You are on page 1of 109

G.R. No.

101837 February 11, 1992


ROLITO GO y TAMBUNTING, petitioner,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, THE HON. BENJAMIN V. PELAYO, Presiding Judge,
Branch 168, Regional Trial Court, NCJR Pasig, M.M., and PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents.

FELICIANO, J.:
According to the findings of the San Juan Police in their Investigation Report, 1 on 2
July 1991, Eldon Maguan was driving his car along Wilson St., San Juan, Metro Manila,
heading towards P. Guevarra St. Petitioner entered Wilson St., where it is a one-way
street and started travelling in the opposite or "wrong" direction. At the corner of
Wilson and J. Abad Santos Sts., petitioner's and Maguan's cars nearly bumped each
other. Petitioner alighted from his car, walked over and shot Maguan inside his car.
Petitioner then boarded his car and left the scene. A security guard at a nearby
restaurant was able to take down petitioner's car plate number. The police arrived
shortly thereafter at the scene of the shooting and there retrieved an empty shell and
one round of live ammunition for a 9 mm caliber pistol. Verification at the Land
Transportation Office showed that the car was registered to one Elsa Ang Go.
The following day, the police returned to the scene of the shooting to find out where
the suspect had come from; they were informed that petitioner had dined at Cravings
Bake Shop shortly before the shooting. The police obtained a facsimile or impression of
the credit card used by petitioner from the cashier of the bake shop. The security guard
of the bake shop was shown a picture of petitioner and he positively identified him as
the same person who had shot Maguan. Having established that the assailant was
probably the petitioner, the police launched a manhunt for petitioner.
On 8 July 1991, petitioner presented himself before the San Juan Police Station to verify
news reports that he was being hunted by the police; he was accompanied by two (2)
lawyers. The police forthwith detained him. An eyewitness to the shooting, who was at
the police station at that time, positively identified petitioner as the gunman. That same
day, the police promptly filed a complaint for frustrated homicide 2 against petitioner
with the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Rizal. First Assistant Provincial Prosecutor
Dennis Villa Ignacio ("Prosecutor") informed petitioner, in the presence of his lawyers,
that he could avail himself of his right to preliminary investigation but that he must first
sign a waiver of the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code. Petitioner
refused to execute any such waiver.
On 9 July 1991, while the complaint was still with the Prosecutor, and before an
information could be filed in court, the victim, Eldon Maguan, died of his gunshot
wound(s).
Accordingly, on 11 July 1991, the Prosecutor, instead of filing an information for
frustrated homicide, filed an information for murder 3 before the Regional Trial Court.
No bail was recommended. At the bottom of the information, the Prosecutor certified
that no preliminary investigation had been conducted because the accused did not
execute and sign a waiver of the provisions of Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code.
In the afternoon of the same day, 11 July 1991, counsel for petitioner filed with the
Prosecutor an omnibus motion for immediate release and proper preliminary
investigation,4 alleging that the warrantless arrest of petitioner was unlawful and that
no preliminary investigation had been conducted before the information was filed.
Petitioner also prayed that he be released on recognizance or on bail. Provincial
Prosecutor Mauro Castro, acting on the omnibus motion, wrote on the last page of the
motion itself that he interposed no objection to petitioner being granted provisional
liberty on a cash bond of P100,000.00.
On 12 July 1991, petitioner filed an urgent ex-parte motion for special raffle 5 in order
to expedite action on the Prosecutor's bail recommendation. The case was raffled to the
sala of respondent Judge, who, on the same date, approved the cash bond 6 posted by
petitioner and ordered his release. 7 Petitioner was in fact released that same day.
On 16 July 1991, the Prosecutor filed with the Regional Trial Court a motion for leave to
conduct preliminary investigation8 and prayed that in the meantime all proceedings in
the court be suspended. He stated that petitioner had filed before the Office of the
Provincial Prosecutor of Rizal an omnibus motion for immediate release and preliminary
investigation, which motion had been granted by Provincial Prosecutor Mauro Castro,
who also agreed to recommend cash bail of P100,000.00. The Prosecutor attached to
the motion for leave a copy of petitioner's omnibus motion of 11 July 1991.
Also on 16 July 1991, the trial court issued an Order 9 granting leave to conduct
preliminary investigation and cancelling the arraignment set for 15 August 1991 until
after the prosecution shall have concluded its preliminary investigation.
On 17 July 1991, however, respondent Judge motu proprio issued an
Order, 10 embodying the following: (1) the 12 July 1991 Order which granted bail was
recalled; petitioner was given 48 hours from receipt of the Order to surrender himself;
(2) the 16 July 1991 Order which granted leave to the prosecutor to conduct
preliminary investigation was recalled and cancelled; (3) petitioner's omnibus motion for
immediate release and preliminary investigation dated 11 July 1991 was treated as a
petition for bail and set for hearing on 23 July 1991.
On 19 July 1991, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition
and mandamus before the Supreme Court assailing the 17 July 1991 Order, contending
that the information was null and void because no preliminary investigation had been
previously conducted, in violation of his right to due process. Petitioner also moved for
suspension of all proceedings in the case pending resolution by the Supreme Court of
his petition; this motion was, however, denied by respondent Judge.
On 23 July 1991, petitioner surrendered to the police.
By a Resolution dated 24 July 1991, this Court remanded the petition for certiorari,
prohibition and mandamus to the Court of Appeals.
On 16 August 1991, respondent Judge issued an order in open court setting the
arraignment of petitioner on 23 August 1991.
On 19 August 1991, petitioner filed with the Court of Appeals a motion to restrain his
arraignment.
On 23 August 1991, respondent judge issued a Commitment Order directing the
Provincial Warden of Rizal to admit petitioner into his custody at the Rizal Provincial Jail.
On the same date, petitioner was arraigned. In view, however, of his refusal to enter a
plea, the trial court entered for him a plea of not guilty. The Trial court then set the
criminal case for continuous hearings on 19, 24 and 26 September; on 2, 3, 11 and 17
October; and on 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22 November 1991. 11
On 27 August 1991, petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus 12 in the Court of
Appeals. He alleged that in view of public respondent's failure to join issues in the
petition for certiorari earlier filed by him, after the lapse of more than a month, thus
prolonging his detention, he was entitled to be released on habeas corpus.
On 30 August 1991, the Court of Appeals issued the writ of habeas corpus. 13 The
petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, on the one hand, and the petition
for habeas corpus, upon the other, were subsequently consolidated in the Court of
Appeals.
The Court of Appeals, on 2 September 1991, issued a resolution denying petitioner's
motion to restrain his arraignment on the ground that that motion had become moot
and academic.
On 19 September 1991, trial of the criminal case commenced and the prosecution
presented its first witness.
On 23 September 1991, the Court of Appeals rendered a consolidated
decision 14 dismissing the two (2) petitions, on the following grounds:
a. Petitioner's warrantless arrest was valid because the offense for which
he was arrested and charged had been "freshly committed." His identity
had been established through investigation. At the time he showed up at
the police station, there had been an existing manhunt for him. During the
confrontation at the San Juan Police Station, one witness positively
identified petitioner as the culprit.
b. Petitioner's act of posting bail constituted waiver of any irregularity
attending his arrest. He waived his right to preliminary investigation by
not invoking it properly and seasonably under the Rules.
c. The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it issued the 17 July
1991 Order because the trial court had the inherent power to amend and
control its processes so as to make them conformable to law and justice.
d. Since there was a valid information for murder against petitioner and a
valid commitment order (issued by the trial judge after petitioner
surrendered to the authorities whereby petitioner was given to the
custody of the Provincial Warden), the petition for habeas corpus could
not be granted.
On 3 October 1991, the prosecution presented three (3) more witnesses at the trial.
Counsel for petitioner also filed a "Withdrawal of Appearance" 15 with the trial court,
with petitioner's conformity.
On 4 October 1991, the present Petition for Review on Certiorari was filed. On 14
October 1991, the Court issued a Resolution directing respondent Judge to hold in
abeyance the hearing of the criminal case below until further orders from this Court.
In this Petition for Review, two (2) principal issues need to be addressed: first, whether
or not a lawful warrantless arrest had been effected by the San Juan Police in respect of
petitioner Go; and second, whether petitioner had effectively waived his right to
preliminary investigation. We consider these issues seriatim.
In respect of the first issue, the Solicitor General argues that under the facts of the
case, petitioner had been validly arrested without warrant. Since petitioner's identity as
the gunman who had shot Eldon Maguan on 2 July 1991 had been sufficiently
established by police work, petitioner was validly arrested six (6) days later at the San
Juan Police Station. The Solicitor General invokes Nazareno v. Station Commander, etc.,
et al., 16 one of the seven (7) cases consolidated with In the Matter of the Petition for
Habeas Corpus of Roberto Umil, etc., v. Ramos, et al. 17 where a majority of the Court
upheld a warrantees arrest as valid although effected fourteen (14) days after the
killing in connection with which Nazareno had been arrested. Accordingly, in the view of
the Solicitor General, the provisions of Section 7, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court were
applicable and because petitioner had declined to waive the provisions of Article 125 of
the Revised Penal Code, the Prosecutor was legally justified in filing the information for
murder even without preliminary investigation.
On the other hand, petitioner argues that he was not lawfully arrested without warrant
because he went to the police station six (6) days after the shooting which he had
allegedly perpetrated. Thus, petitioner argues, the crime had not been "just committed"
at the time that he was arrested. Moreover, none of the police officers who arrested
him had been an eyewitness to the shooting of Maguan and accordingly none had the
"personal knowledge" required for the lawfulness of a warrantees arrest. Since there
had been no lawful warrantless arrest. Section 7, Rule 112 of the Rules of Court which
establishes the only exception to the right to preliminary investigation, could not apply
in respect of petitioner.
The reliance of both petitioner and the Solicitor General upon Umil v. Ramos is, in the
circumstances of this case, misplaced. In Umil v. Ramos, by an eight-to-six vote, the
Court sustained the legality of the warrantless arrests of petitioners made from one (1)
to fourteen days after the actual commission of the offenses, upon the ground that
such offenses constituted "continuing crimes." Those offenses were subversion,
membership in an outlawed organization like the New People's Army, etc. In the instant
case, the offense for which petitioner was arrested was murder, an offense which was
obviously commenced and completed at one definite location in time and space. No one
had pretended that the fatal shooting of Maguan was a "continuing crime."
Secondly, we do not believe that the warrantees "arrest" or detention of petitioner in
the instant case falls within the terms of Section 5 of Rule 113 of the 1985 Rules on
Criminal Procedure which provides as follows:
Sec. 5 Arrest without warrant; when lawful. — A peace officer or a private
person may, without warrant, arrest a person:
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is
actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense;
(b) When an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal
knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has
committed it; and
(c) When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a
penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or
temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being
transferred from one confinement to another.
In cases falling under paragraphs (a) and (b) hereof, the person arrested
without a warrant shall be forthwith delivered to the nearest police station
or jail, and he shall be proceed against in accordance with Rule 112,
Section 7.
Petitioner's "arrest" took place six (6) days after the shooting of Maguan. The
"arresting" officers obviously were not present, within the meaning of Section 5(a), at
the time petitioner had allegedly shot Maguan. Neither could the "arrest" effected six
(6) days after the shooting be reasonably regarded as effected "when [the shooting
had] in fact just been committed" within the meaning of Section 5(b). Moreover, none
of the "arresting" officers had any "personal knowledge" of facts indicating that
petitioner was the gunman who had shot Maguan. The information upon which the
police acted had been derived from statements made by alleged eyewitnesses to the
shooting — one stated that petitioner was the gunman; another was able to take down
the alleged gunman's car's plate number which turned out to be registered in
petitioner's wife's name. That information did not, however, constitute "personal
knowledge." 18
It is thus clear to the Court that there was no lawful warrantless arrest of petitioner
within the meaning of Section 5 of Rule 113. It is clear too that Section 7 of Rule 112,
which provides:
Sec. 7 When accused lawfully arrested without warrant. — When a person
is lawfully arrested without a warrant for an offense cognizable by the
Regional Trial Court the complaint or information may be filed by the
offended party, peace officer or fiscal without a preliminary investigation
having been first conducted, on the basis of the affidavit of the offended
party or arresting office or person
However, before the filing of such complaint or information, the person
arrested may ask for a preliminary investigation by a proper officer in
accordance with this Rule, but he must sign a waiver of the provisions of
Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, with the assistance of
a lawyer and in case of non-availability of a lawyer, a responsible person
of his choice. Notwithstanding such waiver, he may apply for bail as
provided in the corresponding rule and the investigation must be
terminated within fifteen (15) days from its inception.
If the case has been filed in court without a preliminary investigation
having been first conducted, the accused may within five (5) days from
the time he learns of the filing of the information, ask for a preliminary
investigation with the same right to adduce evidence in his favor in the
manner prescribed in this Rule. (Emphasis supplied)
is also not applicable. Indeed, petitioner was not arrested at all. When he walked into
San Juan Police Station, accompanied by two (2) lawyers, he in fact placed himself at
the disposal of the police authorities. He did not state that he was "surrendering"
himself, in all probability to avoid the implication he was admitting that he had slain
Eldon Maguan or that he was otherwise guilty of a crime. When the police filed a
complaint for frustrated homicide with the Prosecutor, the latter should have
immediately scheduled a preliminary investigation to determine whether there was
probable cause for charging petitioner in court for the killing of Eldon Maguan. Instead,
as noted earlier, the Prosecutor proceed under the erroneous supposition that Section 7
of Rule 112 was applicable and required petitioner to waive the provisions of Article 125
of the Revised Penal Code as a condition for carrying out a preliminary investigation.
This was substantive error, for petitioner was entitled to a preliminary investigation and
that right should have been accorded him without any conditions. Moreover, since
petitioner had not been arrested, with or without a warrant, he was also entitled to be
released forthwith subject only to his appearing at the preliminary investigation.
Turning to the second issue of whether or not petitioner had waived his right to
preliminary investigation, we note that petitioner had from the very beginning
demanded that a preliminary investigation be conducted. As earlier pointed out, on the
same day that the information for murder was filed with the Regional Trial Court,
petitioner filed with the Prosecutor an omnibus motion for immediate release and
preliminary investigation. The Solicitor General contends that that omnibus motion
should have been filed with the trial court and not with the Prosecutor, and that the
petitioner should accordingly be held to have waived his right to preliminary
investigation. We do not believe that waiver of petitioner's statutory right to preliminary
investigation may be predicated on such a slim basis. The preliminary investigation was
to be conducted by the Prosecutor, not by the Regional Trial Court. It is true that at the
time of filing of petitioner's omnibus motion, the information for murder had already
been filed with the Regional Trial Court: it is not clear from the record whether
petitioner was aware of this fact at the time his omnibus motion was actually filed with
the Prosecutor. In Crespo v. Mogul, 19 this Court held:
The preliminary investigation conducted by the fiscal for the purpose of
determining whether a prima facie case exists to warranting the
prosecution of the accused is terminated upon the filing of the information
in the proper court. In turn, as above stated, the filing of said information
sets in motion the criminal action against the accused in Court. Should the
fiscal find it proper to conduct a reinvestigation of the case, at such stage,
the permission of the Court must be secured. After such reinvestigation
the finding and recommendations of the fiscal should be submitted to the
Court for appropriate action.While it is true that the fiscal has the quasi-
judicial discretion to determine whether or not a criminal case should be
filed in court or not, once the case had already been brought to Court
whatever disposition the fiscal may feel should be proper in the case
thereafter should be addressed for the consideration of the Court. The
only qualification is that the action of the Court must not impair the
substantial rights of the accused., or the right of the People to due
process of law.
xxx xxx xxx
The rule therefore in this jurisdiction is that once a complaint or
information is filed in Court any disposition of the case [such] as its
dismissal or the conviction or acquittal of the accused rests in the sound
discretion of the Court. Although the fiscal retains the direction and
control of the prosecution of criminal cases even while the case is already
in Court he cannot impose his opinion on the trial court. The Court is the
best and sole judge on what to do with the case before it. . .
. 20 (Citations omitted; emphasis supplied)
Nonetheless, since petitioner in his omnibus motion was asking for preliminary
investigation and not for a re-investigation (Crespo v. Mogul involved a re-
investigation), and since the Prosecutor himself did file with the trial court, on
the 5th day after filing the information for murder, a motion for leave to conduct
preliminary investigation (attaching to his motion a copy of petitioner's omnibus
motion), we conclude that petitioner's omnibus motion was in effect filed with
the trial court. What was crystal clear was that petitioner did ask for a
preliminary investigation on the very day that the information was filed without
such preliminary investigation, and that the trial court was five (5) days later
apprised of the desire of the petitioner for such preliminary investigation. Finally,
the trial court did in fact grant the Prosecutor's prayer for leave to conduct
preliminary investigation. Thus, even on the (mistaken) supposition apparently
made by the Prosecutor that Section 7 of Rule 112 of the Revised Court was
applicable, the 5-day reglementary period in Section 7, Rule 112 must be held to
have been substantially complied with.
We believe and so hold that petitioner did not waive his right to a preliminary
investigation. While that right is statutory rather than constitutional in its fundament,
since it has in fact been established by statute, it is a component part of due process in
criminal justice. 21 The right to have a preliminary investigation conducted before being
bound over to trial for a criminal offense and hence formally at risk of incarceration or
some other penalty, is not a mere formal or technical right; it is a substantive right. The
accused in a criminal trial is inevitably exposed to prolonged anxiety, aggravation,
humiliation, not to speak of expense; the right to an opportunity to avoid a process
painful to any one save, perhaps, to hardened criminals, is a valuable right. To deny
petitioner's claim to a preliminary investigation would be to deprive him the full
measure of his right to due process.
The question may be raised whether petitioner still retains his right to a preliminary
investigation in the instant case considering that he was already arraigned on 23 August
1991. The rule is that the right to preliminary investigation is waived when the accused
fails to invoke it before or at the time of entering a plea at arraignment. 22 In the
instant case, petitioner Go had vigorously insisted on his right to preliminary
investigation before his arraignment. At the time of his arraignment, petitioner was
already before the Court of Appeals on certiorari, prohibition and mandamusprecisely
asking for a preliminary investigation before being forced to stand trial.
Again, in the circumstances of this case, we do not believe that by posting bail
petitioner had waived his right to preliminary investigation. In People v. Selfaison, 23 we
did hold that appellants there had waived their right to preliminary investigation
because immediately after their arrest, they filed bail and proceeded to trial "without
previously claiming that they did not have the benefit of a preliminary
investigation." 24 In the instant case, petitioner Go asked for release on recognizance or
on bail and for preliminary investigation in one omnibus motion. He had thus claimed
his right to preliminary investigation before respondent Judge approved the cash bond
posted by petitioner and ordered his release on 12 July 1991. Accordingly, we cannot
reasonably imply waiver of preliminary investigation on the part of petitioner. In fact,
when the Prosecutor filed a motion in court asking for leave to conduct preliminary
investigation, he clearly if impliedly recognized that petitioner's claim to preliminary
investigation was a legitimate one.
We would clarify, however, that contrary to petitioner's contention the failure to accord
preliminary investigation, while constituting a denial of the appropriate and full measure
of the statutory process of criminal justice, did not impair the validity of the information
for murder nor affect the jurisdiction of the trial court. 25
It must also be recalled that the Prosecutor had actually agreed that petitioner was
entitled to bail. This was equivalent to an acknowledgment on the part of the
Prosecutor that the evidence of guilt then in his hands was not strong. Accordingly, we
consider that the 17 July 1991 order of respondent Judge recalling his own order
granting bail and requiring petitioner to surrender himself within forty-eight (48) hours
from notice, was plainly arbitrary considering that no evidence at all — and certainly
no new or additional evidence — had been submitted to respondent Judge that could
have justified the recall of his order issued just five (5) days before. It follows that
petitioner was entitled to be released on bail as a matter of right.
The final question which the Court must face is this: how does the fact that, in the
instant case, trial on the merits has already commenced, the Prosecutor having already
presented four (4) witnesses, impact upon, firstly, petitioner's right to a preliminary
investigation and, secondly, petitioner's right to be released on bail? Does he continue
to be entitled to have a preliminary investigation conducted in respect of the charge
against him? Does petitioner remain entitled to be released on bail?
Turning first to the matter of preliminary investigation, we consider that petitioner
remains entitled to a preliminary investigation although trial on the merits has already
began. Trial on the merits should be suspended or held in abeyance and a preliminary
investigation forthwith accorded to petitioner. 26 It is true that the Prosecutor might, in
view of the evidence that he may at this time have on hand, conclude that probable
cause exists; upon the other hand, the Prosecutor conceivably could reach the
conclusion that the evidence on hand does not warrant a finding of probable cause. In
any event, the constitutional point is that petitioner was not accorded what he was
entitled to by way of procedural due process. 27 Petitioner was forced to undergo
arraignment and literally pushed to trial without preliminary investigation, with
extraordinary haste, to the applause from the audience that filled the courtroom. If he
submitted to arraignment at trial, petitioner did so "kicking and screaming," in a manner
of speaking . During the proceedings held before the trial court on 23 August 1991, the
date set for arraignment of petitioner, and just before arraignment, counsel made very
clear petitioner's vigorous protest and objection to the arraignment precisely because of
the denial of preliminary investigation. 28 So energetic and determined were petitioner's
counsel's protests and objections that an obviously angered court and prosecutor dared
him to withdraw or walkout, promising to replace him with counsel de oficio. During the
trial, before the prosecution called its first witness, petitioner through counsel once
again reiterated his objection to going to trial without preliminary investigation:
petitioner's counsel made of record his "continuing objection." 29 Petitioner had
promptly gone to the appellate court on certiorari and prohibition to challenge the
lawfulness of the procedure he was being forced to undergo and the lawfulness of his
detention.30 If he did not walk out on the trial, and if he cross-examined the
prosecution's witnesses, it was because he was extremely loath to be represented by
counsel de oficio selected by the trial judge, and to run the risk of being held to have
waived also his right to use what is frequently the only test of truth in the judicial
process.
In respect of the matter of bail, we similarly believe and so hold that petitioner remains
entitled to be released on bail as a matter of right. Should the evidence already of
record concerning petitioner's guilt be, in the reasonable belief of the Prosecutor,
strong, the Prosecutor may move in the trial court for cancellation of petitioner's bail. It
would then be up to the trial court, after a careful and objective assessment of the
evidence on record, to grant or deny the motion for cancellation of bail.
To reach any other conclusions here, that is, to hold that petitioner's rights to a
preliminary investigation and to bail were effectively obliterated by evidence
subsequently admitted into the record would be to legitimize the deprivation of due
process and to permit the Government to benefit from its own wrong or culpable
omission and effectively to dilute important rights of accused persons well-nigh to the
vanishing point. It may be that to require the State to accord petitioner his rights to a
preliminary investigation and to bail at this point, could turn out ultimately to be largely
a ceremonial exercise. But the Court is not compelled to speculate. And, in any case, it
would not be idleceremony; rather, it would be a celebration by the State of the rights
and liberties of its own people and a re-affirmation of its obligation and determination
to respect those rights and liberties.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court resolved to GRANT the Petition for Review on Certiorari. The
Order of the trial court dated 17 July 1991 is hereby SET ASIDE and NULLIFIED, and
the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 23 September 1991 hereby REVERSED.
The Office of the Provincial Prosecutor is hereby ORDERED to conduct forthwith a
preliminary investigation of the charge of murder against petitioner Go, and to complete
such preliminary investigation within a period of fifteen (15) days from commencement
thereof. The trial on the merits of the criminal case in the Regional Trial Court shall be
SUSPENDED to await the conclusion of the preliminary investigation.
Meantime, petitioner is hereby ORDERED released forthwith upon posting of a cash bail
bond of One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00). This release shall be without
prejudice to any lawful order that the trial court may issue, should the Office of the
Provincial Prosecutor move for cancellation of bail at the conclusion of the preliminary
investigation.
No pronouncement as to costs. This Decision is immediately executory.
SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 110315. January 16, 1998]


