jail cell, this
authorities, is sufficient to sustain a conviction for
Court held that such circumstance alone does not
the crime confessed to by the accused:
taint the extrajudicial confession of the accused,
especially since the same was given freely and
Clearly, appellant's confessions to the
news reporters were given free from any spontaneously:
undue influence from the police
authorities. The news reporters acted as Accused-appellant claims, however,
news reporters when they interviewed that the atmosphere in the jail when he
appellant. They were not acting under was interviewed was "tense and
the direction and control of the police. intimidating" and was similar to that
They were there to check appellant's which prevails in a custodial
confession to the mayor. They did not investigation. We are not persuaded.
force appellant to grant them an Accused-appellant was interviewed
interview and reenact the commission of while he was inside his cell. The
the crime. In fact, they asked his interviewer stayed outside the cell and
permission before interviewing him. the only person besides him was an
They interviewed him on separate days uncle of the victim. Accused-appellant
not once did appellant protest his could have refused to be interviewed,
innocence. Instead, he repeatedly but instead, he agreed. He answered
confessed his guilt to them. He even questions freely and spontaneously.
supplied all the details in the According to Celso Manuel, he said he
commission of the crime, and was willing to accept the consequences
consented to its reenactment. All his of his act.
confessions to the news reporters were
witnessed by his family and other Celso Manuel admitted that there were
relatives. There was no coercive indeed some police officers around
atmosphere in the interview of because about two to three meters from
appellant by the news reporters. the jail were the police station and the
radio room. We do not think the
We rule that appellant's verbal presence of the police officers exerted
confessions to the newsmen are not any undue pressure or influence on
covered by Section 12 (1) and (3) of accused-appellant and coerced him
Article III of the Constitution. The Bill into giving his confession.
of Rights does not concern itself with
the relation between a private Accused-appellant contends that "it
individual and another individual. It is...not altogether improbable for the
governs the relationship between the police investigators to ask the police
individual and the State. The reporter (Manuel) to try to elicit some
prohibitions therein are primarily incriminating information from the
addressed to the State and its agents. accused." This is pure conjecture.
They confirm that certain rights of the Although he testified that he had
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
interviewed inmates before, there is no With respect to appellant Devincio’s
evidence to show that Celso was a argument that his rights under RA 7438
police beat reporter. Even assuming that were violated while he was under
he was, it has not been shown that, in custodial investigation, aside from his
conducting the interview in question, bare-faced claim, he has offered no
his purpose was to elicit incriminating evidence to sustain such claim; and
information from accused-appellant. To appellant Devincio (or appellant
the contrary, the media are known to Vicente, for that matter) has not
take an opposite stance against the executed an extrajudicial confession or
government by exposing official admission for, as stated in People vs.
wrongdoings. Buluran and Valenzuela:

Indeed, there is no showing that the There is no violation of the

radio reporter was acting for the police constitutional rights of the accused
or that the interview was conducted during custodial investigation since
under circumstances where it is neither one executed an extrajudicial
apparent that accused-appellant confession or admission. In fact, the
confessed to the killing out of fear. xxx records show that appellant Cielito
(Emphasis supplied) Buluran opted to remain silent during
custodial investigation. Any allegation
Following this Court's ruling in People v. Jerez, the of violation of rights during custodial
details surrounding the commission of the crime, investigation is relevant and material
which could be supplied only by the accused, and only to cases in which an extrajudicial
admission or confession extracted from
the spontaneity and coherence exhibited by him
the accused becomes the basis of their
during his interviews, belie any insinuation of conviction. (People v. Lugnasin, G.R. No.
duress that would render his confession 208404, February 24, 2016)
Petitioner's uncounselled admission during the
Notably, while Antonio's testimony is replete with confrontation at the police station is inadmissible in
imputations of violence and coercion, no other evidence. The Court of Appeals held that "[t]he
evidence was presented to buttress these desperate constitutional procedures on custodial
claims. Neither was there any indication that investigation do not apply to a spontaneous
Antonio instituted corresponding criminal or statement, not elicited through questioning by the
administrative actions against the police officers authorities, but given in an ordinary manner
allegedly responsible. It is well-settled that where whereby the accused orally admits having
the accused fails to present evidence of compulsion; committed the crime." However, the record shows
where he did not institute any criminal or that petitioner's appearance before the police
administrative action against his supposed station was far from being voluntary. xxx. In this
intimidators for maltreatment; and where no case, the so-called "request for appearance" is no
physical evidence of violence was presented, all different from the "invitation" issued by police
these will be considered as factors indicating officers for custodial investigation.
voluntariness. (People v. Dacanay, G.R. No. 216064,
November 7, 2016) Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7438 provides:

As regards accused-appellant Devincio’s argument SEC. 2. Rights of Persons Arrested,

that his rights under Republic Act No. 7438 were Detained or under Custodial Investigation;
violated, we likewise uphold the following ruling Duties of Public Officers. - xxx
of the Court of Appeals:
As used in this Act, "custodial
investigation" shall include the practice
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
of issuing an "invitation" to a person We agree with the Sol Gen. that extra-judicial
who is investigated in connection with confession given by accused-appellant during the
an offense he is suspected to have interview conducted by the field reporter is
committed, without prejudice to the admissible in evidence. Accused-appellant asserts
liability of the "inviting" officer for any
that the confession was involuntarily given and
violation of law.
Custodial investigation has also been
was made under extreme fear because he was
defined as: interviewed while he was inside the detention cell
and while surrounded by police officers. We are
Custodial investigation commences not persuaded. That the confession was given
when a person is taken into custody and without the assistance of counsel and was therefore
is singled out as a suspect in the involuntary is immaterial. We have consistently
commission of a crime under held that the Bill of Rights does not concern itself
investigation and the police officers with relations between private individuals. The
begin to ask questions on the suspect's prohibitions therein are primarily addressed to the
participation therein and which tend to
State and its agents; thus, accused-appellant's
elicit an admission.
confession to field reporter Tacason is not covered
by Section 12(1) and (3) of Article III of the
The circumstances surrounding petitioner's
Constitution. Furthermore, accused-appellant
appearance before the police station falls within the
would have this Court believe that the confession
definition of custodial investigation. Petitioner was
was given under a tense and fearful atmosphere,
identified as a suspect in the theft of large cattle.
similar to that of a custodial investigation. In a
Thus, when the request for appearance was issued,
previous case with similar circumstances, We
he was already singled out as the probable culprit.
observed that the presence of the police officers did
not exert any undue pressure or influence on the
accused, coercing him into giving his confession.
People v. Chavez discussed that the so-called
The interview was not in the nature of a custodial
Miranda rights "are intended to protect ordinary
investigation as the response of the accused-
citizens from the pressures of a custodial setting."
appellant was made in answer to questions asked
The confrontation between Teresita and petitioner
by the reporter and not by the police. There is no
can be considered as having been done in a
showing that the field reporter colluded with the
custodial setting because (1) petitioner was
police authorities to elicit inculpatory evidence
requested to appear by the police; (2) the
against accused-appellant. Neither is there
confrontation was done in a police station; and (3)
anything on record which suggests that the
based on his testimony, PO3 Lozarito was inside
reporter was instructed by the police to extract
the police station during the confrontation. When
information from him. Moreover, accused-
petitioner appeared before Teresita at the police
appellant could have refused to be interviewed, but
station, the "pressures of a custodial setting" were
instead, he agreed. A review of the taped interview
present. xxx. People v. Bio has held that "the
would show that he answered the questions freely
infractions of the so-called Miranda rights render
and spontaneously. (People v. Balmonte, G.R. No.
inadmissible only the extrajudicial confession or
200537, July 13, 2016)
admission made during custodial investigation."
As can be gleaned from both the taped interview
With this rule applied and petitioner's
and the testimony of the reporter, accused-
uncounselled admission disregarded, petitioner
appellant's confession was replete with details
should still be acquitted because the prosecution
describing the manner by which the crime was
was unable to prove the identity of the lost carabao
committed. This Court has held that "the
owned by Mario and Teresita Perez. (Lopez v.
voluntariness of a confession may be inferred from
People, G.R. No. 212186, June 29, 2016)
its language such that if, upon its face, the
confession exhibits no sign of suspicious
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
circumstances tending to cast doubt upon its evidence. R.A. No. 7438, the law defining the rights
integrity, it being replete with details which could of persons under custodial investigation, provides:
be supplied only by the accused reflecting
spontaneity and coherence which, psychologically, "Section 2. (d) - Any extrajudicial
cannot be associated with a mind to which violence confession made by a person arrested,
and torture have been applied, it may be detained or under custodial
considered voluntary." In the often cited case of investigation shall be in writing and
United States v. De los Santos, We stated: signed by such person in the presence of
his counsel or in the latter's absence,
upon a valid waiver, and in the presence
"If a confession be free and voluntary—
of any of the parents, elder brothers and
the deliberate act of the accused with a
sisters, his spouse, the municipal mayor,
full comprehension of its significance,
the municipal judge, district school
there is no impediment to its admission
supervisor, or priest or minister of the
as evidence, and it then becomes
gospel as chosen by him; otherwise,
evidence of a high order; since it is
such extrajudicial confession shall be
supported by the presumption—a very
inadmissible as evidence in any
strong one—that no person of normal
mind will deliberately and knowingly
confess himself to be the perpetrator of a
crime, especially if it be a serious crime, The admission made by accused-appellant was
unless prompted by truth and neither put into writing nor made in the presence
conscience." of persons mentioned in the law. Thus, there can be
no conclusion other than that the extra-judicial
Rule 133, Section 3 of the Rules of Court provides confession is inadmissible in evidence.
that an extra-judicial confession shall not be a Nevertheless, the positive identification of accused-
sufficient ground for conviction, unless appellant as the perpetrator of the crime warrants
corroborated by evidence of corpus delicti. In the his conviction. (People v. Bacero, G.R. No. 208527,
case at bar, the confession made by accused- July 20, 2016)
appellant was corroborated by other evidence.
While there was no prosecution witness who Right to Bail
positively identified accused-appellant as the
assailant, his culpability was nonetheless proven It is basic, however, that bail hearing is necessary
through circumstantial evidence. (People v. even if the prosecution does not interpose any
Balmonte, G.R. No. 200537, July 13, 2016) objection or leaves the application for bail to the
sound discretion of the court. (Basco v. Judge
Accused-appellant claims that he was coerced into Rapatalo, 336 Phil. 214, 220-221 [1997]) Thus, in
admitting the crime. We hold that his allegation of Villanueva v. Judge Buaya (650 Phil. 9 [2010]), therein
being subjected to torture does not find support in respondent judge was held administratively liable
the evidence on record. There was no proof, such as for gross ignorance of the law for granting an ex
a medical certificate, that would show that accused- parte motion for bail without conducting a hearing.
appellant suffered bodily harm while under the Stressing the necessity of bail hearing, this Court
custody of police officers. In previous cases, the pronounced that:
Court has disregarded allegations of torture when
the accused did not file any complaint against his The Court has always stressed the indispensable
alleged malefactors for maltreatment. nature of a bail hearing in petitions for bail.
Notwithstanding the fact that torture was not Where bail is a matter of discretion, the grant or
the denial of bail hinges on the issue of whether
sufficiently proven, the extra-judicial confession
or not the evidence on the guilt of the accused is
made at the police station remains inadmissible in
strong and the determination of whether or not
the evidence is strong is a matter of judicial
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
discretion which remains with the judge. In discretionary. Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of
order for the judge to properly exercise this Court provides:
discretion, he must first conduct a hearing to
determine whether the evidence of guilt is Sec. 5. Bail, When Discretionary. – Upon
strong. This discretion lies not in the conviction by the Regional Trial Court
determination of whether or not a hearing of an offense not punishable by death,
should be held, but in the appreciation and reclusion perpetua, or life
evaluation of the weight of the prosecution's imprisonment, admission to bail is
evidence of guilt against the accused. discretionary. The application for bail
may be filed and acted upon by the trial
In any event, whether bail is a matter of right or court despite the filing of a notice of
discretion, a hearing for a petition for bail is appeal, provided it has not transmitted
required in order for the court to consider the the original record to the appellate
guidelines set forth in Section 9, Rule 114 of the court. xxx
Rules of Court in fixing the amount of bail. This
Court has repeatedly held in past cases that even if Should the court grant the application,
the prosecution fails to adduce evidence in the accused may be allowed to continue
on provisional liberty during the
opposition to an application for bail of an accused,
pendency of the appeal under the same
the court may still require the prosecution to
bail subject to the consent of the
answer questions in order to ascertain, not only the bondsman. xxx
strength of the State's evidence, but also the
adequacy of the amount of bail. (Balanay v. Judge Here, Davis was charged with the crimes of illegal
White, A.M. No. RTJ-16-2443, January 11, 2016) possession of dangerous drugs during a party and
illegal possession of drug paraphernalia during a
That the prosecution has already filed affidavits of party. Both offenses did not have a prescribed
desistance and that, to the opinion of respondent, penalty of death, reclusion perpetua or life
the accused is not a flight risk, do not justify non- imprisonment, thus, bail was a matter of right.
compliance with procedural rules. It is basic that Accordingly, Davis secured a surety bond with
bail cannot be allowed without prior hearing. It is Summit Guaranty & Insurance Company, Inc. on
also basic that litigious motions that do not contain May 6, 2005.
a notice of hearing are nothing but a useless piece
of paper which the court should not act upon. On August 8, 2005, Davis failed to appear before
(Balanay v. Judge White, A.M. No. RTJ-16-2443, the RTC which considered him to have jumped
January 11, 2016) bail. At that point, the RTC should have cancelled
the bailbond of Davis with Summit Guaranty &
Before conviction, bail is either a matter of right or Insurance Company, Inc. Although he was
of discretion. It is a matter of right when the offense subsequently arrested and arraigned on May 15,
charged is punishable by any penalty lower than 2008, it is alarming that no record of Davis’
death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. If the confinement in any detention facility was ever
offense charged is punishable by death, reclusion found.
perpetua or life imprisonment, bail becomes a
matter of discretion. In case bail is granted, the When the RTC promulgated its decision for
accused must appear whenever the court requires conviction, Davis and his counsel were present in
his presence; otherwise, his bail shall be forfeited. the courtroom. Yet, they did not file any motion for
bail pending appeal before the RTC or the CA.
When a person is finally convicted by the trial court Nonetheless, any motion for bail pending appeal
of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion should have been denied because Davis violated
perpetua, or life imprisonment, admission to bail is the conditions of his previous bail. Necessarily, as