RENATO CUDIA, petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS, The HON.CARLOS D.
RUSTIA, in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court
Branch LVI, Angeles City, respondents.
DECISION
ROMERO, J.:
Petitioner assails the decision[1] of the Court of Appeals dated May 14, 1993
dismissing his petition and finding that he had not been placed in double jeopardy by
the filing of a second information against him, although a first information charging the
same offense had been previously dismissed, over petitioners vigorous opposition.
The factual antecedents of the case are as follows:
On June 28, 1989, petitioner was arrested in Purok 6, Barangay Santa Inez,
Mabalacat,[2] Pampanga, by members of the then 174th PC Company, allegedly for
possessing an unlicensed revolver. He was brought to Camp Pepito, Sto. Domingo,
Angeles City, where he was detained. A preliminary investigation was thereafter
conducted by an investigating panel of prosecutors. As a result thereof, the City
Prosecutor of Angeles City filed an information against him for illegal possession of
firearms and ammunition, docketed as Criminal Case No. 11542, which reads as
follows:
That on or about the 28th day of June, 1989, in the City of Angeles, Philippines, and
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession and under his control
one (1) .38 Cal. Revolver (paltik) without any Serial Number with six (6) live
ammunitions, which he carried outside of his residence without having the necessary
authority and permit to carry the same.
ALL CONTRARY TO LAW.[3] (Emphasis petitioners.)
The case was raffled to Branch 60 of the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City
(hereafter the Angeles City RTC). Upon his arraignment on August 14, 1989, petitioner
pleaded not guilty to the charges. During the ensuing pre-trial, the court called the
attention of the parties to the fact that, contrary to the information, petitioner had
committed the offense in Mabalacat, and not in Angeles City.Inasmuch as there was an
existing arrangement among the judges of the Angeles City RTCs as to who would
handle cases involving crimes committed outside of Angeles City, the judge ordered the
re-raffling of the case to a branch assigned to criminal cases involving crimes
committed outside of the city. Thereafter, the case was assigned to Branch 56 of the
Angeles City RTC.
On October 31, 1989 however, the provincial prosecutor of Pampanga also filed an
information charging petitioner with the same crime of illegal possession of firearms
and ammunition, docketed as Criminal Case No. 11987. The case was likewise raffled to
Branch 56 of the Angeles City RTC. This prompted the prosecutor in Criminal Case No.
11542 to file a Motion to Dismiss/Withdraw the Information, stating that thru
inadvertence and oversight, the Investigating Panel was misled into hastily filing the
Information in this case, it appearing that the apprehension of the accused in
connection with the illegal possession of unlicensed firearm and ammunition was made
in Bgy. Sta. Inez, Mabalacat, Pampanga, within the jurisdiction of the Provincial
Prosecutor of Pampanga[4] and that the Provincial Prosecutor had filed its own
information against the accused, as a result of which two separate informations for the
same offense had been filed against petitioner. The latter filed his opposition to the
motion, but the trial court nonetheless, granted said motion to dismiss in its order dated
April 3, 1990.
On May 21, 1990, petitioner filed a Motion to Quash Criminal Case No. 11987 on
the ground that his continued prosecution for the offense of illegal possession of
firearms and ammunition for which he had been arraigned in Criminal Case No. 11542,
and which had been dismissed despite his opposition would violate his right not to be
put twice in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense. The trial court denied the
motion to quash; hence, petitioner raised the issue to the Court of Appeals. The
appellate court, stating that there was no double jeopardy, dismissed the same on the
ground that the petitioner could not have been convicted under the first information as
the same was defective. Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied; hence, this
appeal.
Petitioner points out the following as errors of the Court of Appeals:
1. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT FOUND THAT THE CITY
PROSECUTOR OF ANGELES CITY DID NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO FILE
THE FIRST INFORMATION.
2. THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE FIRST JEOPARDY
DID NOT ATTACH BECAUSE THE FIRST INFORMATION FILED AGAINST THE
ACCUSED WAS NOT VALID.
We shall discuss the assigned errors jointly as they are closely related.
Section 21, Article III of the 1987 Constitution provides that (n)o person shall be
twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense x x x. Pursuant to this
provision, Section 7 of Rule 117 of the Rules of Court provides in part that (w)hen an
accused has been convicted or acquitted, or the case against him dismissed or
otherwise terminated without his express consent by a court of competent jurisdiction,
upon a valid complaint or information or other formal charge sufficient in form and
substance to sustain a conviction and after the accused had pleaded to the charge, the
conviction or acquittal of the accused or the dismissal of the case shall be a bar to
another prosecution for the offense charged, x x x.
In order to successfully invoke the defense of double jeopardy, the following
requisites must be present: (1) a first jeopardy must have attached prior to the second;
(2) the first jeopardy must have been validly terminated; and (3) the second jeopardy
must be for the same offense or the second offense includes or is necessarily included
in the offense charged in the first information, or is an attempt to commit the same or a
frustration thereof.[5]
In determining when the first jeopardy may be said to have attached, it is
necessary to prove the existence of the following:
(a) Court of competent jurisdiction
(b) Valid complaint or information
(c) Arraignment
(c) Valid plea
(e) The defendant was acquitted or convicted or the case was dismissed or otherwise
terminated without the express consent of the accused.[6]
It is undisputed that petitioner was arraigned in Criminal Case No. 11542, that he
pleaded not guilty therein, and that the same was dismissed without his express
consent, nay, over his opposition even. We may thus limit the discussion to determining
whether the first two requisites have been met.
As to the first requisite, it is necessary that there be a court of competent
jurisdiction, for jurisdiction to try the case is essential to place an accused in
jeopardy. The Court of Appeals and the Solicitor General agreed that Branch 60, which
originally had cognizance of Criminal Case No. 11542, had no jurisdiction over the
case. In the words of the Solicitor General:
The first jeopardy did not also attach because Branch 60 of the Regional Trial Court of
Angeles City was not the proper venue for hearing the case. Venue in criminal cases is
jurisdictional, being an essential element of jurisdiction (Agbayani vs. Sayo, 89 SCRA
699).In all criminal prosecutions, the action shall be instituted and tried in the court of
the municipality or territory wherein the offense was committed or any one of the
essential ingredients thereof took place (People vs. Tomio, 202 SCRA 77). Although
both Branches 60 and 56 are sitting in Angeles City, it is Branch 56 which has
jurisdiction to try offenses committed in Mabalacat, Pampanga. Petitioner was arraigned
before Branch 60, not Branch 56.[7]
It must be borne in mind that the question of jurisdiction of a court over cases filed
before it must be resolved on the basis of the law or statute providing for or defining its
jurisdiction. Administrative Order No. 7, Series of 1983 provides that:
Pursuant to the provisions of Section 18 of B.P. Blg. 129, the Judiciary Reorganization
Act of 1980, and Section 4 of Executive Order No. 864 of the President of the
Philippines, dated January 17, 1983, the territorial areas of the Regional Trial Courts in
Region One to Twelve are hereby defined as follows:
xxxxxxxxx
PAMPANGA
xxxxxxxxx
1. Branches LVI to LXII, inclusive, with seats at Angeles City comprising ANGELES CITY
and the municipalities of Mabalacat, Magalang, and Porac as well as part of Clark Field
U.S. Airbase.
xxxxxxxxx
Clearly, Branches 56 to 62 had jurisdiction over the respective territories as
apportioned. Consequently, notwithstanding the internal arrangement of the judges of
the Angeles City RTCs, Branch 60 indubitably had jurisdiction over instant case. Writ
large in lawbooks is the doctrine that jurisdiction is conferred by law and not by mere
administrative policy of any trial court.
With respect to the second requisite, however, it is plainly apparent that the City
Prosecutor of Angeles City had no authority to file the first information, the offense
having been committed in the Municipality of Mabalacat, which is beyond his
jurisdiction. Presidential Decree No. 1275, in relation to Section 9 of the Administrative
Code of 1987, pertinently provides that:
Section 11. The provincial or the city fiscal shall:
xxxxxxxxx
b) Investigate and/or cause to be investigated all charges of crimes, misdemeanors and
violations of all penal laws and ordinances within their respective jurisdictions and have
the necessary information or complaint prepared or made against the persons accused.
In the conduct of such investigations he or his assistants shall receive the sworn
statements or take oral evidence of witnesses summoned by subpoena for the purpose.
x x x x x x x x x. (Emphasis supplied)
It is thus the Provincial Prosecutor of Pampanga, not the City Prosecutor, who
should prepare informations for offenses committed within Pampanga but outside of
Angeles City. An information, when required to be filed by a public prosecuting officer,
cannot be filed by another.[8] It must be exhibited or presented by the prosecuting
attorney or someone authorized by law. If not, the court does not acquire jurisdiction.[9]
Petitioner, however, insists that his failure to assert the lack of authority of the City
Prosecutor in filing the information in question is deemed a waiver thereof. [10] As
correctly pointed out by the Court of Appeals, petitioners plea to an information before
he filed a motion to quash may be a waiver of all objections to it insofar as formal
objections to the pleadings are concerned. But by clear implication, if not by express
provision of the Rules of Court, and by a long line of uniform decisions, [11] questions
relating to want of jurisdiction may be raised at any stage of the proceeding. It is a
valid information signed by a competent officer which, among other requisites, confers
jurisdiction on the court over the person of the accused (herein petitioner) and the
subject matter of the accusation. In consonance with this view, an infirmity in the
information, such as lack of authority of the officer signing it, cannot be cured by
silence, acquiescence, or even by express consent.[12]
In fine, there must have been a valid and sufficient complaint or information in the
former prosecution. If, therefore, the complaint or information was insufficient because
it was so defective in form or substance that the conviction upon it could not have been
sustained, its dismissal without the consent of the accused cannot be pleaded. As the
fiscal had no authority to file the information, the dismissal of the first information
would not be a bar to petitioners subsequent prosecution. Jeopardy does not attach
where a defendant pleads guilty to a defective indictment that is voluntarily dismissed
by the prosecution.[13]
Petitioner next claims that the lack of authority of the City Prosecutor was the error
of the investigating panel and the same should not be used to prejudice and penalize
him. It is an all too familiar maxim that the State is not bound or estopped by the
mistakes or inadvertence of its officials and employees.[14] To rule otherwise could very
well result in setting felons free, deny proper protection to the community, and give rise
to the possibility of connivance between the prosecutor and the accused.
Finally, petitioner avers that an amendment of the first information, and not its
dismissal, should have been the remedy sought by the prosecution. Suffice it to say
that this Court, in Galvez vs. Court of Appeals[15] has ruled that even if amendment is
proper, pursuant to Section 14 of Rule 110, it is also quite plausible under the same
provision that, instead of an amendment, an information may be dismissed to give way
to the filing of a new information.
In light of the foregoing principles, there is thus no breach of the constitutional
prohibition against twice putting an accused in jeopardy of punishment for the same
offense for the simple reason that the absence of authority of the City Prosecutor to file
the first information meant that petitioner could never have been convicted on the
strength thereof.
As the first information was fatally defective for lack of authority of the officer filing
it, the instant petition must fail for failure to comply with all the requisites necessary to
invoke double jeopardy.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DENIED. The decision of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 24958 is AFFIRMED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