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
he previously jumped bail and no bail pending he was first charged for the very serious crime in
appeal was secured, the R TC should have court was quite unique and very rare. To ignore his
immediately issued a warrant of arrest against him. advanced age and unstable health condition in
order to deny his right to bail on the basis alone of
In the same manner, the CA should not have the judicial discretion to deny bail would be
entertained the appeal of Davis. Once an accused probably unjust. To equate his situation with that
escapes from prison or confinement, jumps bail (as of the other accused indicted for a similarly serious
in this case), or flees to a foreign country, he loses offense would be inherently wrong when other
his standing in court. Unless he surrenders or conditions significantly differentiating his situation
submits to the jurisdiction of the court, he is from that of the latter's unquestionably existed.
deemed to have waived any right to seek relief
from the court. As no such surrender was made in Section 2, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court expressly
this case, in the eyes of the law, Davis is a fugitive states that one of the conditions of bail is for the
from justice and, therefore, not entitled to seek accused to "appear before the proper court
relief from the courts. (People v. Piad, G.R. No. whenever required by the court or these Rules."
213607, January 25, 2016) The practice of bail fixing supports this purpose.
Thus, in Villaseñor v. Abaño, the Court has
The Court finds no compelling or good reason to pronounced that "the principal factor considered
reverse its decision of August 18, 2015. xxx. (in bail fixing), to the determination of which most
factors are directed, is the probability of the
Clearly, the People were not denied the reasonable appearance of the accused, or of his flight to avoid
opportunity to challenge or refute the allegations punishment." The Court has given due regard to
about his advanced age and the instability of his the primary but limited purpose of granting bail,
health even if the allegations had not been directly which was to ensure that the petitioner would
made in connection with his Motion to Fix Bail. appear during his trial and would continue to
submit to the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan to
Secondly, the imputation of "preferential answer the charges levelled against him.
treatment" in "undue favor" of the petitioner is
absolutely bereft of basis. A reading of the decision Bail exists to ensure society's interest in having the
of August 18, 2015 indicates that the Court did not accused answer to a criminal prosecution without
grant his provisional liberty because he was a unduly restricting his or her liberty and without
sitting Senator of the Republic. It did so because ignoring the accused's right to be presumed
there were proper bases - legal as well as factual - innocent. It does not perform the function of
for the favorable consideration and treatment of his preventing or licensing the commission of a crime.
plea for provisional liberty on bail. By its decision, The notion that bail is required to punish a person
the Court has recognized his right to bail by accused of crime is, therefore, fundamentally
emphasizing that such right should be curtailed misplaced. Indeed, the practice of admission to bail
only if the risks of flight from this jurisdiction were is not a device for keeping persons in jail upon
too high. In our view, however, the records mere accusation until it is found convenient to give
demonstrated that the risks of flight were low, or them a trial. The spirit of the procedure is rather to
even nil. The Court has taken into consideration enable them to stay out of jail until a trial with all
other circumstances, such as his advanced age and the safeguards has found and adjudged them
poor health, his past and present disposition of guilty. Unless permitted this conditional privilege,
respect for the legal processes, the length of his the individuals wrongly accused could be
public service, and his individual public and punished by the period of imprisonment they
private reputation. There was really no reasonable undergo while awaiting trial, and even handicap
way for the Court to deny bail to him simply them in consulting counsel, searching for evidence
because his situation of being 92 years of age when and witnesses, and preparing a defense. Hence, bail
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
acts as a reconciling mechanism to accommodate the complaint, forming of the task force and the
both the accused's interest in pretrial liberty and interview conducted by the TV crew. If the Chief
society's interest in assuring his presence at trial. Inspector's additional testimony was only limited
to those matters, it follows that when the
Admission to bail always involves the risk that the prosecution rested its case, not one of their
accused will take flight. This is the reason precisely witnesses testified as to the fact of hiring and
why the probability or the improbability of flight is recruitment and neither did the documentary
an important factor to be taken into consideration evidence submitted establish the same. Before this
in granting or denying bail, even in capital cases. Court is essentially the same set of evidence that
The exception to the fundamental right to bail was evaluated by the RTC when it ruled that the
should be applied in direct ratio to the extent of the evidence of guilt was not strong; we thus see no
probability of evasion of prosecution. Apparently, reason why the same set of evidence, only
an accused's official and social standing and his supplemented by a testimony regarding irrelevant
other personal circumstances are considered and procedural matters, would warrant a finding of
appreciated as tending to render his flight guilt beyond reasonable doubt. (People v.
improbable. Villanueva, G.R. No. 210798, September 14, 2016)

The petitioner has proven with more than sufficient …in cases involving non-bailable offenses, what is
evidence that he would not be a flight risk. For one, controlling is the determination of whether the
his advanced age and fragile state of health have evidence of guilt is strong which is a matter of
minimized the likelihood that he would make judicial discretion that remains with the judge. The
himself scarce and escape from the jurisdiction of judge is under legal obligation to conduct a hearing
our courts. The testimony of Dr. Jose C. Gonzales, whether summary or otherwise in the discretion of
Director of the Philippine General Hospital, the court to determine the existence of strong
showed that the petitioner was a geriatric patient evidence or lack of it against the accused to enable
suffering from various medical conditions, which, the judge to make an intelligent assessment of the
singly or collectively, could pose significant risks to evidence presented by the parties. "The court's
his life. The medical findings and opinions have grant or refusal of bail must contain a summary of
been uncontested by the Prosecution even in their the evidence of the prosecution on the basis of
present Motion for Reconsideration. (Enrile v. which should be formulated the judge's own
Sandiganbayan, Resolution on MR, G.R. No. 213847, conclusion on whether such evidence is strong
July 12, 2016) enough to indicate the guilt of the accused." In
People v. Plaza, the Court defined a summary
While the Court is aware that a bail hearing is hearing and expounded the court's discretionary
merely for the purpose if determining whether the power to grant bail to an accused. "A summary
evidence of guilt is strong and that the same is not hearing is defined as 'such brief and speedy
an adjudication upon the merits, we note that in the method of receiving and considering the evidence
case at bar, the RTC Order granting the petition for of guilt as is practicable and consistent with the
bail casts doubt upon accused-appellant's purpose of hearing which is merely to determine
conviction. In its Order granting the petition for the weight of evidence for the purposes of bail.' On
bail, the RTC noted that none of the prosecution such hearing, the Court does not sit to try the
witnesses testified as to the fact of hiring and merits or to enter into any nice inquiry as to the
recruitment. Considering that the only additional weight that ought to be allowed to the evidence for
witness the prosecution presented during trial was or against the accused, nor will it speculate on the
PCI Balbontin, it baffles this Court why the RTC outcome of the trial or on what further evidence
found accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable may be therein offered and admitted. The course of
doubt when the Chief Inspector's testimony was inquiry may be left to the discretion of the court
limited to procedural details regarding the filing of which may confine itself to receiving such evidence
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
as has reference to substantial matters, avoiding defense. If the prosecution cannot establish the
unnecessary examination and cross-examination." guilt of accused-appellant beyond reasonable
doubt, the defense is not even required to adduce
In the present case, the RTC held a summary evidence. The presumption of innocence on the
hearing and based on the summary of evidence, part of accused-appellant in this case thus must be
formulated its conclusion in denying the Petition to upheld. (People v. Yepes, G.R. No. 206766, April 6,
Bail. Respondents impugned said finding through 2016)
a Petition for Certiorari. The CA gave due course to
the Petition imputing grave abuse of discretion on When challenged by the evidence of a flawed chain
the part of the RTC in denying bail to respondents. of custody, the presumption of regularity cannot
The CA held that based on the evidence thus far prevail over the presumption of innocence of the
presented by the prosecution in the bail hearing, accused. Considering that the integrity of 3 of the 4
the evidence of guilt is not strong against Union links laid down by jurisprudence has been cast in
College particularly its employees and officers with doubt, and in line with the consistent holding of
respect to the charges filed against them. this Court, this doubt must be resolved in favor of
the accused-appellant. (People v. Siaton, G.R. No.
From a perspective of the CA Decision, the issue 208353, July 4, 2016)
therein resolved is not so much on the bail
application but already on the merits of the case. The burden of proving the guilt of the accused rests
The matters dealt therein involved the evaluation on the prosecution which must rely on the strength
of evidence which is not within the jurisdiction of of its own evidence and not on the weakness of the
the CA to resolve in a Petition for Certiorari. The defense. When moral certainty as to the culpability
findings and assessment of the trial court during hangs in the balance, acquittal on reasonable doubt
the bail hearing were only a preliminary appraisal inevitably becomes a matter of right irrespective of
of the strength of the prosecution's evidence for the the reputation of the accused, who enjoys the right
limited purpose of determining whether to be presumed innocent until the contrary is
respondents are entitled to be released on bail proved. With the failure of the prosecution to prove
during the pendency of the trial. (People v. with moral certainty the identity and existence of
Sobrepena, G.R. No. 204063, December 5, 2016) the dangerous drugs seized from her, appellant
deserves exoneration from the crimes charged.
Presumption of Innocence (People v. Garrucho, G.R. No. 220449, July 4, 2016)