LAILA G. DE OCAMPO, G.R. No. 147932


Petitioner,
Present:
QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,
CARPIO,
-versus- CARPIO MORALES, and
TINGA, JJ.

THE HONORABLE
SECRETARY OF JUSTICE,
MAGDALENA B. DACARRA, Promulgated:
and ERLINDA P. ORAYAN,
Respondents. January 25, 2006

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case
This petition for certiorari[1] assails the Resolutions dated 15 September 2000 and 19
April 2001 of the Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ Secretary) in I.C. No. 99-
6254.[2] The DOJ Secretary[3] denied Laila G. De Ocampos (petitioner) petition for
review of the investigating prosecutors finding of probable cause against her for
homicide[4] in relation to Section 10(a), Article VI of Republic Act No. 7610 (RA
7610)[5] and for violation of the same provision of RA 7610. The DOJ Secretary[6] also
denied petitioners motion for reconsideration.

The Facts

The present case arose from a sworn statement of respondent Magdalena B. Dacarra
(Magdalena) executed before the Womens Desk of the CPD Police Station in Batasan
Hills, Quezon City on 10 December 1999. Magdalena stated that on 4 December 1999,
her nine-year-old son Ronald complained of dizziness upon arriving home at about six in
the evening. Ronald then vomited, prompting Magdalena to ask what happened. Ronald
replied that petitioner, who was Ronalds teacher, banged his head against that of his
classmate Lorendo Orayan (Lorendo). Magdalena inspected Ronalds head and saw a
woundless contusion. Due to Ronalds continued vomiting, Magdalena brought him to a
quack doctor (arbularyo) on 5 December 1999. The following morning, Magdalena
brought Ronald to the East Avenue Medical Center where he underwent an x-ray. The
attending physician informed Magdalena that Ronalds head had a fracture. Blood oozed
out of Ronalds nose before he died on 9 December 1999.

Lorendo also executed a sworn statement narrating how petitioner banged his head
against Ronalds.

During the inquest proceedings on 14 December 1999, Assistant Quezon City


Prosecutor Maria Lelibet Sampaga (inquest prosecutor) ruled as follows:

Evidence warrants the release of the respondent for further


investigation of the charges against her. The case is not proper for inquest
as the incident complained of happened on December 4, 1999. Further,
we find the evidence insufficient to support the charge for homicide
against the respondent. There is no concrete evidence to show proof that
the alleged banging of the heads of the two minor victims could be the
actual and proximate cause of the death of minor Ronald Dacarra y
Baluton. Besides, the police report submitted by the respondent in this
case states that said victim bears stitches or sutures on the head due to a
vehicular accident. There is no certainty, therefore, that respondents
alleged wrongdoing contributed or caused the death of said victim.[7]

Subsequently, the case was referred to Assistant Quezon City Prosecutor Lorna
F. Catris-Chua Cheng (investigating prosecutor) for preliminary investigation. She
scheduled the first hearing on 6 January 2000.

Respondent Erlinda P. Orayan (Erlinda), Lorendos mother, attended the hearing


of 6 January 2000 and alleged that petitioner offered her P100,000, which she initially
accepted, for her and her sons non-appearance at the preliminary investigation. Erlinda
presented the money to the investigating prosecutor.

On 7 January 2000, Jennilyn Quirong, who witnessed the head-banging incident,


and Melanie Lugales, who claimed to be another victim of petitioners alleged cruel
deeds, filed their sworn statements with the Office of the Quezon City Prosecutor.

On 18 January 2000, petitioner submitted her counter-affidavit. Petitioner invoked the


disposition of the inquest prosecutor finding insufficient evidence to support the charges
against her. Petitioner assailed the omission in Magdalenas sworn statement about
Ronalds head injury due to a vehicular accident in November 1997. Petitioner pointed
out the absence of damage or injury on Lorendo as borne out by his medical certificate.
Petitioner contended that the head-banging incident was not the proximate cause of
Ronalds death, but the failed medical attention or medical negligence. Petitioner also
alleged that Jennilyn Quirong and Melanie Lugales have immature perception. Petitioner
further asserted that the causes of death stated in Ronalds Death Certificate are
hearsay and inadmissible in the preliminary investigation.

Ronalds Death Certificate shows the immediate cause of his death as Cardio
Pulmonary Arrest, the underlying cause as Cerebral Edema, and other significant
conditions contributing to death as Electrolyte imbalance and vomiting. The Autopsy
Report, obtained by the investigating prosecutor from the PNP Crime Laboratory in
Camp Crame, states the cause of death as Intracranial hemorrhage secondary to
traumatic injury of the head.

The investigating prosecutor issued a Resolution finding probable cause against


petitioner for the offenses charged. The dispositive portion of the Resolution reads:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, it is respectfully recommended


that [petitioner] be charged with Homicide in relation to Art. VI, Sec. 10 of
R.A. 7610 and Violation of Art. VI, Sec. 10(a) of R.A. 7610 with no bail
recommended for the Homicide since par. 6 of Art. VI of Sec. 10 of R.A.
7610 provides that:

For purposes of this Act, the penalty for the commission of


acts punishable under Articles 248, 249, 262, par. 2 and
263, par. 1 Act No. 3815, as amended, the Revised Penal
Code, for the crimes of murder, homicide, other intentional
mutilation and serious physical injuries, respectively, shall
be reclusion perpetua when the victim is under twelve (12)
years of age.

Bail recommended: No bail recommended Homicide, in relation to Art. VI,


Sec. 10, R.A. 7610; and Twenty Thousand pesos
(P20,000.00) Viol. of Sec. 10(a) of R.A. 7610[8]

Consequently, petitioner filed a petition for review with the DOJ.

In her appeal to the DOJ, petitioner contended that the investigating prosecutor
showed bias in favor of complainants Magdalena and Erlinda (complainants) for not
conducting a clarificatory hearing and unilaterally procuring the autopsy report.
Petitioner argued that the investigating prosecutor erred in concluding that her alleged
act of banging Ronald and Lorendos heads was the cause of Ronalds injury and that
such was an act of child abuse. Petitioner also alleged that it is the Office of the
Ombudsman which has jurisdiction over the case, and not the Quezon City Prosecutors
Office.

The Resolution of the DOJ Secretary

The DOJ Secretary denied the petition for review. The DOJ Secretary held that there
was no bias in complainants favor when the investigating prosecutor did not conduct a
clarificatory hearing and unilaterally procured the autopsy report as nothing precluded
her from doing so.

The DOJ Secretary upheld the investigating prosecutors finding that Ronalds injury was
the direct and natural result of petitioners act of banging Ronald and Lorendos heads.
The DOJ Secretary stated that petitioner never denied such act, making her responsible
for all its consequences even if the immediate cause of Ronalds death was allegedly the
failed medical attention or medical negligence. The DOJ Secretary held that assuming
there was failure of medical attention or medical negligence, these inefficient
intervening causes did not break the relation of the felony committed and the resulting
injury.
The DOJ Secretary rejected petitioners claim that she is innocent as held by the inquest
prosecutor. The inquest prosecutor did not dismiss the case. She merely recommended
petitioners release for further investigation since the case was not proper for inquest
and the evidence was then insufficient.

The DOJ Secretary further stated that the omission in Magdalenas sworn statement
about Ronalds head injury due to a vehicular accident in November 1997 and the
absence of any injury on Lorendo are inconsequential.

Moreover, the DOJ Secretary ruled that whether the statements of the causes of death
in the death certificate and autopsy report are hearsay, and whether Jennilyn Quirong
and Melanie Lugales have immature perception, are evidentiary matters which should
be determined during trial. The DOJ Secretary also sustained the investigating
prosecutors conclusion that the banging of Ronald and Lorendos heads is an act of child
abuse.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration[9] which the DOJ Secretary denied in his
Resolution dated 19 April 2001.[10]

Hence, this petition.

The Issues

Petitioner raises the following issues:

1. Whether petitioner was denied due process during the preliminary


investigation; and

2. Whether there is probable cause against petitioner for homicide under Article 249
of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 10(a), Article VI of RA 7610
and for violation of Section 10(a), Article VI of RA 7610.

The Ruling of the Court

The petition lacks merit.


Before resolving the substantive issues in this case, the Court will address the
procedural issue raised by the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG). [11] The OSG contends that instead of Rule 65, Rule 43 is applicable to the
present case. Thus, the OSGargues that the petition should be dismissed outright for
being filed with this Court, instead of with the Court of Appeals, under a wrong mode of
appeal. On the other hand, assuming Rule 65 applies, the OSG points out that the
petition for certiorari should be filed with the Court of Appeals.

Based on Memorandum Circular No. 58,[12] the resolution of the DOJ Secretary is
appealable administratively to the Office of the President since the offenses charged in
this case are punishable by reclusion perpetua.[13] From the Office of the President, the
aggrieved party may file an appeal with the Court of Appeals pursuant to Rule 43.[14]

Even assuming that the DOJ Secretary committed grave abuse of discretion in
rendering the assailed Resolutions amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, petitioner
should have filed the instant petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals. Hence, on
the issue alone of the propriety of the remedy sought by petitioner, this petition
for certiorari must fail. However, considering the gravity of the offenses charged and
the need to expedite the disposition of this case, the Court will relax the rules and
finally resolve this case in the interest of substantial justice.

Whether petitioner was denied


due process during the preliminary investigation

Absence of a clarificatory hearing

The Court rejects petitioners contention that she was denied due process when the
investigating prosecutor did not conduct a clarificatory hearing. A clarificatory hearing is
not indispensable during preliminary investigation. Rather than being mandatory, a
clarificatory hearing is optional on the part of the investigating officer as evidenced by
the use of the term may in Section 3(e) of Rule 112. This provision states:

(e) If the investigating officer believes that there are matters to


be clarified, he may set a hearing to propound clarificatory questions
to the parties or their witnesses, during which the parties shall be
afforded an opportunity to be present but without the right to examine
or cross-examine. xxx[15] (emphasis supplied)

The use of the word may in a statute commonly denotes that it is directory in nature.
The term may is generally permissive only and operates to confer discretion.[16] Under
Section 3(e) of Rule 112, it is within the discretion of the investigation officer whether
to set the case for further hearings to clarify some matters.

In this case, the investigating prosecutor no longer conducted hearings after


petitioner submitted her counter-affidavit. This simply means that at that point the
investigating prosecutor believed that there were no more matters for clarification. It is
only in petitioners mind that some crucial points still exist and need clarification. In any
event, petitioner can raise these important matters during the trial proper.

Petitioner was not deprived of due process since both parties were accorded
equal rights in arguing their case and presenting their respective evidence during the
preliminary investigation. Due process is merely an opportunity to be
heard.[17]Petitioner cannot successfully invoke denial of due process since she was given
the opportunity of a hearing.[18] She even submitted her counter-affidavit to the
investigating prosecutor on 18 January 2000.

Preliminary investigation is merely inquisitorial. It is not a trial of the case on the


merits.[19] Its sole purpose is to determine whether a crime has been committed and
whether the respondent is probably guilty of the crime.[20] It is not the occasion for
the full and exhaustive display of the parties evidence.[21] Hence, if the investigating
prosecutor is already satisfied that he can reasonably determine the existence of
probable cause based on the parties evidence thus presented, he may terminate the
proceedings and resolve the case.

Obtaining a copy of the autopsy report

Petitioner argues that she was denied the right to examine evidence submitted by
complainants when the investigating prosecutor unilaterally obtained a copy of the
autopsy report from the PNP Crime Laboratory.
Petitioner fails to persuade us. Though the autopsy report is not part of the
parties evidence, the Rules on preliminary investigation do not forbid the investigating
prosecutor from obtaining it. Neither is there a law requiring the investigating
prosecutor to notify the parties before securing a copy of the autopsy report. The
autopsy report, which states the causes of Ronalds death, can either absolve or
condemn the petitioner. Unfortunately for petitioner, the investigating prosecutor found
that the autopsy report bolstered complainants allegations.

Moreover, there is nothing to support petitioners claim that the investigating prosecutor
was biased in favor of complainants. There are other pieces of evidence aside from the
autopsy report upon which the investigating prosecutor based her finding of probable
cause. The autopsy report is not the sole piece of evidence against petitioner. The
sworn statement of the other victim, Lorendo, and the eyewitness account of Jennilyn
Quirong, substantiate the charges against petitioner. Petitioners failure to deny the
occurrence of the head-banging incident also strengthened complainants allegations.

Petitioner mistakenly cites Section 3(d) of Rule 112[22] in arguing that the investigating
prosecutor should not go beyond the evidence presented by complainants in resolving
the case. This provision applies if the respondent cannot be subpoenaed or if
subpoenaed fails to submit her counter-affidavit within the prescribed period. Such is
not the case here where petitioner filed her counter-affidavit and both parties presented
their respective evidence.

Whether there is probable cause


for the offenses charged against petitioner

Existence of probable cause

Petitioner challenges the finding of probable cause against her for the offenses charged
arguing that the head-banging incident was not the proximate cause of Ronalds death.
Petitioner insists that efficient intervening events caused Ronalds death.
We do not agree. There is probable cause for the offenses charged against petitioner.
Probable cause is the existence of such facts and circumstances as would excite the
belief in a reasonable mind that a crime has been committed and the respondent is
probably guilty of the crime.[23]

In the present case, Ronald, a nine-year-old student, died five days after his
teacher, petitioner in this case, allegedly banged his head against that of his classmate
Lorendo. There is nothing in the records showing petitioners specific denial of the
occurrence of such act. Petitioner simply stated that the head-banging incident
happened but [she] did not perpetrate it.[24] In effect, petitioner admits the occurrence
of the head-banging incident but denies committing it.

The alleged intervening events before Ronald died, namely: (a) the consultation
with a quack doctor, and (b) the three-day confinement in the East Avenue Medical
Center, are not sufficient to break the relation of the felony committed and the resulting
injury. Were it not for the head-banging incident, Ronald might not have needed
medical assistance in the first place.

These circumstances which allegedly intervened causing Ronalds death are evidentiary
matters which should be threshed out during the trial. The following are also matters
better left for the trial court to appreciate: (a) the contents of the death certificate and
autopsy report, (b) the medical records of Ronalds accident in November 1997, (c) the
perception of witnesses Jennilyn Quirong and Melanie Lugales, and (d) the alleged lack
of medical assistance or medical negligence which caused Ronalds death.

To repeat, what is determined during preliminary investigation is only probable


cause, not proof beyond reasonable doubt.[25] As implied by the words themselves,
probable cause is concerned with probability, not absolute or moral certainty.[26]

Asserting her innocence, petitioner continues to invoke the disposition of the inquest
prosecutor finding insufficient evidence for the charges against her. As correctly ruled
by the DOJ Secretary, the inquest prosecutor did not dismiss the case but merely
recommended it for further investigation since it was not proper for inquest and the
evidence was then insufficient. Moreover, petitioners active participation in the
preliminary investigation without questioning the propriety of such proceedings
indicates petitioners agreement with the recommendation of the inquest prosecutor for
the further investigation of the case.

Charges of Homicide and Child Abuse

Petitioners single act of allegedly banging the heads of her students had two distinct
victims, namely Ronald and Lorendo. Therefore, petitioner has to face prosecution for
cruelty to each victim. For Ronalds death, petitioner is being charged with homicide
under Article 249 of the Revised Penal Code[27] in relation to Section 10(a), Article VI of
RA 7610 punishable by reclusion perpetua.[28] However, this does not mean that
petitioner is being charged with the distinct offenses of homicide and child abuse for
Ronalds death. On the other hand, for her cruelty to Lorendo, petitioner is being
charged with violation of Section 10(a), Article VI of RA 7610 punishable by prision
mayor in its minimum period.
Contrary to petitioners contention, Section 10(a), Article VI of RA 7610 is clear.
This provision reads:

(a) Any person who shall commit any other acts of child abuse,
cruelty or exploitation or be responsible for other conditions prejudicial to
the childs development including those covered by Article 59 of
Presidential Decree No. 603, as amended, but not covered by the Revised
Penal Code, as amended, shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its
minimum period.

Ambiguity is a condition of admitting two or more meanings, of being understood in


more than one way, or of referring to two or more things at the same time. A statute is
ambiguous if it is susceptible to more than one interpretation.[29] In the present case,
petitioner fails to show convincingly the ambiguity in Section 10(a), Article VI of RA
7610.
Section 3(b), Article VI of RA 7610 defines child abuse as the maltreatment, whether
habitual or not, of the child which includes physical abuse and cruelty. Petitioners
alleged banging of the heads of Ronald and Lorendo is clearly an act of cruelty.

In a petition for certiorari like this case, the primordial issue is whether the DOJ
Secretary acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction. The Court rules that the DOJ Secretary did not commit grave abuse of
discretion in finding that there is probable cause to charge petitioner of the crimes of
homicide and child abuse. The Court further rules that the investigating prosecutor did
not act with grave abuse of discretion in securing motu proprio the autopsy report and
in not calling for a clarificatory hearing. This ruling does not diminish in any way the
constitutional right of petitioner to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proven.

WHEREFORE, we DENY the instant petition. We AFFIRM the Resolutions of


the Secretary of Justice dated 15 September 2000 and 19 April 2001 in I.C. No. 99-
6254. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

[G.R. Nos. 117952-53. February 14, 2001]