The preventive suspension we impose pending It must be remembered that the presumption of
investigation is not a penalty but serves only as a regularity is a mere statutory and rebuttable
preventive measure as we explained above. presumption created under Rule 131, Section 3(m)
Because it is not a penalty, its imposition does not of the Rules of Court; to recognize it as sufficient to
violate the right of the accused to be presumed overturn the constitutional presumption of
innocent. (Office of the Court Administrator v. Judge innocence would be an unconstitutional act.
Ruiz, A.M. No. RTJ-13-2361 [Formerly OCA IPI No.
13-4144-RTJ], February 2, 2016) Without the presumption of regularity, testimonies
of the arresting officers must stand on their own
Even if accused-appellant failed to present merits and must sufficiently establish proof beyond
evidence with respect to his defense of denial or the reasonable doubt that the corpus delicti of the
ill motive that impelled the police officers to falsely offenses of illegal sale and illegal possession of
impute upon him the crime charged, the same is of dangerous drugs exists.
no moment. The evidence for the prosecution must
stand or fall on its own weight and cannot be
allowed to draw strength from the weakness of the
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
The defense evidence must likewise be so regarded acquitted of the charge under Section 12 of RA
without being hobbled by the presumption of No. 9165. Indeed, we cannot convict the petitioner
regularity. From the perspective of the defense, we for possession of drug paraphernalia when it was
cannot but note that the evidence for the defense is not proven beyond reasonable doubt that these
not strong as Cayas merely claimed that she was items were used or intended to be used as drug
framed, and implied that the plastic sachets paraphernalia. (Derilo v. People, G.R. No. 190466,
confiscated from her were planted. In this April 18, 2016)
jurisdiction, the defense of denial and frame-up,
like alibi, has been viewed with disfavor for it can In sum, the circumstantial evidence presented by
be easily concocted and is a common defense ploy the prosecution in this case failed to pass the test of
in drug cases. These weaknesses, however, do not moral certainty necessary to warrant petitioner's
add any strength nor can they help the conviction. Accusation is not synonymous with
prosecution's case because the evidence for the guilt. Not only that, where the inculpatory facts
prosecution must stand or fall on its own weight. In and circumstances are capable of two or more
the first place, if the prosecution cannot establish explanations or interpretations, one of which is
Cayas' guilt beyond reasonable doubt, the need for consistent with the innocence of the accused and
her to adduce evidence on her behalf, in fact, never the other consistent with his guilt, then the
arises. Thus, we go back to the conclusion that evidence does not meet or hurdle the test of moral
Cayas should be acquitted for failure of the certainty required for conviction. Accordingly, the
prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable prosecution failed to establish the elements of
doubt. (People v. Cayas, G.R. No. 206888, July 4, falsification of public documents. With the
2016; see als0 People v. Abenes, G.R. No. 210878, July prosecution having failed to discharge its burden of
7, 2016; People v. Bartolini, G.R. No. 215192, July 27, establishing petitioner's guilt beyond reasonable
2016; People v. Ameril, G.R. No. 203293, November doubt, this Court is constrained, as is its bounden
14, 2016; People v. Prudencio, G.R. No. 205148, duty when reasonable doubt persists, to acquit
November 16, 2016) him. (Corpuz v. People, G.R. Nos. 212656-57,
November 23, 2016)
In view of the many notable serious procedural
lapses committed by the buy-bust team, the benefit It is argued that Marcos committed offenses
of the presumption of the regularity of the involving moral turpitude for his gross human
performance of duty by the arresting officers is rights violations, massive graft and corruption, and
indubitably unwarranted. (People v. Reyes, G.R. No. dubious military records, as found by foreign and
199271, October 19, 2016) local courts as well as administrative agencies. By
going into exile, he deliberately evaded liability for
In the present case, there is no evidence showing his actions. And by allowing death to overtake him,
that the aluminum foil, tube, and lighters found in he inevitably escaped the prospect of facing
the petitioner's house were fit or intended for accountability for his crimes. They also contend
introducing any dangerous drug into the body. The that his removal in the 1986 popular uprising is a
prosecution did not bother to show that there were clear sign of his discharge from the AFP. The
traces of shabu on any of these alleged drug People Power Revolution was the direct exercise of
paraphernalia. In fact, it appears that the only the Filipinos' power to overthrow an illegitimate
evidence that the prosecution offered to prove this and oppressive regime. As a sovereign act, it
charge is the existence of the seized items by necessarily includes the power to adjudge him as
themselves. dishonorably discharged from the AFP. xxx.
Despite all these ostensibly persuasive arguments,
For the prosecution's failure to prove that the the fact remains that Marcos was not convicted by
items seized were intended to be used as drug final judgment of any offense involving moral
paraphernalia, the petitioner must also be turpitude. No less than the 1987 Constitution
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
mandates that a person shall not be held to answer on the strength of the prosecution.
for a criminal offense without due process of law Indeed, if the prosecution has not
and that, "[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused sufficiently established the guilt of the
accused, he has a right to be acquitted
shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved,
and released even if he presents
and shall enjoy the right to be heard by himself and
naught a shred of evidence. xxx (Italics
counsel, to be informed of the nature and cause of the omitted; emphasis supplied)
accusation against him, to have a speedy, impartial, and
public trial, to meet the witnesses face to face, and to
As a rule, findings of fact by the OMB, being an
have compulsory process to secure the attendance of
administrative agency, are deemed conclusive and
witnesses and the production of evidence in his behalf."
binding when supported by the records and based
Even the U.N. principles on reparation and to
on substantial evidence. In the same manner,
combat impunity cited by petitioners
findings of fact of the SB as trial court are accorded
unequivocally guarantee the rights of the accused,
great weight and respect. However, in cases where
xxx. (Ocampo v. Enriquez, G.R. No. 225973,
there is a misappreciation of facts, the Court will
November 8, 2016)
not hesitate to reverse the conclusions reached by
the trial court. At all times, the Court must be
The constitutional right to be presumed innocent
satisfied that in convicting the accused, the factual
until proven guilty can only be overthrown by
findings and conclusions of the trial court meet the
proof beyond reasonable doubt, that is, that degree
exacting standard of proof beyond reasonable
of proof that produces conviction in an
doubt. (Silor v. People, G.R. No. 201917, December 1,
unprejudiced mind. Hence, where the court
entertains a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the
accused, it is not only the right of the accused to be
freed; it is the court's constitutional duty to acquit
them. (Silor v. People, G.R. No. 201917, December 1,
Right to Counsel
In previous occasions, we have held that criminal
cases elevated to this Court by public officials from
The right to counsel is a fundamental right and is
the Sandiganbayan deserve the same thorough
intended to preclude the slightest coercion that
treatment as criminal cases brought up by ordinary
would lead the accused to admit something false.
citizens, simply because the constitutional
The right to counsel attaches upon the start of the
presumption of innocence must be overcome by
investigation, i.e., when the investigating officer
proof beyond reasonable doubt in both instances:
starts to ask questions to elicit information and/or
confessions or admissions from the accused. (See
The principle has been dinned into the
People v. Reyes, G.R.No.178300, March 17, 2009, 581
ears of the bench and the bar that in this
SCRA 91,718)
jurisdiction, accusation is not
synonymous with guilt. The accused is
protected by the constitutional There was no denial of right to counsel as evinced
presumption of innocence which the by the fact that the petitioners were not only
prosecution must overcome with assisted by a counsel de oficio during arraignment
contrary proof beyond reasonable and pre-trial but more so, their counsel de oficio
doubt. This Court has repeatedly actively participated in the proceedings before the
declared that even if the defense is trial court including the direct and cross-
weak, the case against the accused must examination of the witnesses. As aptly found by
fail if the prosecution is even weaker, for
the CA, the petitioners were duly represented by a
the conviction of the accused must rest
counsel de oficio all throughout the proceedings
not on the weakness of the defense but

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
except for one hearing when their court appointed and, hence, was denied of due process. (Inacay v.
lawyer was absent and Rodolfo and PO2 Sulit People, G.R. No. 223506, November 28, 2016)
presented their testimonies. As previously stated,
it was during said hearing when the trial court In People v. Santocildes, Jr., the Court held that:
declared that the cross-examination of the said two
prosecution witnesses was deemed waived. (Ibanez The presence and participation of
v. People, G.R. No.190798, January 27, 2016) counsel in criminal proceedings should
never be taken lightly. Even the most
Section 1, Article III of the Constitution provides intelligent or educated man may have
that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or no skill in the science of the law,
particularly in the rules of procedure,
property without due process of law. Section 14(2),
and, without counsel, he may be
Article III of the Constitution further mandates that convicted not because he is guilty but
in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy because he does not know how to
the right to be heard by himself and counsel. establish his innocence. The right of an
accused to counsel is guaranteed to
In criminal cases, the right of the accused to be minimize the imbalance in the
assisted by counsel is immutable. Otherwise, there adversarial system where the accused
will be a grave denial of due process. The right to is pitted against the awesome
counsel proceeds from the fundamental principle prosecutory machinery of the State.
of due process which basically means that a person Such a right proceeds from the
fundamental principle of due process
must be heard before being condemned. "Thus,
which basically means that a person
even if the judgment had become final and must be heard before being
executory, it may still be recalled, and the accused condemned. The due process
afforded the opportunity to be heard by himself requirement is a part of a person's basic
and counsel." rights; it is not a mere formality that
may be dispensed with or performed
"The right to counsel is absolute and may be perfunctorily.
invoked at all times. More so, in the case of an on-
going litigation, it is a right that must be exercised Considering that there was a denial of due process,
at every step of the way, with the lawyer faithfully there is a need to set aside the judgment of
keeping his client company." Unless the accused is conviction against Inacay and remand the case to
represented by a lawyer, there is great danger that the trial court for new, trial. Further, Manila, for
any defense presented in his behalf will be representing herself as a lawyer, should be held
inadequate considering the legal perquisites and liable for indirect contempt of court. (Inacay v.
skills needed in the court proceedings. This would People, G.R. No. 223506, November 28, 2016)
certainly be a denial of due process.
Motion to Quash
In this case, Inacay, during the proceedings before
the trial court and the appellate court, was If a motion to quash is based on a defect in the
represented by Manila who, based on the information that can be cured by amendment, the
Certification issued by the OBC, is not a lawyer. At court shall order that an amendment be made. Rule
that time, Inacay had no inkling that he was being 117, Section 4 of the Rules of Court states:
represented by a sham lawyer. It was only when
his conviction of the offense charged was upheld SEC. 4. Amendment of complaint or
by the appellate court did Inacay learn that Manila information. - If the motion to quash is
is not a lawyer. Clearly, Inacay was not assisted by based on an alleged defect of the
complaint or information which can be
counsel in the proceedings before the lower courts

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
cured by amendment, the court shall string of Supreme Court decisions,
order that an amendment be made. effectively curtails the State's right to
due process.
If it is based on the ground that the facts
charged do not constitute an offense, the In this case, petitioner Virginia Dio has not yet been
prosecution shall be given by the court arraigned; thus, Rule 117, Section 4 of the Rules of
an opportunity to correct the defect by
Court applies. If the information is defective, the
amendment. The motion shall be
granted if the prosecution fails to make
prosecution must be given the opportunity to
the amendment, or the complaint or amend it before it may be quashed.
information still suffers from the same
defect despite the amendment. Petitioner claims that Rule 117, Section 4 of the
Rules of Court applies only to informations that
This Court has held that failure to provide the can be cured by amendment. She argues that before
prosecution with the opportunity to amend is an a court orders that an amendment be made, or
arbitrary exercise of power. In People v. otherwise gives the prosecution an opportunity to
Sandiganbayan: amend an information, it must first establish that
the defective information can be cured by
When a motion to quash is filed amendment.
challenging the validity and sufficiency
of an Information, and the defect may Petitioner relies on Agustin to argue the
be cured by amendment, courts must proscription of an amendment of an information in
deny the motion to quash and order the order to vest jurisdiction in the court. This is
prosecution to file an amended misplaced.
Information. Generally, a defect
pertaining to the failure of an
In Agustin, the accused in the criminal case was
Information to charge facts constituting
an offense is one that may be corrected
already arraigned under a defective information
by an amendment. In such instances, that failed to establish venue. The Court of Appeals
courts are mandated not to held that the defect in the information was merely
automatically quash the Information; formal and, consequently, could be amended even
rather, it should grant the prosecution after plea, with leave of court. Thus, this Court
the opportunity to cure the defect held:
through an amendment. This rule
allows a case to proceed without undue We do not agree with the ruling of the
delay. By allowing the defect to be cured CA that the defects in the Informations
by simple amendment, unnecessary are merely formal. Indeed, the absence
appeals based on technical grounds, of any allegations in the Informations
which only result to prolonging the that the offended party was actually
proceedings, are avoided. residing in Baguio City, where the
crimes charged were allegedly
More than this practical consideration, committed, is a substantial defect.
however, is the due process Indeed, the amendments of the
underpinnings of this rule. As explained Informations to vest jurisdiction upon
by this Court in People v. Andrade, the the court cannot be allowed.
State, just like any other litigant, is
entitled to its day in court. Thus, a In turn, Agustin cited Agbayani v. Sayo. However,
court's refusal to grant the prosecution Agbayani does not involve the amendment of a
the opportunity to amend an defective information before or after arraignment.
Information, where such right is Subsequent cases have cited Agustin as basis that
expressly granted under the Rules of
amendment of an information to vest jurisdiction in
Court and affirmed time and again in a
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
the trial court is impermissible. Thus, in Leviste, this trial court may dismiss the case due to lack of
Court cited Agustin and stated that certain jurisdiction, as well as lack of authority of the
amendments are impermissible even before prosecutor to file the information. (Dio v. People,
arraignment: G.R. No. 208146, June 8, 2016)

It must be clarified though that not all Although the Information in this case charged two
defects in an information are curable by offenses which is a violation of Section 13, Rule 110
amendment prior to entry of plea. An of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which
information which is void ab initio provides that "[a] complaint or information must
cannot be amended to obviate a ground charge only one offense, except when the law
for quashal. An amendment which
prescribes a single punishment for various
operates to vest jurisdiction upon the
trial court is likewise impermissible.
offenses," nonetheless, Section 3, Rule 120 of the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure also states
It may appear that Leviste supports petitioner's that "[w]hen two or more offenses are charged in a
contention that an amendment operating to vest single complaint or information but the accused
jurisdiction in the trial court is impermissible. fails to object to it before trial, the court may
However, the statement in Leviste was obiter dictum. convict the appellant of as many as are charged and
It cites only Agustin, which did not involve the proved, and impose on him the penalty for each
amendment of an information before arraignment. offense, setting out separately the findings of fact
and law in each offense." Appellant's failure to
Aside from obiter dictum in jurisprudence, raise that more than one offense was charged in the
petitioner provides no legal basis to reverse the Information in a motion to quash before she
Court of Appeals' determination that the defective pleaded to the same is deemed a waiver. As
informations may be amended before arraignment. appellant failed to file a motion to quash the
Although the cases petitioner cited involved Information, she can be convicted of the crimes
defective informations that failed to establish the charged in the Information if proven. (People v.
jurisdiction of the court over the libel charges, none Arenas, G.R. No. 213598, July 27, 2016)
involved the amendment of an information before
arraignment. Thus, these cannot be controlling over Right to be Informed of the
the facts of this case. (Dio v. People, G.R. No. 208146, Nature and Cause of the Accusation
June 8, 2016)
At the outset, the Court notes that the Information,
For an information to be quashed based on the dated August 2, 2006, specifically charged
prosecutor's lack of authority to file it, the lack of petitioner with rape under Article 335 of the
the authority must be evident on the face of the Revised Penal Code (RPC). However, upon the
information. enactment of Republic Act No. 8353 (RA 8353),
otherwise known as the Anti-Rape Law of 1997,
The Informations here do not allege that the venue which became effective on October 22, 1997, rape
of the offense was other than Morong, Bataan. was reclassified as a crime against persons, thus,
Thus, it is not apparent on the face of the repealing Article 335 of the RPC. The new
Informations that the prosecutor did not have the provisions on rape are now found in Articles 266-A
authority to file them. to 266-D of the said Code. In the instant case, the
crime was committed on May 5, 2006. Hence, the
The proper remedy is to give the prosecution the applicable law is the RPC as amended by RA 8353
opportunity to amend the Informations. If the and that the prosecution as well as the RTC and the
proper venue appears not to be Morong, Bataan CA committed an error in specifying the provision
after the Informations have been amended, then the of law which was violated. Nonetheless, it is settled
that the failure to designate the offense by statute
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
or to mention the specific provision penalizing the That on or about January 3, 2000, in the
act, or an erroneous specification of the law City of Zamboanga, Philippines, and
violated, does not vitiate the information if the facts within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
alleged therein clearly recite the facts constituting Court, the abovenamed accused, y
means of force and intimidation, did
the crime charged. The character of the crime is not
then and there wilfully, unlawfully, and
determined by the caption or preamble of the feloniously, have carnal knowledge of
information nor by the specification of the one AAA, a girl, 13 years old, against
provision of law alleged to have been violated, but her will; furthermore, there being
by the recital of the ultimate facts and present an aggravating circumstance in
circumstances in the complaint or information. In that the victim is under eighteen (18)
the instant case, the body of the Information years old and the accused is an uncle
contains an averment of the acts alleged to have by affinity of the latter.
been committed by petitioner and describes acts
punishable under Article 266-A, in relation to Jurisprudence is replete with rulings requiring that
Article 266-B, of the RPC, as amended. (People v. Informations charging an accused with the crime of
Padit, G.R. No. 202978, February 1, 2016; see also rape qualified by relationship must succinctly state
People v. Ballacillo, G.R. No. 201106, August 3, 2016) that said accused is a relative within the third civil
degree by consanguinity or affinity xxx. Similarly
The fact that the Information did not specifically in this case, the Information merely alleged that
state therein that appellant was being charged with "the accused is an uncle by affinity of the latter,"
"rape in violation of Article 266-A, paragraph 2 of failing to clearly state that appellant herein is
the Revised Penal Code" does not automatically AAA's relative within the third civil degree of
result in the violation of his constitutional right to consanguinity or- affinity, as expressly required by
be informed of the nature and cause of the the aforecited ruling. Appellant herein cannot,
accusation against him. As the CA properly therefore, be properly convicted of rape in its
ratiocinated, while the Information failed to specify qualified form resulting in a higher award of
the particular provision of law which appellant damages. xxx. Appellant's contention that the
allegedly violated, the character of the crime is not Information filed against him did not clearly state
determined by the specification of law but by the the elements of the crime as it did not state the
recital of the ultimate fact and circumstances of the gravamen of the crime of rape, that is, sexual
case. Hence, since the body of the Information intercourse or sexual assault through insertion of
clearly alleged that appellant, through force and any instrument or object also deserves scant
intimidation, inserted his finger into AAA's vagina, consideration. (People v. Perez, G.R. No. 208071,
a minor, thereby enumerating all the essential March 9, 2016)
elements of the crime, appellant is considered
sufficiently apprised of the charge against him. While generally, an accused cannot be convicted of
Similarly, the prosecution's failure to specify the an offense that is not clearly charged in the
exact time and place of the commission of the crime information; this rule is not without exception. The
does not call for appellant's acquittal for they are right to assail the sufficiency of the information or
not elements of the crime of rape. (People v. Bolo, the admission of the evidence may be waived by
G.R. No. 217024, August 15, 2016) the accused. xxx. Herein, if there was any missing
allegation of carnal knowledge, the Court believes
It is worthy to note, moreover, that even the the appellant had been adequately informed of the
following accusatory portion of the Information nature and the cause of the accusation against him
charging appellant herein does not warrant a by the initial complaint filed against him together
conviction of rape in its qualified form: with the supporting affidavits of the witnesses and
the medical examination of AAA. (People v.
Castanas, G.R. No. 192428, April 20, 2016)
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
The Information has sufficiently informed accused- that the attackers intended to conceal their
appellant that he is being charged with two counts identities. Once this is established, the prosecution
of rape. It is true that Section 13, Rule 110 of the needed to prove how the witnesses were able to
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure requires that identify the attackers despite the concealment of
"[a] complaint or information must charge only one identity. In our May 5, 2014 Decision:
offense, except when the law prescribes a single
punishment for various offenses." However, In criminal cases, disguise is an
Section 3, Rule 120 of the same Rules, as well as aggravating circumstance because, like
settled jurisprudence, also states that "[w]hen two nighttime, it allows the accused to
or more offenses are charged in a single complaint remain anonymous and unidentifiable
or information but the accused fails to object to it as he carries out his crimes.
before trial, the court may convict the appellant of
The introduction of the prosecution of
as many as are charged and proved, and impose on testimonial evidence that tends to prove
him the penalty for each offense, setting out that the accused were masked but the
separately the findings of feet and law in each masks fell off does not prevent them
offense." Consequently, since accused-appellant from including disguise as an
failed to file a motion to quash the Information, he aggravating circumstance. What is
can be convicted with two counts of rape. (People v. important in alleging disguise as an
Brioso, G.R. No. 209344, June 27, 2016) aggravating circumstance is that there
was a concealment of identity by the
Under the rule on variance, while Mitch cannot be accused. The inclusion of disguise in the
information was, therefore, enough to
convicted of the offense of illegal sale of dangerous
sufficiently apprise the accused that in
drugs because the sale was never consummated, the commission of the offense they were
she may be convicted for the attempt to sell as it is being charged with, they tried to
necessarily included in the illegal sale of dangerous conceal their identity. (Emphasis in the
drugs.(People v. Tumulak, G.R. No. 206054, July 25, original)
xxx. Zingapan was sufficiently informed
We also find no merit in appellant's claim that she that he was being charged with the death of
cannot be convicted of illegal possession of illegal Dennis Venturina, committed through the
drugs as its possession is absorbed in the charge of circumstances provided.
illegal sale. xxx. Here, it was established that PO3 Based on this Information, Zingapan's counsel was
Rimando was able to recover from appellant's able to formulate his defense, which was that of
possession another plastic sachet of shabu which alibi. He was able to allege that he was not at Beach
was not the subject of the illegal sale; thus, she House Canteen at the time of the incident because
could be separately charged with illegal possession he was having lunch with his cousin's husband in
for the same. (People v. Arenas, G.R. No. 213598, July Kamuning. His defense had nothing to do with
27, 2016) whether he might or might not have been wearing
a mask during the December 8, 1994 incident since
The purpose of alleging all the circumstances his main defense was that he was not there at all.
attending a crime, including any circumstance that
may aggravate the accused's liability, is for the Zingapan's right to be informed of the cause or
accused to be able to adequately prepare for his or nature of the accusation against him was not
her defense xxx. violated. The inclusion of the aggravating
circumstance of disguise in the Informations did
Here, the aggravating circumstance of "masks not prevent him from presenting his defense of
and/or other forms of disguise" was alleged in the alibi. (People v. Feliciano, G.R. No. 196735, August 3,
Informations to enable the prosecution to establish 2016)
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
(Almeda v. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 204267,
This Court has repeatedly held that it is not July 25, 2016)
incumbent upon the victim to establish the date
when she was raped for purposes of convicting the "It is the duty of the prosecutor to speedily resolve
perpetrator. The date of commission is not an the complaint, as mandated by the Constitution,
essential element of the crime of rape; what is regardless of whether the (respondent) did not
material is its occurrence. Thus, there is no need to object to the delay or that the delay was with his
prove the exact date of commission; an acquiescence provided that it was not due to causes
approximation thereof will suffice. (People v. directly attributable to him." Failure or inaction
Barrido, G.R. No. 200157, August 31, 2016) may not have been deliberately intended, yet
unjustified delay nonetheless causes just as much
Speedy Disposition of Cases/Speedy Trial vexation and oppression. Indeed, delay prejudices
the accused or respondent - and the State just the
Section 16, Article III of the 1987 Constitution same. (Almeda v. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No.
guarantees that "[a]ll persons shall have the right to 204267, July 25, 2016)
a speedy disposition of their cases before all
judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies." Using the foregoing as guides and applying them
This right applies to all cases pending before all to the instant case, the Court finds that petitioner's
judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative bodies; it is right to a speedy disposition of OMB-MIN-01-0183
"not limited to the accused in criminal proceedings was violated, which must result in the dismissal
but extends to all parties in all cases, be it civil or thereof.
administrative in nature, as well as all proceedings,
either judicial or quasi-judicial. In this accord, any First of all, the preliminary investigation
party to a case may demand expeditious action to proceedings in said case took more than 11 long
[sic] all officials who are tasked with the years to resolve, or from March 23, 2001 when the
administration of justice." It "includes within its proceedings were initiated and docketed, to
contemplation the periods before, during and after September 6, 2012 when petitioner's Motion for
trial," such as preliminary investigations and fact- Reconsideration was denied.
finding investigations conducted by the Office of
the Ombudsman. (Almeda v. Office of the Secondly, the delay in the proceedings was caused
Ombudsman, G.R. No. 204267, July 25, 2016) solely by the repeated indorsement of the
Ombudsman and the OSP, which may be
"The concept of speedy disposition is relative or attributed to the Ombudsman's failure to realize
flexible. A mere mathematical reckoning of the that petitioner was not under the jurisdiction of the
time involved is not sufficient. Particular regard OSP or the Sandiganbayan. Moreover, when de la
must be taken of the facts and circumstances Cruz-Likit, the handling GIPO, went on official
peculiar to each case." For this reason, "[a] study leave, no GIPO was assigned to OMB-MIN-
balancing test of applying societal interests and the 01-0183; as a result, the case was neglected. Even if,
rights of the accused necessarily compels the court as respondents argue, petitioner's Motion for
to approach speedy trial cases on an ad hoc basis." Reconsideration was tardy and that she filed a
(Almeda v. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 204267, motion to defer the filing of the information, these
July 25, 2016) have no bearing as in fact they are irrelevant to the
issue; the fact remains that the Ombudsman's
It must also be remembered that generally, resolution of the case took too long; the fact that the
respondents in preliminary investigation ground for denying the Motion for Reconsideration
proceedings are not required to follow up on their involved a simple procedural issue highlights the
cases; it is the State's duty to expedite the same Ombudsman's failure to timely resolve the same.
"within the bounds of reasonable timeliness."
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
Angchangco, Jr., and Roque v. Office of the
Third, petitioner had no hand in the delay. As a Ombudsman, where the delay involved a period of
matter of fact, she sent a letter and filed written six years, more or less. In Licaros, the failure of the
manifestations seeking the immediate resolution of Sandiganbayan to decide the case even after the
her case. While they were filed only in 2010 and lapse of more than 10 years after it was submitted
2011, petitioner's letter and manifestations cannot for decision was declared to involve "more than
be considered late, and no waiver or acquiescence just a mere procrastination in the proceedings."
may be attached to the same, as she was not (Almeda v. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 204267,
required as a rule to follow up on her case; instead, July 25, 2016)
it is the State's duty to expedite the same.
This constitutional right is not limited to the
Fourth, the pendency of OMB-MIN-01-0183 accused in criminal proceedings but extends to all
undoubtedly prejudiced petitioner. The case hung parties in all cases, be it civil or administrative in
like a hangman's cord above her all these years, nature, as well as in all proceedings, either judicial
causing distress, anxiety, and embarrassment. As or quasi-judicial. In this accord, any party to a case
was held in the Corpuz case, the passage of time may demand expeditious action of all officials who
affects the parties' and their witnesses' ability to are tasked with the administration of justice.
prepare a cogent case or defense; secure witnesses;
and preserve honor and reputation, financial In Tatad v. Sandiganbayan, we held that the long
resources, memory, and evidence. delay of close to three (3) years in the termination
of the preliminary investigation conducted by the
Finally, the Ombudsman's explanation for the Tanodbayan constituted a violation not only of the
delay is not at all acceptable. Instead, it can be seen constitutional right of the accused under the broad
that it failed to apply a basic rule that in the umbrella of the due process clause, but also of the
investigation and prosecution of public officers and constitutional guarantee to "speedy disposition" of
employees accused of graft, specific rules on cases as embodied in Section 16 of the Bill of Rights
jurisdiction based on rank apply. What ensued was xxx. Plainly, the delay of at least seven (7) years
an administrative "ping-pong," as petitioner puts it. before the informations were filed skews the
fairness which the right to speedy disposition of
In Coscolluela, the fact that it took the Ombudsman cases seeks to maintain. Undoubtedly, the delay in
eight years to resolve a case under preliminary the resolution of this case prejudiced Inocentes
investigation was considered violative of the right since the defense witnesses he would present
to speedy disposition of cases. In Cervantes, it took would be unable to recall accurately the events of
the OSP six years from the filing of the initiatory the distant past.
complaint before deciding to file an information;
this was struck down as well. In Tatad v. Considering the clear violation of Inocentes' right
Sandiganbayan, a three-year delay in the to the speedy disposition of his case, we find that
termination of the preliminary investigation by the the Ombudsman gravely abused its discretion in
Tanodbayan was considered violative of the right. In not acting on the case within a reasonable time
Lopez, Jr. v. Office of the Ombudsman, the preliminary after it had acquired jurisdiction over it. (Inocentes
investigation was resolved close to four years from v. People, G.R. Nos. 205963-64, July 7, 2016)
the time all the counter- and reply-affidavits were
submitted to the Ombudsman, and this was The constitutional right is not limited to the
similarly struck down. In People v. Sandiganbayan, accused in criminal proceedings but extends to all
the fact-finding investigation and preliminary parties in all cases, be it civil or administrative in
investigation by the Ombudsman lasted nearly five nature, as well as all proceedings, either judicial or
years and five months, which the Court considered quasi-judicial. In this accord, any party to a case
an inordinate delay. The same is true in may demand expeditious action from all officials
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
who are tasked with the administration of justice. undeniably long-drawnout. xxx. There is no
This right, however, like the right to a speedy trial, question that petitioner asserted his right to a
is deemed violated only when the proceeding is speedy disposition of cases at the earliest possible
attended by vexatious, capricious, and oppressive time. In his Counter-Affidavit filed before the
delays. Ombudsman during the reinvestigation of the case
in 2014, petitioner had already argued that
The concept of speedy disposition is relative or dismissal of the case is proper because the long
flexible. A mere mathematical reckoning of the delayed proceedings violated his constitutional
time involved is not sufficient. Particular regard right to a speedy disposition of cases. This shows
must be taken of the facts and circumstances that petitioner wasted no time to assert his right to
peculiar to each case. Hence, the doctrinal rule is have the cases against him dismissed. (Torres v.
that in the determination of whether that right has Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 221562-69, October 5,
been violated, the factors that may be considered 2016)
and balanced are as follows: (1) the length of delay;
(2) the reasons for the delay; (3) the assertion or In the present case, petitioner has undoubtedly
failure to assert such right by the accused; and (4) been prejudiced by virtue of the delay in the
the prejudice caused by the delay. xxx. resolution of the cases filed against him. Even
though he was not initially included as a
From the foregoing, it is clear that from the time the respondent in the investigation conducted from
first Resolution was issued by the Office of the 1996 to 2006 pertaining to the "overpricing of
Ombudsman on April 12, 1996, it took more than medicines'' procured through emergency purchase,
thirteen (13) years to review and file the he has already been deprived of the ability to
Informations on October 6, 2009. Otherwise stated, adequately prepare his case considering that he
from the time the complaint was filed on December may no longer have any access to records or
28, 1994, it took petitioner almost fifteen (15) years contact with any witness in support of his defense.
to file the Informations. xxx. All told, the criminal This is even aggravated by the fact that petitioner
complaints were correctly dismissed on the ground had been retired for fifteen (15) years. Even if he
of inordinate delay of fifteen (15) years amounting was never imprisoned and subjected to trial, it
to a transgression of the right to a speedy cannot be denied that he has lived under a cloud of
disposition of cases and therefore, the anxiety by virtue of the delay in the resolution of
Sandiganbayan did not gravely abuse its discretion. his case. (Torres v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 221562-
(People v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 199151-56, July 69, October 5, 2016)
25, 2016)
Right to Confront Witnesses
We find it necessary to emphasize that the speedy
disposition of cases covers not only the period Mere opportunity and not actual cross-examination is
within which the preliminary investigation was the essence of the right to cross-examine. The case of
conducted, but also all stages to which the accused Savory Luncheonette v. Lakas ng Manggagawang
is subjected, even including fact-finding Pilipino, et al. thoroughly explained the meaning
investigations conducted prior to the preliminary and substance of right to cross-examine as an
investigation proper. xxx. Considering that the integral component of due process with a colatilla
subject transactions were allegedly committed in that the same right may be expressly or impliedly
1991 and 1992, and the fact-finding and waived xxx. Such is the scenario in the present case
preliminary investigations were ordered to be where the reason why Rodolfo and PO2 Sulit were
conducted by Tanodbayan Marcelo in 2004, the not subjected to cross-examination was not because
length of time which lapsed before the the petitioners were not given opportunity to do so.
Ombudsman was able to resolve the case and Noticeably, the petitioners’ counsel de oficio omitted
actually file the Informations against petitioner was to mention that in the June 18, 2003 hearing,
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
Ronald, one of the accused, did not show up initiates a criminal action[,]" and carries with it all
despite prior notice. Thus, the bail bond posted for the accompanying rights of an accused.
his provisional liberty was ordered confiscated in
favor of the government. Ironically, Ronald comes Only when a person stands trial may he or she
to this Court asserting the very right he seemingly demand "the right to confront and cross-examine
waived and abandoned for not attending the his [or her] accusers[.]" This right cannot apply to
scheduled hearing without justifiable cause. petitioner, who has yet to be arraigned and face
Moreover, neither did the petitioners interpose any trial as he left the country at the time he was
objection to the presentation of testimony of the initially charged with plunder.
prosecution witnesses during the June 18, 2003
hearing nor did their counsel de oficio subsequently Petitioner's failure to cross-examine the witnesses
seek a reconsideration of the June 18, 2003 Order. during the trial in People v. Estrada was, thus, his
(Ibanez v. People, G.R. No.190798, January 27, 2016) own fault.