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, vs. DANILO DE GUZMAN y
PEREZ, accused-appellant.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
This is an appeal from the Decision[1] dated August 22, 1994 of the Regional Trial
Court of Cavite City, Branch 17, finding accused-appellant, Danilo de Guzman, guilty of
violation of Section 16, Article III, Republic Act 6425, otherwise known as the
Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of life
imprisonment and to pay a fine of P50,000.00 without subsidiary imprisonment in case
of insolvency.Furthermore, the trial court found him guilty of violation of Section 1,
Presidential Decree 1866, otherwise known as the Unlawful Possession of Firearms and
Ammunition, and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one
(1) day of reclusion temporal, as minimum, to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal,
as maximum, and to pay the costs in both instances.
In Criminal Case No. 39-94, accused-appellant Danilo de Guzman and Edsel Martin,
who is still at large, were charged with violation of Section 16, Article III of Republic Act
6425, in an information which reads as follows:
That on or about the 27th day of October 1992 at Villamar Beach Resort, Barangay San
Rafael IV, Municipality of Noveleta, Province of Cavite, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being authorized by
law, conspiring, confederating and mutually helping and aiding one another, did, then
and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, have possession, control and custody of
299.5 grams of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride commonly known as shabu, a
regulated drug, which is prohibited by law, in violation of the provisions of R.A 6425,
thereby causing damage and prejudice to the public interest.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[2]
In Criminal Case No. 40-94, accused-appellant Danilo de Guzman was charged with
violation of Section 1, PD 1866, in an information which reads as follows:
That on or about the 27th day of October 1992 at Villamar Beach Resort, Barangay San
Rafael IV, Municipality of Noveleta, Province of Cavite, Philippines and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, not being authorized by
law, did, then and there, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, have possession, control
and custody of one (1) Pistol Caliber 7.65 Walther PPK with serial number 527353 and
four (4) rounds of live ammunition, without first securing the necessary license and/or
permit from competent authority to possess the same, in violation of the provisions of
PD 1866, thereby causing damage and prejudice to the public interest.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[3]
Accused-appellant was arraigned on February 22, 1993 with the assistance of his
counsel de officio. He pleaded not guilty to both charges.
During the trial, the prosecution presented as its first witness, SPO1 Arnel Cuevas, a
police officer stationed at the Noveleta Police Station. He testified that prior to the
arrest of accused-appellant, Danilo de Guzman, the Police Chief Inspector of the Cavite
Philippine National Police Command issued an Order of Battle listing the names of the
suspected drug pushers in Cavite City.[4] Included therein was the name of accused-
appellant. In response to the said directive, the Noveleta Police Station assigned SPO1
Arnel Cuevas to conduct surveillance at the Villamar Beach Resort.[5]
On October 18, 1992, SPO1 Arnel Cuevas spotted Danilo de Guzman at the Villamar
Beach Resort, but the latter stayed for only thirty (30) minutes.[6] Subsequently, he
learned that De Guzman was engaged in a drug sale that day and reported the same to
headquarters.[7] Pursuant to his report, the Chief of Intelligence of their station, SPO2
Rowell Tendero, instructed him to continue his surveillance of said beach resort with
the hope of catching Danilo de Guzman.[8]
On October 26, 1992, at around 9:00 p.m., Danilo de Guzman returned to Villamar
Beach Resort with companion Edsel Martin. They rented one of the resort
cottages. Fifteen (15) minutes later, SPO1 Cuevas climbed the ladder which he perched
on the concrete wall of the cottage. He, then, peeped through the window of the
cottage and saw Danilo and Edsel seated face to face while using shabu.[9] He also saw
on top of the table three (3) plastic bags of shabu, a weighing scale and other drug
related paraphernalia.
SPO1 Cuevas hurriedly descended the ladder and hailed a tricycle and instructed
the driver to inform SPO2 Tendero to proceed to Villamar Beach Resort
immediately.[10] Shortly, SPO2 Tendero, along with other police officers, arrived at the
beach resort. However, instead of rushing to the cottage of De Guzman and Martin, the
police officers decided to wait for them to come out of the cottage. [11] SPO1 Cuevas
explained that they did this so as not to forewarn the two of their presence. Otherwise,
the two might simply flush the shabu down the toilet bowl and destroy the
evidence.[12] The police officers waited the whole night for De Guzman and Martin to
come out of the cottage.
Finally, De Guzman came out at around 7:40 a.m. the next day. SPO2 Tendero
nabbed him upon seeing that his waist was bulging with a gun.While Police Officer
Vedar held De Guzman, SPO2 Tendero went up the cottage to check on
Martin.[13] SPO2 Alfaro and SPO3 Benavise, accompanied by a chambermaid and a boy
from the resort, also went up with him.[14] Inside the cottage, the same paraphernalia
which the witness saw the night before were found, namely, three plastic bags of
shabu, a plastic scoop, a burner, a lighter, several empty rolled aluminum foils, three
(3) pieces of tooter, rubber band, several pieces of paper, a black clutch bag containing
a disposable lighter, two (2) forceps, a pair of scissors, a knife and a key holder with a
knife, filter, sandpaper, electric plug, pocket electronic weighing scale.[15]
The offenders were brought to the police station for questioning and
detention.[16] The police officers were without warrants of arrest or search warrants at
the time of the arrests and seizure of evidence.[17] As the operation was conducted
largely during nighttime, the police officers were unable to secure the necessary
warrants for fear of leaving the place of surveillance.[18]
Subsequent forensic examination by Felicisima Francisco of the National Bureau of
Investigation showed that the substance seized was indeed methampetamine
hydrochloride or shabu weighing 299.5 grams.[19]
SPO1 Crisostilado Alfaro took the witness stand as the prosecutions second witness
and testified that he was assigned at the police station of Noveleta, particularly in the
Intelligence and Operation Division. On the evening of October 26, 1992, he went to
the Villamar Beach Resort in San Rafael IV, Noveleta, Cavite along with Police Officer
Tendero, SPO1 Vedar, SPO2 Encarnacion, SPO2 Lontoc and SPO3 Benavise upon the
instructions of Police Officer Cuevas as relayed by a tricycle driver.[20]
Upon arrival at the resort, Police Officers Cuevas and Tendero conferred with each
other. Then, Tendero spoke to the caretaker of the resort and instructed him not to
panic and to act normally.[21] The police officers, then, carefully hid their vehicles so as
not to alarm the offenders of their presence in the area.[22]
For a long time, the police officers watched the cottage. They were anticipating the
arrival of drug buyers as Danilo de Guzman was a suspected drug-pusher.[23] Night
passed but still nobody came.
In the morning of October 27, Police Officer Tendero knocked at the offenders
cottage and informed them that their car had a flat tire. De Guzman, however, did not
open the door; instead he answered him not to mind the flat tire.[24] Hence, Police
Tendero coaxed the resorts chambermaid to knock at the perpetrators cottage and
inquire whether they were checking out of the resort.[25]
A few seconds after the chambermaid went down from the cottage, accused-
appellant De Guzman followed. Police Officer Tendero, then grabbed him at the waist
and instructed police officer Vedar to get the gun from the waist.[26]
Police Officer Tendero, then, went up the cottage with the witness closely following
him. Upon entering the room, the witness saw shabu and drug paraphernalia on top of
the table. Tendero, on the other hand, struggled with Edsel Martin who tried to grab a
gun.[27] Police Officer Tendero took pictures of the items found inside the cottage and
brought the same to the police station.
The prosecutions last witness was SPO2 Joselito Vedar. He recounted that on
October 26, 1992, word from Police Officer Arnel Cuevas reached their office that
Danilo de Guzman and a companion arrived at Villamar Beach Resort in separate
cars. The two checked in at the resort and occupied Veranda A.[28] Police Officer then
organized a team which shall proceed to the said resort.
Upon reaching the resort, Tendero talked with Cuevas. Tendero, thereafter,
instructed the witness and his companions to conceal their vehicles and to hide
themselves in strategic locations.[29] The team of police officers waited during the whole
night for would-be buyers of De Guzman.Finally, at 8:00 a.m. the next day, Tendero
went up the cottage and knocked at the offenders door. He informed them that their
vehicle had a flat tire.The occupants of the cottage, however, told him not to mind it.[30]
Tendero instructed Sheila, the resort chambermaid, to inquire from the occupants
of the cottage whether they were checking out that day or whether they were staying
for the night. When Sheila came down, he told Tendero that De Guzman was checking
out that day. In a while, De Guzman, likewise, came down.[31]
Immediately, Tendero grabbed him and told the witness to get the gun from De
Guzman. The gun was a 7.65 millimeter with four (4) live bullets and one (1)
magazine.[32] As soon as the witness held De Guzman, Tendero rushed
upstairs.[33] Police officers Alfaro, Benavise and Cuevas, along with the resort
chambermaid and another worker, likewise went up the cottage. When the witness
joined his companions in the cottage, he saw shabu and other drug paraphernalia.[34]
The police officers verified the ownership of the seized gun with the Firearm and
Explosive Division of Camp Crame. The said office certified on November 5, 1992 that
Danilo de Guzman y Perez of 817 Romualdo St., Caridad, Cavite City was not a licensed
or registered firearm holder of any kind and caliber and that the pistol caliber 7.65
Walther PPK with serial number 527353 was not registered with it.[35]
Accused-appellant Danilo de Guzman claimed that on October 26, 1992, he met his
childhood friend Edsel Martin at the gasoline station so they decided to dine at the
Rojona Restaurant.[36] Unfortunately, the car he was driving broke down[37]so Martin
towed De Guzmans vehicle with his car.Martin led them to Villamar Beach Resort where
they spent the night for it was dangerous to stay in the streets.[38]
At around 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. the next day, a person knocked at the door informing
him that his car had a flat tire[39] He then went down to check on the alleged flat tire
and proceeded to look for a mechanic.[40] Suddenly, several armed men in civilian
clothes poked their guns at him and frisked him.[41] These men took money from his
wallet[42]and took pictures of Martin.[43] They also searched him and Martins person as
well as Martins car where they found a small gun with a magazine.[44] They brought his
car and Martins car to the police station.
On August 22, 1994, the trial court rendered a decision the dispositive portion of
which reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court finds the accused Danilo de Guzman y
Perez guilty beyond reasonable doubt of Violation of Sec. 16, Art. III, Republic Act
6425, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended, and he is
hereby sentenced to undergo life imprisonment and to pay a fine of P50,000.00,
without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency and in Crim. Case No. 40-94 for
Viol. of Sec. 1, PD 1866 (Unlawful Possession of Firearm and Ammunition), he is hereby
sentenced to undergo imprisonment of Twelve (12) years and One (1) day of reclusion
temporal, as minimum to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as maximum and to
pay the costs in both instances.
The 299.5 grams of Methamphetamine Hydrochloride commonly known as shabu is
hereby ordered confiscated in favor of the government.
SO ORDERED.[45]
The trial court based its conviction of accused-appellant on the testimonies of the
prosecution witnesses, particularly on their unequivocal statements that accused-
appellant admitted to the ownership of the drug, the paraphernalia and the gun and
ammunition.
The trial court refused to give credence to accused-appellants defense. It
considered accused-appellants acts of proceeding to a resort to spend the night
incredible as he could have had his car towed directly to his residence which is also
within the city. Furthermore, the beach resort was still a kilometer away from the place
where accused-appellants car supposedly broke down.
Accused-appellant assails his conviction and raised the following errors:[46]
I.
THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF CAVITE CITY, WITH ALL DUE
RESPECTS (sic), COMMITTED A PATENT REVERSIBLE ERROR IN RENDERING A
JUDGMENT FOR CONVICTION AGAINST HEREIN ACCUSED;
II.
THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF CAVITE CITY, WITH ALL DUE
RESPECTS (sic), COMMITTED A PATENT REVERSIBLE ERROR IN NOT FINDING
THAT THE EVIDENCE SO FAR PRESENTED WAS OBTAINED IN AN ILLEGAL
SEARCH;
III.
THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF CAVITE CITY, WITH ALL DUE
RESPECTS (sic), COMMITTED A PATENT REVERSIBLE ERROR IN REJECTING THE
VERSION OF THE DEFENSE;
IV.
THE HONORABLE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF CAVITE CITY, WITH ALL DUE
RESPECTS (sic), COMMITTED AN OBVIOUS JURISDICTIONAL ABERRATION AT
ARRIVING AT THE IMPOSABLE PENALTY.
Accused-appellant faults the prosecution for its failure to introduce the independent
testimonies of the workers at the resort, which amounts to a willful suppression of
evidence and gives rise to the presumption that the same is adverse to the prosecution
if produced, pursuant to Rule 131, Section 3(e) of the Revised Rules of Court.
The contention is without merit.
The prosecution has the prerogative to present the witnesses it needs to meet the
quantum of evidence necessary to merit the conviction of the accused.[47] Hence, the
prosecution cannot be faulted for presenting only the three (3) police officers involved
in the arrest of accused-appellant. As these officers enjoy a presumption of regularity in
the performance of official duty,[48] it was likewise error for the defense to question
their testimonies solely on the ground that they were the very officers who conducted
the arrest. Besides, the trial court had sufficient opportunity to observe the demeanor
of these witnesses and to determine the truth or falsity of their testimonies. We see no
reason, therefore, to overturn the findings of facts of the lower court.
Accused-appellant would have this Court believe that his arrest and the search
conducted incidental to his arrest were illegal as the surrounding circumstances of the
arrest were not within the purview of the allowable warrantless arrests under Rule 113,
Section 5 of the Revised Rules of Court.
A close scrutiny of the records reveals that the police officers manner of conducting
the accused-appellants arrest was not tainted with any constitutional infirmity. Despite
word from their fellow officer, SPO1 Cuevas, that he saw accused-appellant sniff shabu,
they resisted the first impulse to storm the rented cottage which could have caused
them to seriously disregard constitutional safeguards. Instead, the police officers waited
for the needed opening to validly arrest the accused. To their minds, it would be the
arrival of drug buyers. As the situation would have it, the arrest was necessitated by the
presence of accused-appellant with a gun obviously tucked in his pants. SPO1 Cuevas,
on cross-examination, testified as follows:
Q: You said you saw them sniffing shabu that night of October 26, 1992. Now, how
come being a police officer that you did not take any action right there and then
when as a matter of fact you have discovered that accused and his companion
were actually committing the alleged crime?
A: The door was closed and we could not enter.
Q: As a matter of fact, the day after when you and your police companions entered
the Veranda A after allegedly having frisked Mr. de Guzman, is it not true that
the door was also closed?
A: The day when Danilo de Guzman went out of Verenda A and we saw that a gun
was bulging on his waist, we readily grabbed him and my companion went
upstairs and the door was open.[49] (Emphasis added)
That a gun was tucked in his waist is very obvious to the arresting officers as the
accused-appellant was wearing tight-fitting clothes.
Q: Mr. Witness, you were then wearing T-shirt which fit your body, is that correct?
A: I could not remember because I usually wear fitted clothes.
Q: I am showing to you picture which include you in T-shirt which is tuck-in, will you
admit Mr. Witness that if a gun is in your waist because you were wearing a T-
shirt fitting in your body, that said gun will be bulging?
A: Yes, Maam.[50]
Rule 113, Section 5 (a) of the Rules of Court provides that:
Sec. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace officer or a private person may,
without a warrant, arrest a person:
(a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually
committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; x x x.
In this jurisdiction, the mere possession of a firearm, ammunition or machinery,
tool or instrument used or intended to be used in the manufacture of any firearm or
ammunition is a criminal offense under PD No. 1866.
Section 1. Unlawful Manufacture, Sale, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of
Firearms or Ammunition or Instruments Used or Intended to be Used in the
Manufacture of Firearm or Ammunition. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its
maximum period to reclusion perpetua shall be imposed upon any person who shall
unlawfully manufacture, deal in, acquire, dispose, or possess any firearm, part of
firearm, ammunition or machinery, tool or instrument used or intended to be used in
the manufacture of any firearm or ammunition.
In the case of People v. Quijada,[51] it was held that the gravamen of the offense of
violation of P.D. 1866 is the possession of a firearm without the necessary permit
and/or license. The crime is immediately consummated upon mere possession of
firearm devoid of legal authority, since it is assumed that the same is possessed
with animus possidendi.[52]
Similarly, in the case at bar, accused-appellant was caught by the police
officers in flagrante delicto while carrying a firearm without the necessary permit or
license. Clearly, it was in violation of P.D. No. 1866, Section 1, at the time of the arrest.
Necessarily, the search conducted immediately after the accused-appellants arrest
was valid. Rule 126, Section 12 of the Rules of Court provides:
Sec. 12. Search incident to lawful arrest. A person lawfully arrested may be searched
for dangerous weapons or anything which may be used as proof of the commission of
an offense, without a search warrant.
The legal parameters of this rule limit its application to instances when the search is
made contemporaneous to the arrest and within a permissible area of search.
In this case, it was impossible for the police officers to obtain a search warrant as
they were merely on surveillance, and to do so might abort any possible illegal activity
that was taking place. Any attempt at leaving the place may cause them to lose sight of
the accused-appellant altogether.Second, their presence in the area was not planned as
they acted purely on a tip given by a fellow officer. Further, there was not enough
opportunity to obtain a warrant of arrest or a search warrant as the surveillance was
conducted from 10:00 oclock in the evening up to 7:00 oclock in the morning.
The search conducted immediately after accused-appellant was apprehended was
made more necessary by the presence of his companion inside the cottage which was
just a few steps away from where he stood. The presence of accused-appellants
companion posed a danger to the police officers life and limb, hence, it became
necessary for them to locate him. Upon entry at the rented cottage, the police officers
saw the shabu and drug-related paraphernalia scattered on top of the table.
Jurisprudence allows the seizure of personalty despite absence of warrant under the
plain view doctrine, so long as the area of search is within the immediate control of the
arrested person and that the object of the search was open to the eye, as in the instant
case.
Furthermore, accused-appellant in this case is estopped from questioning the
legality of his arrest upon his failure to move for quashal of the information against him
prior to his arraignment and entry of plea.[53] Any irregularity was therefore cured upon
their voluntary submission to the trial courts jurisdiction.[54]
As to the illegal possession of drugs, this Court in People v. Khor[55] ruled that the
elements of illegal possession of dangerous drugs are: (1) the accused is in possession
of an item or object which is identified to be a prohibited drug; (2) such possession is
not authorized by law; and (3) the accused freely and consciously possessed the said
drug. Considering that the circumstances herein satisfy the elements of illegal
possession of drugs under Section16, Article III of RA No. 6425, the trial court was
correct in convicting accused appellant.
Finally, we resolve the issue on the propriety of the penalty imposed by the trial
court. The trial court sentenced the accused-appellant to life imprisonment for violation
of Section 16, Article III, RA No. 6425. The penalty prescribed for this violation
committed in 1992 is as follows:
Sec. 16. Possession or Use of Regulated Drugs. The penalty of imprisonment ranging
from six years and one day to twelve years and a fine ranging from six thousand to
twelve thousand pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall possess or use any
regulated drug without the corresponding license or prescription.
Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law in Criminal Case No. 39-94, accused-
appellant should be sentenced to an indeterminate sentence, the maximum of which
shall not exceed the maximum fixed by the law and the minimum shall not be less than
the minimum term prescribed by the same, i.e., six years (6) and one (1) day to twelve
(12) years.[56]
On the other hand, in Criminal Case No. 40-94, the penalty prescribed for illegal
possession of firearm at the time of commission of the offense in this case
was reclusion temporal in its maximum period to reclusion perpetua, the same to be
imposed in its medium period in the absence of aggravating or mitigating
circumstances. The penalty next lower in degree is prision mayor in its maximum period
to reclusion temporal in its medium period. The trial court did not err in imposing on
accused-appellant the indeterminate penalty of twelve (12) years and one (1) day
of reclusion temporal, as minimum, to twenty (20) years of reclusion temporal, as
maximum.
WHEREFORE, based on the foregoing, the decision of the Regional Trial Court,
Cavite City, Branch 17, in Criminal Case No. 39-94, is AFFIRMED with the
MODIFICATION that accused-appellant Danilo de Guzman y Perez is sentenced to suffer
imprisonment for six (6) years and one (1) day, as minimum, to twelve (12) years, as
maximum, and to pay a fine of Twelve Thousand Pesos (P12,000.00).
In Criminal Case No. 40-94, the decision of the trial court finding accused-appellant
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of illegal possession of firearm and
ammunition, and sentencing him to suffer the indeterminate penalty of twelve (12)
years and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as minimum, to twenty (20) years
of reclusion temporal, as maximum, is AFFIRMED in toto.
SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 107741. October 18, 1996]