Petitioner argues that he was not able to cross- When he slipped out of the Philippines following
examine the witnesses; thus, the evidence Estrada's impeachment in 2000, petitioner was
presented during the impeachment and the able to avert the implementation of the initial
plunder trials of Estrada - consisting of warrant of arrest against him. His decisions have
testimonies of Clarissa Ocampo, Atty. Manuel consequences.
Curato and Willy Ng Ocier – are allegedly
hearsay and, therefore inadmissible. His disappearance during such a crucial period in
our history necessarily meant that he could not
Petitioner’s assertions are erroneous. cross-examine the witnesses at the time of
Estrada's plunder trial. Petitioner cannot
First, there is nothing capricious or whimsical conveniently impute this fault on the
about petitioner's lack of opportunity to cross- Ombudsman now, more than a decade later. It is
examine the witnesses. injustice, not to mention a grave error, to
attribute to the Ombudsman the dire
A person's rights in a preliminary investigation consequences of petitioner's own actions.
are subject to the limitations of procedural law. (Dichaves v. Office of the Ombudsman, GR. NOS.
These rights are statutory, not constitutional. 206310-11 (OMB-0-01-0211 and OMB-0-01 0291;
Sandiganbayan Special Division-Criminal Case
The purpose of a preliminary investigation is No. 26558), December 7, 2016)
merely to present such evidence "as may
engender a well-grounded belief that an offense Lastly, in the accused-appellant's brief, he
has been committed and that [the respondent in a contended that non-presentation of the civilian
criminal complaint] is probably guilty thereof." It asset who acted as poseur buyer violates his right
does not 'call for a “full and exhaustive display of to be confronted with the person who implicated
the parties’ evidence[.]” him. As aptly held by the Court of Appeals, the
presentation of an asset as witness is insignificant
Thus, petitioner has no right to cross-examine the in the prosecution of the offense. Jurisprudence
witnesses during a preliminary investigation. At dictates that presentation of the informant assets
this early stage, the Ombudsman has yet to file an as witness in court is not an indispensable
information that would trigger into operation the element to a successful prosecution since their
rights of the accused (found under Section 14(2) testimonies are merely corroborative and
of Article III of the Constitution). "It is the filing cumulative. Moreover, the ratio behind such non-
of a complaint or information in court that presentation is the need to conceal their identity
so as to protect them for their valuable service to
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
the law enforcement and not to mention a "separate offense of illegal possession of firearms
possible liquidation in the hands of drugs and ammunition if there is another crime
syndicates and their allies. (People v. Bayot, G.R. committed[.]" In that case, the petitioner was
No. 210656, December 7, 2016) charged with both illegal possession of firearms
and violation of the Gun Ban under Commission
Trial in Absentia on Elections Resolution No. 2826. This court
acquitted petitioner in the case for illegal
The holding of trial in absentia is authorized under possession of firearms since he simultaneously
Section 14(2), Article III of the 1987 Constitution violated the Gun Ban. This court also held that the
which provides that after arraignment, trial may unlicensed firearm need not be actually used in the
proceed notwithstanding the absence of the course of committing the other crime for the
accused provided that he has been duly notified application of Section 1 of Republic Act No. 8294.
and his failure to appear is unjustifiable. It is Similarly, Madrigal v. People (584 Phil. 241 [(2008])
established that notices have been served to the applied the ruling in Agote and held that Section 1
counsel of the petitioner and his failure to inform of Republic Act No. 8294 is express in its terms that
his counsel of his whereabouts is the reason for his a person may not be convicted for illegal
failure to appear on the scheduled date. Thus, the possession of firearms if another crime was
arguments of the petitioner against the validity of committed. (De la Cruz v. People, G.R. No. 209387,
the proceedings and promulgation of judgment in January 11, 2016)
absentia for being in violation of the constitutional
right to due process are doomed to fail. (Senit v. An illegal recruiter can be liable for the crimes of
People, G.R. No. 192914, January 11, 2016) illegal recruitment committed in large scale and
estafa without risk of being put in double jeopardy,
Death Penalty provided that the accused has been so charged
under separate informations. (People v. Bayker, G.R.
But with the enactment of RA 9346 or An Act No. 170192, February 10, 2016)
Prohibiting the Imposition of Death Penalty in the
Philippines, the imposition of death penalty is now The conviction of the accused-appellant for illegal
prohibited. It provides that in lieu of the death recruitment committed in large scale did not
penalty, the penalty of reclusion perpetua shall be preclude her personal liability for estafa under
imposed when the law violated makes use of the Article 3l5(2)(a) of the Revised Penal Code on the
nomenclature of the penalties of the RPC. ground of subjecting her to double jeopardy. The
elements of estafa as charged are, namely: (1) the
As a result, the death penalty can no longer be accused defrauded another by abuse of confidence
imposed. Instead, they have to impose reclusion or by means of deceit; and (2) the offended party,
perpetua. Despite this, the principal consideration or a third party suffered damage or prejudice
for the award of damages, following the ruling in capable of pecuniary estimation. In contrast, the
People v. Salome and People v. Quiachon, is "the crime of illegal recruitment committed in large
penalty provided by law or imposable for the scale, as indicated earlier, requires different
offense because of its heinousness, not the public elements. Double jeopardy could not result from
penalty actually imposed on the offender." (People prosecuting and convicting the accused-appellant
v. Jugueta, G.R. No. 202124, April 5, 2016) for both crimes considering that they were entirely
distinct from each other not only from their being
Double Jeopardy punished under different statutes but also from
their elements being different. The active
Agote v. Judge Lorenzo (502 Phil. 318 [2005]) already representation by the accused-appellant of having
settled the question of whether there can be a the capacity to deploy Miparanum abroad despite
not having the authority or license to do so from
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
the POEA constituted deceit as the first element of in this case, the Sandiganbayan, acted without
estafa. Her representation induced the victim to part jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion amounting
with his money, resulting in damage that is the to excess or lack of jurisdiction or a denial of due
second element of the estafa. Considering that the process. xxx. Thus, the instant petition for certiorari
damage resulted from the deceit, the CA's is the correct remedy in seeking to annul the
affirmance of her guilt for estafa as charged was in Resolutions of public respondent Sandiganbayan
order. (People v. Bayker, G.R. No. 170192, February for allegedly having been issued without or in
10, 2016) excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of
At the outset, it must be stressed that in criminal jurisdiction which granted the motions to quash or
cases, an appeal throws the entire case wide open dismiss filed by private respondents which were
for review and the reviewing tribunal can correct premised on the ground of inordinate delay in the
errors, though unassigned in the appealed conduct of the preliminary investigation
judgment, or even reverse the trial court's decision amounting to a violation of their rights to speedy
based on grounds other than those that the parties disposition of their cases. . (People v. Sandiganbayan,
raised as errors. The appeal confers the appellate G.R. No. 199151-56, July 25, 2016)
court full jurisdiction over the case and renders
such court competent to examine records, revise We have consistently looked with disfavor upon
the judgment appealed from, increase the penalty, affidavits of desistance filed in disbarment
and cite the proper provision of the penal law. proceedings. Administrative proceedings are
(People v. Comboy, G.R. No. 218399, March 2, 2016) imbued with public interest. Hence, these
proceedings should not be made to depend on the
After all, such reinvestigation would not subject whims and caprices of complainants who are, in a
Estores and San Miguel to double jeopardy because real sense, only witnesses. In Garrido v. Garrido, we
the same only attaches if the following requisites held:
are present: (1) a first jeopardy has attached before
the second; (2) the first jeopardy has been validly Laws dealing with double jeopardy or
terminated; and (3) a second jeopardy is for the with procedure—such as the verification
same offense as in the first. In turn, a first jeopardy of pleadings and prejudicial questions,
or in this case, prescription of offenses
attaches only (a) after a valid indictment; (b) before
or the filing of affidavits of desistance by the
a competent court; (c) after arraignment; (d) when a
complainant—do not apply in the
valid plea has been entered; and (e) when the determination of a lawyer's qualifications
accused has been acquitted or convicted, or the case and fitness for membership in the Bar.
dismissed or otherwise terminated without his
express consent. In this case, the case against We emphasize that a case for disbarment or
Estores and San Miguel was dismissed before they suspension is not meant to grant relief to a
were arraigned. Thus, there can be no double complainant as in a civil case, but is intended to
jeopardy to speak of. Let true justice be served by cleanse the ranks of the legal profession of its
reinvestigating the real participation, if any, of undesirable members in order to protect the public
Estores and San Miguel in the killing of Mary Grace and the courts.
and Claudine Divina. (People v. Jugueta, G.R. No.
202124, April 5, 2016) Although there are times when we dismissed the
case after the complainant withdrew his complaint,
Instead, a judgment of acquittal may be assailed by the dismissal was not due to our acquiescence to
the People in a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 the complainant's wish but because of the absence
of the Rules of Court without placing the accused of any competent and credible evidence by reason
in double jeopardy. However, in such case, the
People is burdened to establish that the court a quo,
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
of the desistance. (Yumul-Espina v. Tabaquero, A.C. To assume otherwise is to accept the absurd, if not
No. 11238, September 21, 2016) the virtually impossible, as the norm. xxx. (Poe-
Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections, G.R. Nos.
221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016)
Article IV
CITIZENSHIP As a matter of law, foundlings are as a class,
natural-born citizens. While the 1935 Constitution's
The fact is that petitioner's blood relationship with enumeration is silent as to foundlings, there is no
a Filipino citizen is DEMONSTRABLE. restrictive language which would definitely
exclude foundlings either. (Poe-Llamanzares v.
At the outset, it must be noted that presumptions Commission on Elections, G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-
regarding paternity is neither unknown nor 700, March 8, 2016)
unaccepted in Philippine Law. The Family Code of
the Philippines has a whole chapter on Paternity As pointed out by petitioner as well as the Solicitor
and Filiation. That said, there is more than General, the deliberations of the 1934
sufficient evidence that petitioner has Filipino Constitutional Convention show that the framers
parents and is therefore a natural-born Filipino. intended foundlings to be covered by the
Parenthetically, the burden of proof was on private enumeration. xxx.
respondents to show that petitioner is not a Filipino
citizen. The private respondents should have The Solicitor General makes the further point that
shown that both of petitioner's parents were aliens. the framers "worked to create a just and humane
Her admission that she is a foundling did not shift society," that "they were reasonable patriots and
the burden to her because such status did not that it would be unfair to impute upon them a
exclude the possibility that her parents were discriminatory intent against foundlings." He
Filipinos, especially as in this case where there is a exhorts that, given the grave implications of the
high probability, if not certainty, that her parents argument that foundlings are not natural-born
are Filipinos. Filipinos, the Court must search the records of the
1935, 1973 and 1987 Constitutions "for an express
The factual issue is not who the parents of intention to deny foundlings the status of Filipinos.
petitioner are, as their identities are unknown, but The burden is on those who wish to use the
whether such parents are Filipinos. xxx. constitution to discriminate against foundlings to
show that the Constitution really intended to take
There is a disputable presumption that things have this path to the dark side and inflict this across the
happened according to the ordinary course of board marginalization."
nature and the ordinary habits of life. All of the
foregoing evidence, that a person with typical We find no such intent or language permitting
Filipino features is abandoned in Catholic Church discrimination against foundlings. On the contrary,
in a municipality where the population of the all three Constitutions guarantee the basic right to
Philippines is overwhelmingly Filipinos such that equal protection of the laws. All exhort the State to
there would be more than a 99% chance that a child render social justice. Of special consideration are
born in the province would be a Filipino, would several provisions in the present charter: Article II,
indicate more than ample probability if not Section 11 which provides that the "State values the
statistical certainty, that petitioner's parents are dignity of every human person and guarantees full
Filipinos. That probability and the evidence on respect for human rights," Article XIII, Section 1
which it is based are admissible under Rule 128, which mandates Congress to "give highest priority
Section 4 of the Revised Rules on Evidence. to the enactment of measures that protect and
enhance the right of all the people to human
dignity, reduce social, economic, and political
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
inequalities xxx" and Article XV, Section 3 which any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine
requires the State to defend the "right of children to citizenship." In the first place, "having to perform
assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and an act" means that the act must be personally done
special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, by the citizen. In this instance, the determination of
cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions foundling status is done not by the child but by the
prejudicial to their development." Certainly, these authorities. Secondly, the object of the process is
provisions contradict an intent to discriminate the determination of the whereabouts of the
against foundlings on account of their unfortunate parents, not the citizenship of the child. Lastly, the
status. (Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections, process is certainly not analogous to naturalization
G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016) proceedings to acquire Philippine citizenship, or
Domestic laws on adoption also support the the election of such citizenship by one born of an
principle that foundlings are Filipinos. These laws alien father and a Filipino mother under the 1935
do not provide that adoption confers citizenship Constitution, which is an act to perfect it.
upon the adoptee. Rather, the adoptee must be a
Filipino in the first place to be adopted. The most In this instance, such issue is moot because there is
basic of such laws is Article 15 of the Civil Code no dispute that petitioner is a foundling, as
which provides that "[l]aws relating to family evidenced by a Foundling Certificate issued in her
rights, duties, status, conditions, legal capacity of favor. The Decree of Adoption issued on 13 May
persons are binding on citizens of the Philippines 1974, which approved petitioner's adoption by
even though living abroad." Adoption deals with Jesusa Sonora Poe and Ronald Allan Kelley Poe,
status, and a Philippine adoption court will have expressly refers to Emiliano and his wife, Rosario
jurisdiction only if the adoptee is a Filipino. xxx. Militar, as her "foundling parents," hence
effectively affirming petitioner's status as a
Recent legislation is more direct. R.A. No. 8043 foundling. (Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on
entitled "An Act Establishing the Rules to Govern Elections, G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8,
the Inter-Country Adoption of Filipino Children 2016)
and For Other Purposes" (otherwise known as the
"Inter-Country Adoption Act of 1995"), R.A. No. Foundlings are likewise citizens under
8552, entitled "An Act Establishing the Rules and international law. Under the 1987 Constitution, an
Policies on the Adoption of Filipino Children and international law can become part of the sphere of
For Other Purposes" (otherwise known as the domestic law either by transformation or
Domestic Adoption Act of 1998) and this Court's incorporation. The transformation method requires
A.M. No. 02-6-02-SC or the "Rule on Adoption," all that an international law be transformed into a
expressly refer to "Filipino children" and include domestic law through a constitutional mechanism
foundlings as among Filipino children who may be such as local legislation. On the other hand,
adopted. (Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on generally accepted principles of international law,
Elections, G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, by virtue of the incorporation clause of the
2016) Constitution, form part of the laws of the land even
if they do not derive from treaty obligations.
It has been argued that the process to determine Generally accepted principles of international law
that the child is a foundling leading to the issuance include international custom as evidence of a
of a foundling certificate under these laws and the general practice accepted as law, and general
issuance of said certificate are acts to acquire or principles of law recognized by civilized nations.
perfect Philippine citizenship which make the International customary rules are accepted as
foundling a naturalized Filipino at best. This is binding as a result from the combination of two
erroneous. Under Article IV, Section 2 "Natural- elements: the established, widespread, and
born citizens are those who are citizens of the consistent practice on the part of States; and a
Philippines from birth without having to perform psychological element known as the opinion juris
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
sive necessitates (opinion as to law or necessity). The COMELEC also ruled that petitioner's
Implicit in the latter element is a belief that the repatriation in July 2006 under the provisions of
practice in question is rendered obligatory by the R.A. No. 9225 did not result in the reacquisition of
existence of a rule of law requiring it. "General natural-born citizenship. The COMELEC reasoned
principles of law recognized by civilized nations" that since the applicant must perform an act, what
are principles "established by a process of is reacquired is not "natural-born" citizenship but
reasoning" or judicial logic, based on principles only plain Philippine citizenship."
which are "basic to legal systems generally," such
as "general principles of equity, i.e., the general The COMELEC's rule arrogantly disregards
principles of fairness and justice," and the "general consistent jurisprudence on the matter of
principle against discrimination" which is repatriation statutes in general and of R.A. No.
embodied in the "Universal Declaration of Human 9225 in particular. In the seminal case of Bengson III
Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, v. HRET (409 Phil. 633), repatriation was explained
Social and Cultural Rights, the International as follows:
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Racial Discrimination, the Convention Against Moreover, repatriation results in the
Discrimination in Education, the Convention (No. recovery of the original nationality. This
111) Concerning Discrimination in Respect of means that a naturalized Filipino who
Employment and Occupation." These are the same lost his citizenship will be restored to
his prior status as a naturalized Filipino
core principles which underlie the Philippine
citizen. On the other hand, if he was
Constitution itself, as embodied in the due process originally a natural-born citizen before
and equal protection clauses of the Bill of Rights. he lost his Philippine citizenship, he will
(Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections, G.R. be restored to his former status as a
Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016) natural-born Filipino.

Adopting these legal principles from the 1930 R.A. No. 9225 is a repatriation statute and has been
Hague Convention and the 1961 Convention on described as such in several cases. They include
Statelessness is rational and reasonable and Sobejana-Condon v. COMELEC (692 Phil. 407), where
consistent with the jus sanguinis regime in our we described it as an "abbreviated repatriation
Constitution. The presumption of natural-born process that restores one's Filipino citizenship xxx."
citizenship of foundlings stems from the Also included is Parreno v. Commission on Audit (551
presumption that their parents are nationals of the Phil. 368), which cited Tabasa v. Court of Appeals
Philippines. As the empirical data provided by the (531 Phil. 407), where we said that "[t]he
PSA show, that presumption is at more than 99% repatriation of the former Filipino will allow him to
and is a virtual certainty. recover his natural-born citizenship. Parreno v.
Commission on Audit is categorical that "if
In sum, all of the international law conventions and petitioner reacquires his Filipino citizenship (under
instruments on the matter of nationality of R.A. No. 9225), he will ... recover his natural-born
foundlings were designed to address the plight of a citizenship."
defenseless class which suffers from a misfortune
not of their own making. We cannot be restrictive The COMELEC construed the phrase "from birth"
as to their application if we are a country which in the definition of natural citizens as implying
calls itself civilized and a member of the "that natural-born citizenship must begin at birth
community of nations. (Poe-Llamanzares v. and remain uninterrupted and continuous from
Commission on Elections, G.R. Nos. 221697 & 221698- birth." R.A. No. 9225 was obviously passed in line
700, March 8, 2016) with Congress' sole prerogative to determine how
citizenship may be lost or reacquired. Congress
saw it fit to decree that natural-born citizenship
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
may be reacquired even if it had been once lost. It is run as candidates in Philippine
not for the COMELEC to disagree with the elections; while the renunciation of
Congress' determination. foreign citizenship is an additional
requisite only for those who have
retained or reacquired Philippine
More importantly, COMELEC's position that
citizenship under Republic Act No. 9225
natural-born status must be continuous was and who seek elective public posts,
already rejected in Bengson Ill v. HRET where the considering their special circumstance of
phrase "from birth" was clarified to mean at the having more than one citizenship.
time of birth: "A person who at the time of his birth,
is a citizen of a particular country, is a natural-born With petitioner’s failure to execute a personal and
citizen thereof." Neither is "repatriation" an act to sworn renunciation of her American citizenship,
"acquire or perfect" one's citizenship. In Bengson Ill petitioner was a dual citizen at the time she filed
v. HRET, this Court pointed out that there are only her Certificate of Candidacy on October 3, 2012.
two types of citizens under the 1987 Constitution: Under Section 40 of the Local Government Code,
natural-born citizen and naturalized, and that there she was disqualified to run for Councilor in the
is no third category for repatriated citizens xxx. Fourth District of Manila during the 2013 National
(Poe-Llamanzares v. Commission on Elections, G.R. and Local Elections. (Chua v. Commission on
Nos. 221697 & 221698-700, March 8, 2016) Elections, G.R. No. 216607, April 5, 2016)