FRANCISCO BERNARTE, BENEDICTO DANAN, BIENVENIDO BELLEZA,
ROBERTO MALLARI, FELICIANO MALLARI, PESCASIO DIMARUCUT,
REYNALDO TIMBANG, ALFREDO SANTOS, FEDERICO SANTOS,
LAMBERTO DANAN, JESUS CASTRO, VICTORIANO TALA, MARIANO
SANTOS, IGNACIO CASTRO DE LA CRUZ, WILFREDO TAPALLA,
REYNALDO OSBUAL, ANTONIO SANTOS, TEOFILO MUNOZ, MANUEL
NAGUIAT, FELICISIMO MACASPAC, ROMAN BERNAL, JR., FAUSTINO
PANGAN, FRANCISCO MACASPAC, CARLITO AGUILUZ, FIDEL CASTRO,
SALVADOR TALA, ROMEO TALA, LUCIANO MANLAPAZ, TOMAS PAULE,
DANNY MANUEL, BENIGNO PORTALES, CONRADO MALLARI, MARTA
DANAN, REGINA TIMBANG, CONCHITA VISDA, AMELIA ALFARO,
VIOLETA ALFARO, CONCHITA MALIT, SEVERINA RIVERA, FLORENCIA
PAULE, ROSITA BERNAL, GLORIA MALLARI, LILIA SERRANO, NORMA
CABUAN-BAUTISTA and ANITA MANGANTI, petitioners, vs. THE COURT
OF APPEALS, The Hon. CARLOS BARTOLO, Municipal Judge of the
Municipal Trial Court of Lubao, Pampanga, THE PROVINCIAL WARDEN
OF THE PROVINCE OF PAMPANGA, MAJOR JESUS MANINANG (PNP),
SPO3 CARLOS GUINTO (PNP), SPO1 JESUS KABILING (PNP), SPO4
EDGARDO LALIC (PNP) & SPO4 DOMINADOR LACANLALE (PNP) and
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 50, GUAGUA,
PAMPANGA, respondents.
DECISION
ROMERO, J.:
This is a petition for review of the decision[1] dated November 19, 1992 of the Court
of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 29284 dismissing for lack of merit the petition for habeas
corpus of petitioners.
The records show that on October 5, 1989, Estrella Arastia, in her own behalf and
as attorney-in-fact of the heirs of Teodorica Reinares Arastia, Letecia Arastia-
Montenegro and Juanita Arastia, filed a complaint for violation of Section 73 (b) of
Republic Act No. 6657 (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988) before the
Regional Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, Branch 48 in its capacity as a Special
Agrarian Court.
Docketed as Agrarian Case No. 2000, the complaint[2] alleged that after the EDSA
Revolution, herein petitioners, who organized themselves into the Anibang Manggagawa
sa Agricultura (A.M.A.), illegally intruded into the land located at Lubao, Pampanga
(with an aggregate area of around 210 hectares) of the plaintiffs, burned the existing
sugarcane plants and started to cultivate small portions thereof. As a result, the land
was abandoned by Rustico Coronal, the civil lessee, and taken over by plaintiff-
owners. Alleging further that there had been definite findings and rulings by the
Department of Agrarian Reform that no tenancy relationship existed between the
parties, petitioners herein continued to forcibly enter, intrude into and molest the
possession of the plaintiffs over the land in question in violation of Section 73 (b) of
Republic Act No. 6657. The complaint prayed for the issuance of a temporary
restraining order to enjoin petitioners from entering into the land and intruding in the
possession thereof and, after hearing, the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction
which should be made permanent after a full-blown trial.
In their answer,[3] petitioners averred that they had been in continuous and
peaceful possession of their respective tillages since 1950 when the late Teodorica
Arastia was still the administratix of the landholding in question. They moved for the
dismissal of the complaint on the ground that the trial court had no jurisdiction as it
was the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), through the Department of Agrarian
Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB), pursuant to Section 50 of Republic Act No. 6657,
that had jurisdiction over the case. Moreover, petitioners asserted that due to the
malicious and evil intentions of plaintiffs in harassing and ejecting them from the land,
they suffered actual, as well as moral damages, for their failure to harvest their
standing crops.
Inasmuch as the complaint was very specific as regards petitioners commission of
acts prohibited by Section 73 (b) of Republic Act No. 6657 and pursuant to Section 57
thereof,[4] the lower court denied the motion to dismiss on November 2, 1989. It issued
a writ of preliminary injunction ordering petitioners and/or any other person acting in
their command and/or their behalf to desist and refrain from occupying their respective
portions they are allegedly cultivating pending the termination of this litigation, and/or
unless a contrary order is issued by this Court.[5]
Petitioners' motion for reconsideration praying that the writ of preliminary injunction
be set aside and that the case be dismissed for lack of merit was denied by the lower
court on April 25, 1990. It reiterated the writ of preliminary injunction in the Order
of July 31, 1991which deputized members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) based
in Lubao and Guagua, Pampanga, to enforce the said writ. On April 23, 1992, the
complaint was amended to reflect the names of the John Does originally impleaded
therein and who had been identified.
Subsequently, on July 17, 1991, petitioners filed before this court a petition
for certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 100663 and entitled Jesus Bernal, et al. v. Estrella
Arastia, et al., assailing the jurisdiction of the lower court over Agrarian Case No.
2000. On July 31, 1991, this Court dismissed the petition for failure to comply with
Circular No. 1-88, specifically No. 4 thereof, requiring a verified statement of the date
when notice of the judgment, order or resolution subject of the petition was received,
when a motion for reconsideration was filed and when notice of the denial thereof was
received.[6]
Meanwhile, on November 29, 1989, petitioners filed before the DARAB a
complaint[7] against Estrella Arastia. Docketed as DARAB Case No. 161-P89, the
complaint alleged that on September 25, 1989, through the use and employ of armed
men, Estrella Arastia forcibly evicted and drove them out of their landholdings,
harvested and appropriated their standing rice crops, destroyed their vegetable crops,
took their deep well and set fire on their houses. As a consequence thereof, they
suffered damages in the total amount of P3,300,000.00 for which Estrella Arastia should
be held liable. They prayed for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction or
restraining order to enjoin defendant therein from preventing their re-entry and re-
occupation of the landholdings pending the resolution of the case.
Pursuant to Section 19 of Executive Order No. 229 and Section 47 of Republic Act
No. 6657, the case was referred to the Barangay Agrarian Reform Committee (BARC) of
barangays San Isidro, Santiago, San Rafael and Lourdes in Lubao, Pampanga for fact-
finding and exploration of the possibility of an amicable settlement. After conducting the
necessary proceedings, the BARCs found that petitioners had been in possession and
cultivation of their respective farmholdings. This fact was contained in the report
dated May 23, 1988 of Mr. Vicente Jimenez, CARPO/Officer-in-Charge, Provincial Office
of Pampanga, to the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform which was
transmitted to the DARAB on September 18, 1989.
However, despite receipt of summons and the DARAB orders of June 5,
1990, September 19, 1990 and October 5, 1990, Estrella Arastia did not file an answer
nor comply with said orders. DARAB construed this as her waiver and affirmation of
what had been submitted by petitioners, and that she had no evidence to submit for its
consideration.
On December 7, 1990, based on the findings of the BARCs, the DARAB issued an
order[8] declaring the 300-hectare land as within the coverage of the Comprehensive
Agrarian Reform Law of 1988; maintaining petitioners possession and cultivation of
their respective landholdings from where they were forcibly ejected on September 29,
1989 and restraining the respondent or any other persons acting in her behalf from
entering, intruding, and disturbing the farming activities of the said petitioners in their
respective farmholdings; directing the MARO of Lubao, Pampanga and the DAR
employees concerned to process and take appropriate action on the petition for
coverage under Republic Act 6657 of their respective farmholdings in accordance with
the rules and regulations of the DAR, and dismissing for lack of merit the claims for
damages.[9]
The petitioners, having filed a bond in the amount of five hundred thousand pesos
(P500,000.00), on September 29, 1992, the DARAB issued the writ of preliminary
injunction[10] they had prayed for. Consequently, with the assistance of two (2) police
officers assigned by the Chief of Police of Lubao, Sheriff Josesito B. Dollente served the
writ on September 30, 1992, in the presence of some barangay officials and the
CAFGU-CVO in charge. Since Estrella Arastia was not in her provincial address, a certain
Primitivo Maninang received the writ for her.
On October 7, 1992, on the strength of the said writ of preliminary injunction in
DARAB Case No. 161-89, petitioners resumed occupation and cultivation of the subject
land. Such actions resulted in the dispatch of several policemen to the area. They
reminded petitioners of the writ of preliminary injunction issued earlier in Agrarian Case
No. 2000 and ordered them to leave the land in dispute.Upon their refusal to leave, the
policemen arrested them and subsequently charged them with resistance and/or
disobedience to the lawful order of persons in authority before the Municipal Trial Court
of Lubao. On the same day, however, they were released from police custody on the
recognizance of Atty. Zenaida Ducut.
Insisting on their right to work on the land in accordance with the writ issued in
DARAB Case No. 161-89, the following day, October 8, 1992, petitioners again entered
the land. Without a warrant of arrest, herein respondent police officers named Jesus
Maninang, Carlos Guinto, Jesus Kabiling, Edgardo Lalic and Dominador Lacanlale
arrested petitioners for having entered the landholding and for resisting and
intimidating said police officers. Recovered from petitioners possession were seven (7)
assorted bolos used in cultivating the land.[11]
Petitioners were detained at the municipal jail of Lubao, Pampanga on October 8,
1992. On even date, they were charged with direct assault upon agents of a person in
authority under Criminal Case No. 5999.
On October 14, 1992, the said municipal court ordered the transfer of petitioners to
the provincial jail in San Fernando, Pampanga on the ground that the case fell within
the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court and the fact that petitioners, having refused
to receive copy of the complaint and the affidavits of the complainants, did not "intend
to file counter-affidavit. On October 16, 1992, the municipal court also ordered that the
records of the case be forwarded to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor in San
Fernando, Pampanga for appropriate action. On October 21, 1992, the Provincial
Prosecutor filed an information for direct assault upon an agent of a person in authority
which was docketed as Criminal Case No. 3171 before the Regional Trial Court of
Guagua, Pampanga. Arraignment was set for December 1, 1992 at 9:00 oclock in the
morning.
After the filing of the information for direct assault or on October 23, 1992,
petitioners filed before this Court a petition for habeas corpus under G.R. No. 107399
questioning the legality of their arrest and detention. On October 28, 1992, this Court
issued the writ returnable to the Acting Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals. The
return of the writ was filed on November 9, 1992. In due course, on November 19,
1992, the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for lack of merit in the herein
questioned Decision which held in part as follows:
The petitioners claim that they were exercising their rights when they were working and
farming on the said land pursuant to the preliminary injunction issued in DARAB Case
No. 161-P89, and that the preliminary injunction issued by the RTC being enforced by
the respondent PNP Team is unlawful for said RTC, Br. 48, San Fernando, Pampanga
has no jurisdiction over Agrarian Case No. 2000, deserves scant consideration. As
brought out by respondents and verified from the records of the Supreme Court, the
petitioners had filed therewith a certiorari petition entitled Jesus Bernal, et al. v. Hon.
Eli G.C. Natividad, et al. (G.R. No. 100663) questioning the said Regional Trial Courts
jurisdiction to issue the writ of preliminary injunction in Agrarian Case No. 2000. Said
petition in G.R. No. 100663 was dismissed for non-compliance with Supreme Court
Circular No. 1-88.Entry of final judgment thereon was made by the Supreme Court on
October 10, 1991.
As matter (sic) now stands, the said RTC, Branch 48, San Fernando, Pampanga, has not
been declared as without jurisdiction over Agrarian Case No. 2000 and therefore, the
said writ of preliminary injunction it issued is in order.
In fine, since at the time the petitioners were arrested, the PNP team was enforcing a
lawful order of the same RTC and in seriously resisting the same the appellants
intimidated the PNP team committing the alleged crime of Direct Assault Upon An Agent
of A Person In Authority, a warrant was not necessary for their arrest, as provided in
Sec. 5(a), Rule 113, Rules on Criminal Procedure, to wit:
SEC. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. A peace officer or private person may
without a warrant, arrest a person;
(a) When an offense has in fact just been committed, and he has personal knowledge
of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has committed it;
In the light of the foregoing, the issue regarding the validity of four warrants of arrest
issued against the petitioners need not be taken up.
Let it also be stated that there is no explicit rule requiring a judge, after an accused has
been arrested without a warrant for an offense cognizable by the regional trial court
and later charged in a complaint or information conformably with the provisions of Rule
112, Section 7 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure to still issue a warrant of arrest
or order of commitment for the said accused (Re: Petition for Habeas Corpus of Gloria
Jopson Asuncion [G.R. L-No. 84907, Minute Resolution, First Division, November 3,
1988]). As explained by the Supreme Court, such rule is not provided since the accused
is already under detention so that the issuance of a warrant for his arrest or an order
for his commitment would be an absolute superfluity, considering that the need of a
warant of arrest arises only when the accused is at large as under Rule 113, Section 1
of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure means the taking of a person in custody in
order that he may be bound to answer for the commission of an offense, and that the
obvious purpose of the warrant is for the court to acquire jurisdiction over the person of
the accused (Re: Petition of Habeas Corpus of Gloria Jopson Asuncion , supra).
Petitioners received a copy of said Decision on November 20, 1992, a Friday. On
November 23, 1992, they filed in this Court a motion for an extension of two (2) days
within which to file a petition for review on certiorari. They followed the motion with
another requesting an additional two (2) days within which to file said petition. They
eventually filed the instant petition on November 27, 1992.
On December 22 and 29, 1992 and January 21, 1993, thirty (30) of the forty-five
(45) petitioners posted bail in Criminal Case No. 5999 for direct assault.[12] As of may
18, 1993, only three (3) remained detained at the provincial jail.[13] In their
Memorandum which was received by the Court on May 17, 1995, petitioners furnished
the information that most if not all of the petitioners were already released on bail and
therefore cannot avail of the writ of habeas corpus for being moot and
academic.[14] And yet, invoking Soriano v. Heirs of Domingo Magali (sic),[15] Malabanan
v. Hon. Ramento[16] and Salonga v. Pano[17] where the Court considered the issues
raised notwithstanding that certain events had supervened to render the case moot and
academic, petitioners insist that dismissal of the case on such ground should not bar
the resolution of this case on the merits.
The writ of habeas corpus under Rule 102 of the Rules of Court extends to all cases
of illegal confinement or detention by which any person is deprived of his liberty , or by
which the rightful custody of any person is withheld from the person entitled
thereto. The function of the special proceeding of habeas corpus is to inquire into the
legality of ones detention.[18] In all petitions for habeas corpus, the court must inquire
into every phase and aspect of petitioners detention from the moment petitioner was
taken into custody up to the moment the court passes upon the merits of the petition
and only after such a scrutiny can the court satisfy itself that the due process clause of
our Constitution has been satisfied.[19]
However, once the person detained is duly charged in court, he may no longer
question his detention by a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. His
remedy then is the quashal of the information and/or the warrant of arrest duly
issued.[20] The reason for the issuance of the writ even becomes more unavailing when
the person detained files a bond for his temporary release. Thus, in Velasco v. Court of
Appeals,[21] the Court said:
Even if the arrest of a person is illegal, supervening events may bar his release or
discharge from custody. What is to be inquired into is the legality of his detention as of,
at the earliest, the filing of the application for a writ of habeas corpus, for even if the
detention is at its inception illegal, it may, by reason of some supervening events, such
as the instances mentioned in Section 4 of the Rule 102, be no longer illegal at the time
of the filing of the application. Among such supervening events is the issuance of
judicial process preventing the discharge of the detained person. . . . . Another is the
filing of a complaint or information for the offense for which the accused is detained, as
in the instant case. By then, the restraint of liberty is already by virtue of the complaint
or information and, therefore, the writ of habeas corpus is no longer available. Section
4 of Rule 102 reads in part as follows; Nor shall anything in this rule be held to
authorize the discharge of a person charged with . . . an offense in the Philippines.
x x x x x x x x x.
It may also be said that by filing his motion for bail, Larkins admitted that he was under
the custody of the court and voluntarily submitted his person to its
jurisdiction. In De Asis vs. Romero (41 SCRA 235, 240 [1971]), this Court stated:
De Asis could have, right after his arrest, objected to the regularity of the issuance of
the warrant of arrest in
question. Instead he not only filed apetition for bail with the lower
court, thereby accepting the courts jurisdiction over his person, but he also pleaded, on
arraignment, to the information filed against him. (emphasis supplied)
The filing of a petition or motion for bail in cases where no bail is recommended has the
same legal import and effect as the posting of bail in cases where bail is
recommended. It is settled that the giving or posting of bail by the accused is
tantamount to submission of his person to the jurisdiction of the court.
The instant petition for habeas corpus has thus been rendered moot and academic
by the filing against petitioners of charges for direct assault on October 8, 1992 before
the Municipal Trial Court of Lubao which, on being forwarded to the Regional Trial
Court of Pampanga upon the filing of an information for direct assault on October 21,
1992 became Criminal Case No. 3171, even before the filing of the petition for habeas
corpus docketed as G.R. No. 107399. Their subsequent filing of bailbonds to secure
their provisional liberty sealed the mootness of the instant petition.
As stated above, under the circumstance, petitioners remedy would have been the
quashal of the information in case they have valid reason therefor. In any event, the
Court shall consider the principal issues raised in the instant petition for habeas
corpus in the interest of justice and if only to clarify certain procedural misconceptions
which appear to confuse petitioners and their counsel.[22]
Petitioners posits the view that resolution of the instant petition for habeas
corpus is interrelated with the issue as to which of the two writs of preliminary
injunction affecting them should prevail. They contend that the writ of preliminary
injunction issued by the DARAB, not that earlier issued by the Regional Trial Court in
Agrarian Case No. 2000, is the valid one because the regular court had no jurisdiction
over said agrarian case. Therefore, petitioners aver, the invalidity of the writ being
enforced by police authorities could only result in the invalidity of their arrest. They
further assert that, even if their petition in G.R. No. 100663 questioning the validity of
the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction in Agrarian Case No. 2000 was
dismissed, such dismissal on a formal technicality does not amount to rendering as valid
the otherwise void writ of preliminary injunction issued in said case.[23]
The petition in G.R. No. 100663 was dismissed for noncompliance with Circular
No. I-88. Contrary to petitioners contention, however, such a dismissal through a
minute resolution was one on the merits of the petition. Thus, where a first petition
for certiorariwas dismissed for noncompliance with paragraph 4 of Circular No. I-88 and
another petition, complying with said circular and basically reiterating the same issues
raised in the first petition was filed a year later, the Court dismissed the second petition
and severely censured counsel for petitioner for refiling the same petition. In a
Resolution, the Court stated as follows:
. . . (I)t is equally axiomatic that minute resolutions of this Court, denying due course to
petitions, or dismissing cases summarily -- for failure to comply with the formal or
substantial requirements laid down therefor by the law -- are actually dispositions on
the merits (SEE Smith Bell & Co. V. Court of Appeals, 197 Phil. 201 [1991] citing:
Policarpio v. PVB, 106 Phil. 125; Commercial Union v. Lepanto, 86 SCRA 79, Novino v.
Court of Appeals, 83 SCRA 279), constituting res jusdicata.[24] (Underscoring supplied)
Hence, even though the Court did not explicitly resolve G.R. No. 100663 on the
merits, its dismissal on the ground of noncompliance with Circular No. I-88 had the
effect of resolving the issues raised therein. While it may be argued that said circular is
merely a remedial measure which should not unduly affect the substantive aspects of a
case, its force and effect must at all times be upheld for, after all, it was designed for
the orderly administration of justice.
As regards the issue of jurisdiction over the dispute between them and the Arastias,
petitioners should be reminded that the allegation in a complaint are determinative
factors of said issue. On this matter, the Court declared:
Jurisdiction over the subject-matter is determined upon the allegations made in the
complaint, irrespective of whether the plaintiff is entitled or not entitled to recover upon
the claim asserted therein a matter resolved only after and as a result of the
trial. Neither can the jurisdiction of the court be made to depend upon the defenses
made by the defendant in his answer or motion to dismiss. If such were the rule, the
question of jurisdiction would depend almost entirely upon the defendant.[25]
In her complaint in Agrarian Case No. 2000, Estrella Arastia alleged that she and
the rest of the plaintiffs therein were the registered owners of the parcels of land in
question which herein petitioners illegally intruded into, damaged and cultivated under
the status of holding actual title over the properties; that the definite findings and
rulings of the DAR showed that no tenancy relationship existed between the parties and
that petitioners were definitely not qualified beneficiaries of the rights and benefits
under Republic Act No. 6657 as they were not in any way tenants and/or legitimate
tillers of the subject land, and that the acts of petitioners violated Section 73 (b) of said
law.
Petitioners raising the issue of jurisdiction in their answer to the complaint did not
automatically divest the lower court of jurisdiction over Agrarian Case No. 2000. The
court had to continue exercising authority to hear the evidence for the purpose of
determining whether or not it had jurisdiction over the case. In a plethora of cases, this
Court has made the pronouncement that once jurisdiction is vested, the same is
retained up to the end of the litigation.[26] After such hearing, if tenancy had in fact
been shown to be the real issue, then the court should dismiss the case for lack of
jurisdiction.[27]
It should be pointed out, moreover, that in filing Agrarian Case No. 2000, Estrella
Arastia was merely ejecting petitioners from the land on the ground that no tenancy
relationship existed between them. However, her invocation of Sec. 73 (b) of Republic
Act No. 6657 which considers as a prohibited act forcible entry or illegal detainer by
persons who are not qualified beneficiaries under this Act to avail themselves of the
rights and benefits of the Agrarian Reform Program, obviously led the court to docket
the case as Agrarian Case No. 2000 and assume jurisdiction over it as a special
agrarian court.[28]
Such actions were in consonance with Sections 56[29] and 57 of said law which at
vest upon the Regional Trial Court, acting as a Special Agrarian Court, with jurisdiction
over two classes of agrarian-related cases: (1) petitions for the determination of just
compensation to landowners and (2) prosecution of all criminal offenses under the
same law. A criminal offender under Republic Act No. 6657 is, pursuant to Section 74 of
the law, (a)ny person who knowingly and willfully violates the provisions of this
Act.[30] Thus, the lower court correctly assumed jurisdiction over Agrarian Case No.
2000.
It was within petitioners rights to question the issuance of the writ before this Court
through G.R. No. 100663. However, in filing the petition, they failed to comply with
Circular No. 1-88. The consequent dismissal of the case for noncompliance with said
circular deprived this Court with authority to look into the validity of the writ once
again. To repeat, such dismissal constituted res judicata on the issue of validity of the
writ of preliminary injunction.
Consequently, petitioners are treading on shaky ground in questioning the legality
of their arrest in this petition for habeas corpus for the reason that the police officers
were enforcing a writ of preliminary injunction illegally issued in Agrarian Case No. 2000
and, in the same breath, allege that they could use force or legally resist and even
intimidate another, be he a private individual or an agent of a person in authority, who
interferes with the legitimate exercise of (his) rights[31] as possessors and cultivators of
the Arastia property.
If indeed petitioners are tenants of the Arastias under the law,[32] they are not
without other legal recourse. Certainly, through their counsel, who appear to be zealous
in protecting whatever rights petitioners believe they may have, they should pursue
DARAB Case No. 161-P89 and whatever actions are available for them under the
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988.
Although it is well-accepted that a court should always strive to settle the
controversy in a single proceeding, leaving no root or branch to bear the seeds of
future litigation,[33] this rule cannot apply if the result would negate the rational
application of the Rules of Court. Petitioners may not engage in procedural shortcuts to
revive the settled issue of the validity of the writ of preliminary injunction issued in
Agrarian Case No. 2000 allegedly on the ground of the existence of a tenancy
relationship between the parties in the instant petition for habeas corpus arising from
their arrest for having assaulted persons in authority.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition for review on certiorari is hereby DENIED. No
cost.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 82544 June 28, 1988


IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS OF: ANDREW
HARVEY, JOHN SHERMAN and ADRIAAN VAN DEL ELSHOUT, petitioners,
vs.
HONORABLE COMMISSIONER MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, COMMISSION
ON IMMIGRATION AND DEPORTATION, respondent.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
A petition for Habeas Corpus.
Petitioners Andrew Harvey and John Sherman, 52 and 72 years, respectively, are both
American nationals residing at Pagsanjan, Laguna, while Adriaan Van Elshout, 58 years
old, is a Dutch citizen also residing at Pagsanjan, Laguna.
The case stems from the apprehension of petitioners on 27 February 1988 from their
respective residences by agents of the Commission on Immigration and Deportation
(CID) by virtue of Mission Orders issued by respondent Commissioner Miriam Defensor
Santiago of the CID. Petitioners are presently detained at the CID Detention Center.
Petitioners were among the twenty-two (22) suspected alien pedophiles who were
apprehended after three months of close surveillance by CID agents in Pagsanjan,
Laguna. Two (2) days after apprehension, or on 29 February 1988, seventeen (17) of
the twenty-two (22) arrested aliens opted for self-deportation and have left the
country. One was released for lack of evidence; another was charged not for being a
pedophile but for working without a valid working visa. Thus, of the original twenty two
(22), only the three petitioners have chosen to face deportation.
Seized during petitioners apprehension were rolls of photo negatives and photos of the
suspected child prostitutes shown in salacious poses as well as boys and girls engaged
in the sex act. There were also posters and other literature advertising the child
prostitutes.
The "Operation Report," on Andrew Harvey and Richard Sherman dated 29 February
1988 stated:
xxx xxx xxx
ANDREW MARK HARVEY was found together with two young boys.
RICHARD SHERMAN was found with two naked boys inside his room.
In respect of Van Den Elshout the "After Mission Report," dated 27 February 1988 read
in part:
Noted:
There were two (2) children ages 14 & 16 which subject
readily accepted having been in his care and live-in for quite
sometime.
On 4 March 1988, deportation proceedings were instituted against petitioners for being
undesirable aliens under Section 69 of the Revised Administrative Code (Deportation
Case No. 88-13). The "Charge Sheet" read inter alia:
Wherefore, this Office charges the respondents for deportation, as
undesirable aliens, in that: they, being pedophiles, are inimical to public
morals, public health and public safety as provided in Section 69 of the
Revised Administrative Code.
On 7 March 1988, Warrants of Arrest were issued by respondent against petitioners for
violation of Sections 37, 45 and 46 of the Immigration Act and Section 69 of the
Revised Administrative Code On the same date, the Board of Special Inquiry III
commenced trial against petitioners.
On 14 March 1988, petitioners filed an Urgent Petition for Release Under Bond alleging
that their health was being seriously affected by their continuous detention. Upon
recommendation of the Board of Commissioners for their provisional release,
respondent ordered the CID doctor to examine petitioners, who certified that petitioners
were healthy.
On 22 March 1988, petitioners filed a Petition for Bail which, however, respondent
denied considering the certification by the CID physician that petitioners were healthy.
To avoid congestion, respondent ordered petitioners' transfer to the CID detention cell
at Fort Bonifacio, but the transfer was deferred pending trial due to the difficulty of
transporting them to and from the CID where trial was on-going.
On 4 April 1988 petitioner Andrew Harvey filed a Manifestation/Motion stating that he
had "finally agreed to a self-deportation" and praying that he be "provisionally released
for at least 15 days and placed under the custody of Atty. Asinas before he voluntarily
departs the country." On 7 April 1988, the Board of Special Inquiry — III allowed
provisional release of five (5) days only under certain conditions. However, it appears
that on the same date that the aforesaid Manifestation/ Motion was filed, Harvey and
his co-petitioners had already filed the present petition.
On 4 April 1988, as heretofore stated, petitioners availed of this Petition for a Writ of
Habeas Corpus. A Return of the Writ was filed by the Solicitor General and the Court
heard the case on oral argument on 20 April 1988. A Traverse to the Writ was
presented by petitioners to which a Reply was filed by the Solicitor General.
Petitioners question the validity of their detention on the following grounds:
1) There is no provision in the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 nor under Section 69
of the Revised Administrative Code, which legally clothes the Commissioner with any
authority to arrest and detain petitioners pending determination of the existence of a
probable cause leading to an administrative investigation.
2) Respondent violated Section 2, Article III of the 1987 Constitution prohibiting
unreasonable searches and seizures since the CID agents were not clothed with valid
Warrants of arrest, search and seizure as required by the said provision.
3) Mere confidential information made to the CID agents and their suspicion of the
activities of petitioners that they are pedophiles, coupled with their association with
other suspected pedophiles, are not valid legal grounds for their arrest and detention
unless they are caught in the act. They further allege that being a pedophile is not
punishable by any Philippine Law nor is it a crime to be a pedophile.
We reject petitioners' contentions and uphold respondent's official acts ably defended
by the Solicitor General.
There can be no question that the right against unreasonable searches and seizures
guaranteed by Article III, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, is available to all persons,
including aliens, whether accused of crime or not (Moncado vs. People's Court, 80 Phil.
1 [1948]. One of the constitutional requirements of a valid search warrant or warrant of
arrest is that it must be based upon probable cause. Probable cause has been defined
as referring to "such facts and circumstances antecedent to the issuance of the warrant
that in themselves are sufficient to induce a cautious man to rely on them and act in
pursuance thereof." (People vs. Syjuco 64 Phil. 667 [1937]; Alverez vs. CFI, 64 Phil. 33
[1937]).
The 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure also provide that an arrest wit a warrant may be
effected by a peace officer or even a private person (1) when such person has
committed, actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense in his presence;
and (2) when an offense has, in fact, been committed and he has personal knowledge
of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has committed it (Rule 113, Section
5).
In this case, the arrest of petitioners was based on probable cause determined after
close surveillance for three (3) months during which period their activities were
monitored. The existence of probable cause justified the arrest and the seizure of the
photo negatives, photographs and posters without warrant (See Papa vs. Mago, L-
27360, February 28, 1968,22 SCRA 857; People vs. Court of First Instance of Rizal, L-
41686, November 17, 1980, 101 SCRA 86, cited in CRUZ, Constitutional Law, 1987 ed.,
p. 143). Those articles were seized as an incident to a lawful arrest and, are therefore,
admissible in evidence (Section 12, Rule 126,1985 Rules on criminal Procedure).
But even assuming arguendo that the arrest of petitioners was not valid at its inception,
the records show that formal deportation charges have been filed against them, as
undesirable aliens, on 4 March 1988. Warrants of arrest were issued against them on 7
March 1988 "for violation of Section 37, 45 and 46 of the Immigration Act and Section
69 of the Administrative Code." A hearing is presently being conducted by a Board of
Special Inquiry. The restraint against their persons, therefore, has become legal. The
Writ has served its purpose. The process of the law is being followed (Cruz vs.
Montoya, L-39823, February 25, 1975, 62 SCRA 543). "were a person's detention was
later made by virtue of a judicial order in relation to criminal cases subsequently filed
against the detainee, his petition for hebeas corpus becomes moot and academic"
(Beltran vs. Garcia, L-49014, April 30, 1979, 89 SCRA 717). "It is a fumdamental rule
that a writ of habeas corpus will not be granted when the confinement is or has
become legal, although such confinement was illegal at the beginning" (Matsura vs.
Director of Prisons, 77 Phil. 1050 [1947]).
That petitioners were not "caught in the act" does not make their arrest illegal.
Petitioners were found with young boys in their respective rooms, the ones with John
Sherman being naked. Under those circumstances the CID agents had reasonable
grounds to believe that petitioners had committed "pedophilia" defined as
"psychosexual perversion involving children" (Kraft-Ebbing Psychopatia Sexualis p. 555;
Paraphilia (or unusual sexual activity) in which children are the preferred sexual object"
(Webster's Third New International Dictionary, 1971 ed., p. 1665) [Solicitor General's
Return of the Writ, on p. 101. While not a crime under the Revised Penal Code, it is
behavior offensive to public morals and violative of the declared policy of the State to
promote and protect the physical, moral, spiritual, and social well-being of our youth
(Article II, Section 13, 1987 Constitution).
At any rate, the filing by petitioners of a petition to be released on bail should be
considered as a waiver of any irregularity attending their arrest and estops them from
questioning its validity (Callanta v. Villanueva, L-24646 & L-24674, June 20, 1977, 77
SCRA 377; Bagcal vs. Villaraza, L-61770, January 31, 1983, 120 SCRA 525).
The deportation charges instituted by respondent Commissioner are in accordance with
Section 37(a) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, in relation to Section 69 of the
Revised Administrative Code. Section 37(a) provides in part:
(a) The following aliens shall be arrested upon the warrant of the
Commissioner of Immigration and Deportation or any other officer
designated by him for the purpose and deported upon the warrant of the
Commissioner of Immigration and Deportation after a determination by
the Board of Commissioners of the existence of the ground for deportation
as charged against the alien;
xxx xxx xxx
The foregoing provision should be construed in its entirety in view of the summary and
indivisible nature of a deportation proceeding, otherwise, the very purpose of
deportation proceeding would be defeated.
Section 37(a) is not constitutionally proscribed (Morano vs. Vivo, L-22196, June 30,
1967, 20 SCRA 562). The specific constraints in both the 1935 1 and
1987 2 Constitutions, which are substantially Identical, contemplate prosecutions
essentially criminal in nature. Deportation proceedings, on the other hand, are
administrative in character. An order of deportation is never construed as a punishment.
It is preventive, not a penal process. It need not be conducted strictly in accordance
with ordinary Court proceedings.
It is of course well-settled that deportation proceedings do not constitute
a criminal action. The order of deportation is not a punishment, (Maliler
vs. Eby, 264 U.S., 32), it being merely the return to his country of an alien
who has broken the conditions upon which he could continue to reside
within our borders (U.S. vs. De los Santos, 33 Phil., 397). The deportation
proceedings are administrative in character, (Kessler vs. Stracker 307
U.S., 22) summary in nature, and need not be conducted strictly in
accordance with the ordinary court proceedings (Murdock vs. Clark, 53 F.
[2d], 155). It is essential, however, that the warrant of arrest shall give
the alien sufficient information about the charges against him, relating the
facts relied upon. (U.S. vs. Uhl 211 F., 628.) It is also essential that he be
given a fair hearing with the assistance of counsel, if he so desires, before
unprejudiced investigators (Strench vs. Pedaris, 55 F. [2d], 597; Ex parte
Jew You On, 16 F. [2d], 153). However, all the strict rules of evidence
governing judicial controversies do not need to be observed; only such as
are fumdamental and essential like the right of cross-examination. (U.S.
vs. Hughes, 104 F. [2d], 14; Murdock vs. Clark, 53 F. [2d], 155.) Hearsay
evidence may even be admitted, provided the alien is given the
opportunity to explain or rebut it (Morrell vs. Baker, 270 F., 577; Sercerchi
vs. Ward, 27 F. Supp., 437). (Lao Tang Bun vs. Fabre 81 Phil. 682
[1948]).
The ruling in Vivo vs. Montesa (G. R. No. 24576, July 29, 1968, 24 SCRA 155) that "the
issuance of warrants of arrest by the Commissioner of Immigration, solely for purposes
of investigation and before a final order of deportation is issued, conflicts with
paragraph 3, Section I of Article III of the Constitution" (referring to the 1935
Constitution) 3 is not invocable herein. Respondent Commissioner's Warrant of Arrest
issued on 7 March 1988 did not order petitioners to appear and show cause why they
should not be deported. They were issued specifically "for violation of Sections 37, 45
and 46 of the Immigration Act and Section 69 of the Revised Administrative Code."
Before that, deportation proceedings had been commenced against them as undesirable
aliens on 4 March 1988 and the arrest was a step preliminary to their possible
deportation.
Section 37 of the Immigration Law, which empowers the Commissioner of
Immigration to issue warrants for the arrest of overstaying aliens is
constitutional. The arrest is a stop preliminary to the deportation of the
aliens who had violated the condition of their stay in this country. (Morano
vs. Vivo, L-22196, June 30, 1967, 20 SCRA 562).
To rule otherwise would be to render the authority given the Commissioner nugatory to
the detriment of the State.
The pertinent provision of Commonwealth Act No. 613, as amended,
which gives authority to the Commissioner of Immigration to order the
arrest of an alien temporary visitor preparatory to his deportation for
failure to put up new bonds required for the stay, is not unconstitutional.
xxx xxx xxx
... Such a step is necessary to enable the Commissioner to prepare the
ground for his deportation under Section 37[al of Commonwealth Act 613.
A contrary interpretation would render such power nugatory to the
detriment of the State. (Ng Hua To vs. Galang, G. R. No. 10145, February
29, 1964, 10 SCRA 411).
"The requirement of probable cause, to be determined by a Judge, does not extend to
deportation proceedings." (Morano vs. Vivo, supra, citing Tiu Chun Hai vs.
Commissioner, infra). There need be no "truncated" recourse to both judicial and
administrative warrants in a single deportation proceedings.
The foregoing does not deviate from the ruling in Qua Chee Gan vs. Deportation
Board (G. R. No. 10280, September 30, 1963, 9 SCRA 27 [1963]) reiterated in Vivo vs.
Montesa, supra, that "under the express terms of our Constitution (the 1935
Constitution), it is therefore even doubtful whether the arrest of an individual may be
ordered by any authority other than a judge if the purpose is merely to determine the
existence of a probable cause, leading to an administrative investigation." For, as
heretofore stated, probable cause had already been shown to exist before the warrants
of arrest were issued.
What is essential is that there should be a specific charge against the alien intended to
be arrested and deported, that a fair hearing be conducted (Section 37[c]) with the
assistance of counsel, if desired, and that the charge be substantiated by competent
evidence. Thus, Section 69 of the Revised Administrative Code explicitly provides:
Sec. 69. Deportation of subject of foreign power. A subject of a foreign
power residing in the Philippines shall not be deported, expelled, or
excluded from said Islands or repatriated to his own country by the
President of the Philippines except upon prior investigation, conducted by
said Executive or his authorized agent, of the ground upon which such
action is contemplated. In such a case the person concerned shall be
informed of the charge or charges against him and he shall be allowed not
less than 3 days for the preparation of his defense. He shall also have the
right to be heard by himself or counsel, to produce witnesses in his own
behalf, and to cross-examine the opposing witnesses.
The denial by respondent Commissioner of petitioners' release on bail, also challenged
by them, was in order because in deportation proceedings, the right to bail is not a
matter of right but a matter of discretion on the part of the Commissioner of
Immigration and Deportation. Thus, Section 37(e) of the Philippine Immigration Act of
1940 provides that "any alien under arrest in a deportation proceeding may be released
under bond or under such other conditions as may be imposed by the Commissioner of
Immigration." The use of the word "may" in said provision indicates that the grant of
bail is merely permissive and not mandatory on the part of the Commissioner. The
exercise of the power is wholly discretionary (Ong Hee Sang vs. Commissioner of
Immigration, L-9700, February 28,1962, 4 SCRA 442). "Neither the Constitution nor
Section 69 of the Revised Administrative Code guarantees the right of aliens facing
deportation to provisional liberty on bail." (Tiu Chun Hai et al vs. Deportation Board,
104 Phil. 949 [1958]). As deportation proceedings do not partake of the nature of a
criminal action, the constitutional guarantee to bail may not be invoked by aliens in said
proceedings (Ong Hee Sang vs. Commissioner of Immigration, supra).
Every sovereign power has the inherent power to exclude aliens from its territory upon
such grounds as it may deem proper for its self-preservation or public interest (Lao Tan
Bun vs. Fabre 81 Phil. 682 [1948]). The power to deport aliens is an act of State, an act
done by or under the authority of the sovereign power (In re McCulloch Dick, 38 Phil.
41 [1918]). It is a police measure against undesirable aliens whose continued presence
in the country is found to be injurious to the public good and the domestic tranquility of
the people (Forbes vs. Chuoco Tiaco et al., 16 Phil. 534 [1910]). Particularly so in this
case where the State has expressly committed itself to defend the tight of children to
assistance and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation,
and other conditions prejudicial to their development (Article XV, Section 3[2]).
Respondent Commissioner of Immigration and Deportation, in instituting deportation
proceedings against petitioners, acted in the interests of the State.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is dismissed and the Writ of Habeas Corpus is hereby denied.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 109266 December 2, 1993
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, petitioner,
vs.
HON. JUSTICE FRANCIS GARCHITORENA, SANDIGANBAYAN (First Division)
and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Amado M. Santiago, Jr. for petitioner.
The Solicitor General for the People of the Philippines.