Dual citizens are disqualified from running for any As the agency tasked to "provide immigration and
elective local position. They cannot successfully run naturalization regulatory services" and "implement
and assume office because their ineligibility is the laws governing citizenship and the admission
inherent in them, existing prior to the filing of their and stay of aliens," the DOJ has the power to
certificates of candidacy. Their certificates of authorize the recognition of citizens of the
candidacy are void ab initio, and votes cast for them Philippines. Any individual born of a Filipino
will be disregarded. Consequently, whoever parent is a citizen of the Philippines and is entitled
garners the next highest number of votes among to be recognized as such. Recognition is accorded
the eligible candidates is the person legally entitled by the BI and the DOJ to qualified individuals,
to the position. (Chua v. Commission on Elections, provided the proper procedure is complied with
G.R. No. 216607, April 5, 2016) and the necessary documents are submitted. In this
case, respondent was accorded recognition as a
Petitioner cannot claim that she has renounced her citizen on 24 February 2000. On 24 October 2000, he
American citizenship by taking the Oath of was issued Identification Certificate No. 018488,
Allegiance. The oath of allegiance and the sworn which confirmed his status and affirmed his
and personal renunciation of foreign citizenship are entitlement to all the rights and privileges of
separate requirements, the latter being an additional citizenship.
requirement for qualification to run for public
office. In Jacot v. Dal: Petitioners, however, are correct in saying that the
recognition granted to respondent has not attained
[T]he oath of allegiance contained in the finality. This Court has consistently ruled that the
Certificate of Candidacy, which is issue of citizenship may be threshed out as the
substantially similar to the one
occasion demands. Res judicata only applies once a
contained in Section 3 of Republic Act
finding of citizenship is affirmed by the Court in a
No. 9225, does not constitute the
personal and sworn renunciation sought proceeding in which: (a) the person whose
under Section 5(2) of Republic Act No. citizenship is questioned is a party; (b) the person's
9225. It bears to emphasize that the said citizenship is raised as a material issue; and (c) the
oath of allegiance is a general Solicitor General or an authorized representative is
requirement for all those who wish to able to take an active part. Since respondent's
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
citizenship has not been the subject of such a parentage. These provisions must then be
proceeding, there is no obstacle to revisiting the appreciated in relation to the factual milieu of this
matter in this case. (Republic v. Harp, G.R. No. case. The pieces of evidence before the Senate
188829, June 13, 2016) Electoral Tribunal, admitted facts, and
uncontroverted circumstances adequately justify
It is settled that summary deportation proceedings the conclusion of private respondent's Filipino
cannot be instituted by the BI against citizens of the parentage.
Philippines. In Board of Commissioners v. Dela Rosa,
the Court reiterated the doctrine that citizens may On another level, the assumption should be that
resort to courts for protection if their right to live in foundlings are natural-born unless there is
peace, without molestation from any official or substantial evidence to the contrary. This is
authority, is disturbed in a deportation proceeding. necessarily engendered by a complete
xxx. Since respondent has already been declared consideration of the whole Constitution, not just its
and recognized as a Philippine citizen by the BI provisions on citizenship. This includes its
and the DOJ, he must be protected from summary mandate of defending the well-being of children,
deportation proceedings. We affirm the ruling of guaranteeing equal protection of the law, equal
the CA on this matter: access to opportunities for public service, and
respecting human rights, as well as its reasons for
True, "[t]he power to deport an alien is requiring natural-born status for select public
an act of the State. It is an act by or offices. Moreover, this is a reading validated by
under the authority of the sovereign contemporaneous construction that considers
power. It is a police measure against related legislative enactments, executive and
undesirable aliens whose presence in administrative actions, and international
the country is found to be injurious to
instruments. (David v. Senate Electoral Tribunal, G.R.
the public good and domestic
tranquility of the people." However, in
No. 221538, September 20, 2016)
this controversy, petitioner is not an
alien. He is a Filipino citizen duly Private respondent was a Filipino citizen at birth.
recognized by the BI, the DOJ and the This status' commencement from birth means that
DFA xxx. (Citations omitted) (Republic v. private respondent never had to do anything to
Harp, G.R. No. 188829, June 13, 2016) consummate this status. By definition, she is
natural-born. Though subsequently naturalized,
Though her parents are unknown, private she reacquired her natural-born status upon
respondent is a Philippine citizen without the need satisfying the requirement of Republic Act No.
for an express statement in the Constitution 9225. Accordingly, she is qualified to hold office as
making her so. Her status as such is but the logical Senator of the Republic. (David v. Senate Electoral
consequence of a reasonable reading of the Tribunal, G.R. No. 221538, September 20, 2016)
Constitution within its plain text. The Constitution
provides its own cues; there is not even a need to Citizenship is a legal device denoting political
delve into the deliberations of its framers and the affiliation. It is the "right to have rights." It is one's
implications of international legal instruments. This personal and . . . permanent membership in a
reading proceeds from several levels. political community. . . The core of citizenship is
the capacity to enjoy political rights, that is, the
On an initial level, a plain textual reading readily right to participate in government principally
identifies the specific provision, which principally through the right to vote, the right to hold public
governs: the Constitution's actual definition, in office[,] and the right to petition the government
Article IV, Section 2, of "natural-born citizens." This for redress of grievance.
definition must be harmonized with Section 1's
enumeration, which includes a reference to Citizenship also entails obligations to the political
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
community of which one is part. Citizenship, left the determination of the native inhabitants'
therefore, is intimately tied with the notion that status to the Congress of the United States:
loyalty is owed to the state, considering the benefits
and protection provided by it. This is particularly Spanish subjects, natives of the
so if these benefits and protection have been Peninsula, residing in the territory over
enjoyed from the moment of the citizen's birth. which Spain by the present treaty
relinquishes or cedes her sovereignty
may remain in such territory or may
Tecson v. Commission on Elections reckoned with the
remove therefrom. . . . In case they
historical development of our concept of remain in the territory they may
citizenship, beginning under Spanish colonial rule. preserve their allegiance to the Crown
Under the Spanish, the native inhabitants of the of Spain by making . . . a declaration of
Philippine Islands were identified not as citizens their decision to preserve such
but as "Spanish subjects." Church records show that allegiance; in default of which
native inhabitants were referred to as "indios." The declaration they shall be held to have
alternative identification of native inhabitants as renounced it and to have adopted the
subjects or as indios demonstrated the colonial nationality of the territory in which they
master's regard for native inhabitants as inferior. may reside.
Natives were, thus, reduced to subservience in
Thus –
their own land.
The civil rights and political status of
Under the Spanish Constitution of 1876, persons the native inhabitants of the territories
born within Spanish territory, not just peninsular hereby ceded to the United States shall
Spain, were considered Spaniards, classification, be determined by Congress.
however, did not extend to the Philippine Islands,
as Article 89 expressly mandated that the Pending legislation by the United States
archipelago was to be governed by special laws. It Congress, the native inhabitants who had ceased
was only on December 18, 1889, upon the to be Spanish subjects were "issued passports
effectivity in this jurisdiction of the Civil Code of describing them to be citizens of the Philippines
entitled to the protection of the United States."
Spain, that there existed a categorical enumeration
of who were Spanish citizens, thus:
The term "citizens of the Philippine Islands" first
(a) Persons born in Spanish territory, appeared in legislation in the Philippine Organic
Act, otherwise known as the Philippine Bill of 1902:
(b) Children of a Spanish father or mother, even if
they were born outside of Spain, Section 4. That all inhabitants of the
Philippine Islands continuing to reside
(c) Foreigners who have obtained naturalization therein, who were Spanish subjects on the
papers, eleventh day of April, eighteen hundred
and ninety-nine, and then resided in said
(d) Those who, without such papers, may have
Islands, and their children born
become domiciled inhabitants of any town of the
subsequent thereto, shall be deemed and
held to be citizens of the Philippine
1898 marked the end of Spanish colonial rule. The Islands and as such entitled to the
Philippine Islands were ceded by Spain to the protection of the United States, except
United States of America under the Treaty of Paris, such as shall have elected to preserve their
allegiance to the Crown of Spain in
which was entered into on December 10, 1898. The
accordance with the provisions of the
Treaty of Paris did not automatically convert the treaty of peace between the United States
native inhabitants to American citizens. Instead, it and Spain signed at Paris December tenth,

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
eighteen hundred and ninety-eight. Philippine Islands, except such as shall
(Emphasis supplied) have elected to preserve their allegiance
to the Crown of Spain in accordance
The Philippine Bill of 1902 explicitly covered the with the provisions of the treaty of
status of children born in the Philippine Islands to peace between the United States and
its inhabitants who were Spanish subjects as of Spain, signed at Paris December tenth,
eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, and
April 11, 1899. However, it did not account for the
except such others as have since become
status of children born in the Islands to parents citizens of some other country:
who were not Spanish subjects. A view was Provided, That the Philippine
expressed that the common law concept of jus soli Legislature, herein provided for, is
(or citizenship by place of birth), which was hereby authorized to provide by law for
operative in the United States, applied to the the acquisition of Philippine citizenship
Philippine Islands. by those natives of the Philippine
On March 23, 1912, the United States Congress Islands who do not come within the
amended Section 4 of the Philippine Bill of 1902. It foregoing provisions, the natives of the
was made to include a proviso for the enactment by insular possessions of the United States,
and such other persons residing in the
the legislature of a law on acquiring citizenship.
Philippine Islands who are citizens of
This proviso read: the United States, or who could become
citizens of the United States under the
Provided, That the Philippine laws of the United States if residing
Legislature, herein provided for, is therein.
hereby authorized to provide by law for
the acquisition of Philippine citizenship
The Jones Law of 1916 provided that a native-born
by those natives of the Philippine
Islands who do not come within the
inhabitant of the Philippine Islands was deemed to
foregoing provisions, the natives of the be a citizen of the Philippines as of April 11, 1899 if
insular possessions of the United States, he or she was "(1) a subject of Spain on April 11,
and such other persons residing in the 1899, (2) residing in the Philippines on said date,
Philippine Islands who are citizens of and (3) since that date, not a citizen of some other
the United States, or who could become country."
citizens of the United States under the
laws of the United States if residing There was previously the view that jus soli may
therein. apply as a mode of acquiring citizenship. It was the
1935 Constitution that made sole reference to
In 1916, the Philippine Autonomy Act, otherwise parentage vis-a-vis the determination of
known as the Jones Law of 1916, replaced the citizenship. Article III, Section 1 of the 1935
Philippine Bill of 1902. It restated the citizenship Constitution provided:
provision of the Philippine Bill of 1902, as
amended: SECTION 1. The following are citizens of the
Section 2.—Philippine Citizenship and
Naturalization (1) Those who are citizens of the Philippine Islands at
the time of the adoption of this Constitution.
That all inhabitants of the Philippine
Islands who were Spanish subjects on (2) Those born in the Philippines Islands of foreign
the eleventh day of April, eighteen parents who, before the adoption of this
hundred and ninety-nine, and then Constitution, had been elected to public office in
resided in said Islands, and their the Philippine Islands.
children born subsequent thereto, shall
be deemed and held to be citizens of the (3) Those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines.

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
under the law, to have renounced her
(4) Those whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines
and upon reaching the age of majority, elect
Philippine citizenship.
The 1973 Constitution was the first instrument to
(5) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law. actually define the term "natural-born citizen."
Article III, Section 4 of the 1973 Constitution
The term "natural-born citizen" first appeared in
this jurisdiction in the 1935 Constitution's provision
stipulating the qualifications for President and SECTION 4. A natural-born citizen is
Vice-President of the Philippines. Article VII, one who is a citizen of the Philippines
Section 3 read: from birth without having to perform
any act to acquire or perfect his
SECTION 3. No person may be elected Philippine citizenship.
to the office of President or Vice-
President, unless he be a natural-born The present Constitution adopted most of the
citizen of the Philippines, a qualified provisions of the 1973 Constitution on citizenship,
voter, forty years of age or over, and has
"except for subsection (3) thereof that aimed to
been a resident of the Philippines for at
correct the irregular situation generated by the
least ten years immediately preceding
the election. questionable proviso in the 1935 Constitution."

While it used the term "natural-born citizen," the Article IV, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution now
1935 Constitution did not define the term. reads:

Section 1. The following are citizens of the

Article II, Section 1(4) of the 1935 Constitution—
read with the then civil law provisions that
stipulated the automatic loss of Filipino citizens lip (1) Those who are citizens of the
by women who marry alien husbands—was Philippines at the time of the
discriminatory towards women. The 1973 adoption of this Constitution;
Constitution rectified this problematic situation:
(2) Those whose fathers or mothers
are citizens of the Philippines;
SECTION 1. The following are citizens of the
Philippines: (3) Those born before January 17,
(1) Those who are citizens of the Philippines at the 1973, of Filipino mothers, who elect
time of the adoption of this Constitution. Philippine citizenship upon
reaching the age of majority; and
(2) Those whose fathers or mothers are citizens of the
Philippines. (4) Those who are naturalized in
accordance with law.
(3) Those who elect Philippine citizenship pursuant to
Article IV, Section 2 also calibrated the 1973
the provisions of the Constitution of nineteen
hundred and thirty-five. Constitution's previous definition of natural-born
citizens, as follows:
(4) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law.
Sec. 2. Natural-born citizens are those
who are citizens of the Philippines from
SECTION 2. A female citizen of the birth without having to perform any act
Philippines who marries an alien shall to acquire or perfect their Philippine
retain her Philippine citizenship, unless citizenship. Those who elect Philippine
by her act or omission she is deemed, citizenship in accordance with
paragraph (3), Section 1 hereof shall be
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
deemed natural-born citizens. (Emphasis Electoral Tribunal, G.R. No. 221538, September 20,
supplied) 2016)

Ironically, the concept of "natural-born" citizenship To determine whether private respondent is a

is a "foreign" concept that was transplanted into natural-born citizen, we must look into whether
this jurisdiction as part of the 1935 Constitution's she had to do anything to perfect her citizenship. In
eligibility requirements for President and Vice- view of Bengson, this calls for an inquiry into
President of the Philippines. xxx. whether she underwent the naturalization process
to become a Filipino.
In the United States Constitution, from which this
concept originated, the term "natural-born citizen" She did not.
appears in only a single instance: as an eligibility
requirement for the presidency. It is not defined in At no point has it been substantiated that private
that Constitution or in American laws. Its origins respondent went through the actual naturalization
and rationale for inclusion as a requirement for the process. There is no more straightforward and
presidency are not even found in the records of more effective way to terminate this inquiry than
constitutional deliberations. However, it has been this realization of total and utter lack of proof.
suggested that, as the United States was under
British colonial rule before its independence, the At most, there have been suggestions likening a
requirement of being natural-born was introduced preferential approach to foundlings, as well as
as a safeguard against foreign infiltration in the compliance with Republic Act No. 9225, with
administration of national government xxx. naturalization. These attempts at analogies are
misplaced. The statutory mechanisms for
In the United States, however, citizenship is based naturalization are clear, specific, and narrowly
on jus soli, not jus sanguinis. (David v. Senate devised. The investiture of citizenship on
Electoral Tribunal, G.R. No. 221538, September 20, foundlings benefits children, individuals whose
2016) capacity to act is restricted. It is a glaring mistake to
liken them to an adult filing before the relevant
Today, there are only two (2) categories of Filipino authorities a sworn petition seeking to become a
citizens: natural-born and naturalized. Filipino, the grant of which is contingent on
evidence that he or she must himself or herself
A natural-born citizen is defined in Article IV, adduce. As shall later be discussed, Republic Act
Section 2 as one who is a citizen of the Philippines No. 9225 is premised on the immutability of
"from birth without having to perform any act to natural-born status. It privileges natural-born
acquire or perfect Philippine citizenship." By citizens and proceeds from an entirely different
necessary implication, a naturalized citizen is one premise from the restrictive process of
who is not natural-born. Xxx. naturalization.

One who desires to acquire Filipino citizenship by So too, the jurisprudential treatment of
naturalization is generally required to file a verified naturalization vis-a-vis natural-born status is clear.
petition. He or she must establish, among others, It should be with the actual process of
that he or she is of legal age, is of good moral naturalization that natural-born status is to be
character, and has the capacity to adapt to Filipino contrasted, not against other procedures relating to
culture, tradition, and principles, or otherwise has citizenship. Otherwise, the door may be thrown
resided in the Philippines for a significant period of open for the unbridled diminution of the status of
time. Further, the applicant must show that he or citizens. (David v. Senate Electoral Tribunal, G.R. No.
she will not be a threat to the state, to the public, 221538, September 20, 2016)
and to the Filipinos' core beliefs. (David v. Senate
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
Natural-born citizenship is not concerned with behaved. The absence of an international airport in
being a human thoroughbred. Jaro, Iloilo precludes the possibility of a foreigner
mother, along with a foreigner father, swiftly and
Section 2 defines "natural-born citizens." Section surreptitiously coming in and out of Jaro, Iloilo just
1(2) stipulates that to be a citizen, either one's father to give birth and leave her offspring there. Though
or one's mother must be a Filipino citizen. proof of ethnicity is unnecessary, her physical
features nonetheless attest to it. (David v. Senate
That is all there is to Section 1(2). Physical features, Electoral Tribunal, G.R. No. 221538, September 20,
genetics, pedigree, and ethnicity are not 2016)
determinative of citizenship.
Apart from how private respondent is a natural-
Section 1(2) does not require one's parents to be born Filipino citizen consistent with a reading that
natural-born Filipino citizens. It does not even harmonizes Article IV, Section 2's definition of
require them to conform to traditional conceptions natural-born citizens and Section 1(2)'s reference to
of what is indigenously or ethnically Filipino. One parentage, the Constitution sustains a presumption
or both parents can, therefore, be ethnically foreign. that all foundlings found in the Philippines are
born to at least either a Filipino father or a Filipino
Section 1(2) requires nothing more than one mother and are thus natural-born, unless there is
ascendant degree: parentage. The citizenship of substantial proof otherwise. Consistent with Article
everyone else in one's ancestry is irrelevant. There IV, Section 1(2), any such countervailing proof
is no need, as petitioner insists, for a pure Filipino must show that both—not just one—of a
bloodline. foundling's biological parents are not Filipino
citizens. (David v. Senate Electoral Tribunal, G.R. No.
Section 1(2) requires citizenship, not identity. A 221538, September 20, 2016)
conclusion of Filipino citizenship may be sustained
by evidence adduced in a proper proceeding, The presumption that all foundlings found in the
which substantially proves that either or both of Philippines are born to at least either a Filipino
one's parents is a Filipino citizen. (David v. Senate father or a Filipino mother (and are thus natural-
Electoral Tribunal, G.R. No. 221538, September 20, born, unless there is substantial proof otherwise)
2016) arises when one reads the Constitution as a whole,
so as to "effectuate [its] whole purpose."
Private respondent was found as a newborn infant
outside the Parish Church of Jaro, Iloilo on As much as we have previously harmonized
September 3, 1968. In 1968, Iloilo, as did most—if Article IV, Section 2 with Article IV, Section 1(2),
not all—Philippine provinces, had a predominantly constitutional provisions on citizenship must not be
Filipino population. Private respondent is taken in isolation. They must be read in light of the
described as having "brown almond-shaped eyes, a constitutional mandate to defend the well-being of
low nasal bridge, straight black hair and an oval- children, to guarantee equal protection of the law
shaped face." She stands at 5 feet and 2 inches tall. and equal access to opportunities for public service,
Further, in 1968, there was no international airport and to respect human rights. They must also be
in Jaro, Iloilo. read in conjunction with the Constitution's reasons
for requiring natural-born status for select public
These circumstances are substantial evidence offices. Further, this presumption is validated by
justifying an inference that her biological parents contemporaneous construction that considers
were Filipino. Her abandonment at a Catholic related legislative enactments, executive and
Church is more or less consistent with how a administrative actions, and international
Filipino who, in 1968, lived in a predominantly instruments.
religious and Catholic environment, would have
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
Article II, Section 13 and Article XV, Section 3 of Filipino citizens is tantamount to permanently
the 1987 Constitution require the state to enhance discriminating against our foundling citizens. They
children's well-being and to project them from can then never be of service to the country in the
conditions prejudicial to or that may undermine highest possible capacities. It is also tantamount to
their development. Fulfilling this mandate includes excluding them from certain means such as
preventing discriminatory conditions and, professions and state scholarships, which will
especially, dismantling mechanisms for enable the actualization of their aspirations. These
discrimination that hide behind the veneer of the consequences cannot be tolerated by the
legal apparatus xxx. Constitution, not least of all through the present
Certain crucial government offices are exclusive to politically charged proceedings, the direct objective
natural-born citizens of the Philippines. The 1987 of which is merely to exclude a singular politician
Constitution makes the following offices exclusive from office. Concluding that foundlings are not
to natural-born citizens: natural-born citizens creates an inferior class of
citizens who are made to suffer that inferiority
(1) President;
through no fault of their own.
(2) Vice-President;
If that is not discrimination, we do not know what
(3) Senator; is. (David v. Senate Electoral Tribunal, G.R. No.
221538, September 20, 2016)
(4) Member of the House of Representatives;
The equal protection clause serves as a guarantee
(5) Member of the Supreme Court or any lower
collegiate court; that "persons under like circumstances and falling
within the same class are treated alike, in terms of
(6) Chairperson and Commissioners of the Civil 'privileges conferred and liabilities enforced.' It is a
Service Commission; guarantee against 'undue favor and individual or
class privilege, as well as hostile discrimination or
(7) Chairperson and Commissioners of the oppression of inequality.'"
Commission on Elections;

(8) Chairperson and Commissioners of the Other than the anonymity of their biological
Commission on Audit; parents, no substantial distinction differentiates
foundlings from children with known Filipino
(9) Ombudsman and his or her deputies; parents. They are both entitled to the full extent of
the state's protection from the moment of their
(10) Board of Governors of the Bangko Sentral ng birth. Foundlings' misfortune in failing to identify
Pilipinas; and
the parents who abandoned them—an inability
(11) Chairperson and Members of the Commission on arising from no fault of their own—cannot be the
Human Rights. foundation of a rule that reduces them to
statelessness or, at best, as inferior, second-class
citizens who are not entitled to as much benefits
Apart from these, other positions that are limited to and protection from the state as those who know
natural-born citizens include, among others, city their parents. Sustaining this classification is not
fiscals, assistant city fiscals, Presiding Judges and only inequitable; it is dehumanizing. It condemns
Associate Judges of the Sandiganbayan, and other those who, from the very beginning of their lives,
public offices. Certain professions are also limited were abandoned to a life of desolation and
to natural-born citizens, as are other legally deprivation. xxx. Even more basic than their being
established benefits and incentives. citizens of the Philippines, foundlings are human
persons whose dignity we value and rights we, as a
Concluding that foundlings are not natural-born
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
civilized nation, respect. (David v. Senate Electoral International Covenant on Civil and Political
Tribunal, G.R. No. 221538, September 20, 2016) Rights. As with the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, this treaty requires that children be allowed
Congress has enacted statutes founded on the immediate registration after birth and to acquire a
premise that foundlings are Filipino citizens at nationality. xxx. Consistent with this statute is our
birth. It has adopted mechanisms to effect the ratification of the United Nations Convention on
constitutional mandate to protect children. the Rights of the Child. This specifically requires
Likewise, the Senate has ratified treaties that put the states-parties' protection of: first, children's
this mandate into effect. rights to immediate registration and nationality
after birth; second, against statelessness; and third,
Republic Act No. 9344, otherwise known as the against discrimination on account of their birth
Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, provides: status xxx.

SEC. 2. Declaration of State Policy. - Accordingly, by the Constitution and by statute,

The following State policies shall be foundlings cannot be the object of discrimination.
observed at all times: They are vested with the rights to be registered and
granted nationality upon birth. To deny them these
(b) The State shall protect the best
rights, deprive them of citizenship, and render
interests of the child through measures
that will ensure the observance of them stateless is to unduly burden them,
international standards of child discriminate them, and undermine their
protection, especially those to which development.
the Philippines is a party. Proceedings
before any authority shall be conducted Not only Republic Act No. 9344, the Convention on
in the best interest of the child and in a the Rights of the Child, and the International
manner which allows the child to Covenant on Civil and Political Rights effect the
participate and to express
constitutional dictum of promoting the well-being
himself/herself freely. The participation
of children and protecting them from
of children in the program and policy
formulation and implementation related discrimination. Other legislative enactments
to juvenile justice and welfare shall be demonstrate the intent to treat foundlings as
ensured by the concerned government Filipino citizens from birth.
Republic Act No. 8552, though briefly referred to as
Section 4(b) of the Republic Act No. 9344 defines the Domestic Adoption Act of 1998, is formally
the "best interest of the child" as the "totality of the entitled An Act Establishing the Rules and Policies
circumstances and conditions which are most on Domestic Adoption of Filipino Children and
congenial to the survival, protection and feelings of for Other Purposes. It was enacted as a mechanism
security of the child and most encouraging to the to "provide alternative protection and assistance
child's physical, psychological and emotional through foster care or adoption of every child who
development." is neglected, orphaned, or abandoned."

Consistent with this statute is our ratification of the Foundlings are explicitly among the "Filipino
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the children" covered by Republic Act No. 8552 xxx.
Child. This specifically requires the states-parties' Similarly, Republic Act No. 8043, though briefly
protection of: first, children's rights to immediate referred to as the Inter-Country Adoption Act of
registration and nationality after birth; second, 1995, is formally entitled An Act Establishing the
against statelessness; and third, against Rules to Govern Inter-Country Adoption of
discrimination on account of their birth status. xxx. Filipino Children, and for Other Purposes. As with
The Philippines likewise ratified the 1966 Republic Act No. 8552, it expressly includes
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ
foundlings among "Filipino children" who may be
adopted xxx. (David v. Senate Electoral Tribunal, G.R. Private respondent has complied with all of these
No. 221538, September 20, 2016) requirements. First, on July 7, 2006, she took the
Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the
Thus, natural-born Filipinos who have been Philippines. Second, on August 31, 2006, she
naturalized elsewhere and wish to run for elective became a registered voter of Barangay Santa Lucia,
public office must comply with all of the following San Juan. This evidences her compliance with
requirements: Article V, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution. Since
she was to vote within the country, this dispensed
First, taking the oath of allegiance to the Republic. with the need to comply with the Overseas
This effects the retention or reacquisition of one's Absentee Voting Act of 2003. Lastly, on October 20,
status as a natural-born Filipino. This also enables 2010, she executed an Affidavit of Renunciation of
the enjoyment of full civil and political rights, Allegiance to the United States of America and
subject to all attendant liabilities and Renunciation of American Citizenship. This was
responsibilities under existing laws, provided the complemented by her execution of an
solemnities recited in Section 5 of Republic Act No. Oath/Affirmation of Renunciation of Nationality of
9225 are satisfied. the United States before Vice-Consul Somer E.
Bessire-Briers on July 12, 2011, which was, in turn,
Second, compliance with Article V, Section 1 of the followed by Vice Consul Jason Galian's issuance of
1987 Constitution, Republic Act No. 9189, a Certificate of Loss of Nationality on December 9,
otherwise known as the Overseas Absentee Voting 2011 and the approval of this certificate by the
Act of 2003, and other existing laws. This is to Overseas Citizen Service, Department of State, on
facilitate the exercise of the right of suffrage; that is, February 3, 2012.
to allow for voting in elections.
Private respondent has, therefore, not only fully
Third, "mak[ing] a personal and sworn reacquired natural-born citizenship; she has also
renunciation of any and all foreign citizenship complied with all of the other requirements for
before any public officer authorized to administer eligibility to elective public office, as stipulated in
an oath." This, along with satisfying the other Republic Act No. 9225. (David v. Senate Electoral
qualification requirements under relevant laws, Tribunal, G.R. No. 221538, September 20, 2016)
makes one eligible for elective public office.
It is incorrect to intimate that private respondent's
As explained in Sobejana-Condon v. Commission on having had to comply with Republic Act No. 9225
Elections, this required sworn renunciation is shows that she is a naturalized, rather than a
intended to complement Article XI, Section 18 of natural-born, Filipino citizen. It is wrong to
the Constitution in that "[p]ublic officers and postulate that compliance with Republic Act No.
employees owe the State and this Constitution 9225 signifies the performance of acts to perfect
allegiance at all times and any public officer or citizenship.
employee who seeks to change his citizenship or
acquire the status of an immigrant of another To do so is to completely disregard the unequivocal
country during his tenure shall be dealt with by policy of permanence and immutability as
law." It is also in view of this that Section 5(5) articulated in Section 2 of Republic Act No. 9225
similarly bars those who seek or occupy public and as illuminated in jurisprudence. It is to
office elsewhere and/or who are serving in the erroneously assume that a natural-born Filipino
armed forces of other countries from being citizen's naturalization elsewhere is an irreversible
appointed or elected to public office in the termination of his or her natural-born status. (David
Philippines. (David v. Senate Electoral Tribunal, G.R. v. Senate Electoral Tribunal, G.R. No. 221538,
No. 221538, September 20, 2016) September 20, 2016)
Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ

Bengson, speaking on the analogous situation of

repatriation, ruled that repatriation involves the
restoration of former status or the recovery of one's
original nationality:

Moreover, repatriation results in the

recovery of the original nationality. This
means that a naturalized Filipino who
lost his citizenship will be restored to
his prior status as a naturalized Filipino
citizen. On the other hand, if he was
originally a natural-born citizen before he
lost his Philippine citizenship, he will be
restored to his former status as a natural-
born Filipino. (Emphasis supplied)

Although Bengson was decided while

Commonwealth Act No. 63 was in force, its ruling
is in keeping with Republic Act No. 9225 's policy
of permanence and immutablity: "all Philippine
citizens of another country shall be deemed not to
have lost their Philippine citizenship." In Bengson's
words, the once naturalized citizen is "restored" or
brought back to his or her natural-born status.
There may have been an interruption in the
recognition of this status, as, in the interim, he or
she was naturalized elsewhere, but the restoration
of natural-born status expurgates this intervening
fact. Thus, he or she does not become a Philippine
citizen only from the point of restoration and
moving forward. He or she is recognized, de jure,
as a Philippine citizen from birth, although the
intervening fact may have consequences de facto.

Republic Act No. 9225 may involve extended

processes not limited to taking the Oath of
Allegiance and requiring compliance with
additional solemnities, but these are for facilitating
the enjoyment of other incidents to citizenship, not
for effecting the reacquisition of natural-born
citizenship itself. Therefore, it is markedly different
from naturalization as there is no singular,
extended process with which the former natural-
born citizen must comply. (David v. Senate Electoral
Tribunal, G.R. No. 221538, September 20, 2016)

Excerpts from the 2016 Decisions of the Supreme Court by Atty. CARLO L. CRUZ