QUIASON, J.:
This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court to set aside:
(a) the Resolution dated March 3, 1993 in Criminal Case
No. 16698 of the Sandiganbayan (First Division) and to declare Presiding Justice Francis
Garchitorena of the Sandiganbayan, disqualified from acting in said criminal case; and
(b) the Resolution of said court promulgated on
March 14, 1993, which deemed as "filed" the 32 Amended Informations against
petitioner (Rollo, pp. 2-35 and pp. 36-94).
On May 1, 1991, petitioner was charged in Criminal Case No. 16698 of the
Sandiganbayan with violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, as amended, otherwise
known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, allegedly committed by her favoring
"unqualified" aliens with the benefits of the Alien Legalization Program (Rollo, p. 36).
On May 24, 1991, petitioner filed with us a petition for certiorari and prohibition,
docketed as G.R. No. 99289-99290 (Santiago v. Vasquez, 205 SCRA 162 [1992]), to
enjoin the Sandiganbayan from proceeding with Criminal Case No. 16698 on the ground
that said case was intended solely to harass her as she was then a presidential
candidate. She alleged that this was in violation of Section 10, Article IX-C of the
Constitution which provides that "(b)ona fide candidates for any public office shall be
free from any form of harassment and discrimination." The petition was dismissed on
January 13, 1992.
On October 16, 1992, petitioner filed a motion for inhibition of Presiding Justice
Garchitorena, which motion was set for hearing on November 13, 1992 at 8:00 A.M.
(Rollo, pp. 38-41).
On October 27, 1992, the Sandiganbayan (First Division), of which Presiding Justice
Garchitorena is a member, set the criminal case for arraignment on November 13, 1992
at 8:00 A.M. (Rollo, p. 42)
On November 6, 1992, petitioner moved to defer the arraignment on the grounds that
there was a pending motion for inhibition, and that petitioner intended to file a motion
for a bill of particulars (Rollo, pp. 43-44).
On November 9, 1992, the Sandiganbayan (First Division) denied the motion to defer
the arraignment (Rollo, p. 45).
On November 10, 1992, petitioner filed a motion for a bill of particulars ( Rollo, pp. 47-
48). The motion stated that while the information alleged that petitioner had approved
the application or legalization of "aliens" and gave them indirect benefits and
advantages it lacked a list of the favored aliens. According to petitioner, unless she was
furnished with the names and identities of the aliens, she could not properly plead and
prepare for trial.
On November 12, 1992 and upon motion of petitioner in G.R.
No. 107598 (Miriam Defensor Santiago v. Sandiganbayan, et al.), we directed the
Sandiganbayan (First Division) to reset the arraignment to a later date and to dispose of
the two incidents pending before it (Re: disqualification of Presiding Justice
Garchitorena and the motion for the bill of particulars).
At the hearing on November 13, 1992 on the motion for a bill of particulars, the
prosecution stated categorically that they would file only one amended information
against petitioner.
However, on December 8, 1992, the prosecution filed a motion to
admit the 32 Amended Informations (Criminal Cases Nos. 18371 to 18402; Rollo, pp.
61-126).
On March 3, 1993, Presiding Justice Garchitorena issued the questioned Resolution
dated March 11, 1993, denying the motion for his disqualification (Rollo, pp. 151-164).
On March 14, 1993, the Sandiganbayan (First Division) promulgated a resolution,
admitting the 32 Amended Informations and ordering petitioner to post the
corresponding bail bonds within ten days from notice (Rollo, pp. 165-185). Petitioner's
arraignment on the 32 Amended Informations was set for
April 12, 1993 at 8:00 A.M. (Rollo, p. 186).
Hence, the filing of the instant petition.
Acting on the petition for the issuance of a restraining order, we issued the Resolution
dated March 25, 1993, ordering Presiding Justice Garchitorena "to CEASE and DESIST
from sitting in the case until the question of his disqualification is finally resolved by this
Court and from enforcing the resolution dated March 11, 1993, ordering petitioner to
post bail bonds for the 32 Amended Informations and from proceeding with the
arraignment on
April 12, 1993" (Rollo, p. 194).
Re: Disqualification of the Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice
The petition for disqualification of Presiding Justice Garchitorena is based on the
publication of is letter in the July 29, 1992 issue of the Philippine Star, which to
petitioner "prejudged" the validity of the information filed
against her. Petitioner claims that Presiding Justice Garchitorena "cannot be expected to
change the conclusions he has subconsciously drawn in his public statements . . . when
he sits in judgment on the merits of the case . . ." (Rollo, pp. 16-17).
The letter in question was written in response to an item in Teodoro Benigno's column
in the July 22, 1992 issue of the Philippine Star, criticizing the Sandiganbayan for
issuing on July 11, 1992 a hold-departure order against petitioner. Benigno wrote that
said order reflected a "perverse morality" of the Sandiganbayan and the lack of "legal
morality" of its Presiding Justice, thus:
I cannot, for example accept the legal morality of Sandiganbayan Justice
Francis Garchitorena who would stop Miriam Defensor Santiago from
going abroad for a Harvard scholarship because of graft charges against
her. Some of the most perfidious Filipinos I know have come and gone,
left and returned to these shores without Mr. Garchitorena kicking any
kind of rumpus. Compared to the peccadilloes of this country's
outstanding felons, what Miriam is accused of is kindergarten stuff. The
Sandiganbayan Supremo got a lot of headlines for stopping Miriam but I
contend this is the kind of perverse morality we can do without (Rollo, p.
156).
The portion of the letter of Presiding Justice Garchitorena, which petitioner finds
objectionable, reads as follows:
(c) Mrs. Santiago has never informed any court where her cases are
pending of her intention to travel, whether the Regional Trial Court where
she is charged with soliciting donations from people transacting with her
office at Immigration or before the Sandiganbayan where she is charged
with having favored unqualified aliens with the benefits of the Alien
Legalization Program nor even the Supreme Court where her petition is
still pending (Rollo, p. 158).
In particular, petitioner considered as prejudgment the statement of Presiding Justice
Garchitorena that petitioner had been charged before the Sandiganbayan "with having
favored unqualified aliens with the benefits of the Alien Legalization Program."
The statement complained of was just a restatement of the Information filed against
petitioner in Criminal Case No. 16698 in connection with which the hold-departure order
was issued. Said Information specified the act constituting the offense charged, thus:
That on or about October 17, 1988, or for sometime prior or subsequent
thereto, in Manila, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, accused Miriam Defensor-Santiago, being then the Commissioner of
the Commission on Immigration and Deportation, with evident bad faith
and manifest partiality, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
criminally approve the application for legalization of aliens who arrived in
the Philippines after January 1, 1984 in violation of Executive Order No.
324 dated April 13, 1988 which does not allow the legalization of the
same, thereby causing undue injury to the government and giving
unwarranted benefits and advantages to said aliens in the discharge of
the official and administrative functions of said accused (Rollo, p. 36).
It appears that petitioner tried to leave the country without first securing the permission
of the Sandiganbayan, prompting it to issue the hold-departure order which Benigno
viewed as uncalled for. The letter of Presiding Justice Garchitorena, written in defense
of the dignity and integrity of the Sandiganbayan, merely stated that all persons facing
criminal charges in court, with no exception, have to secure permission to leave the
country. Nowhere in the letter is the merit of the charge against petitioner ever
touched. Certainly, there would have been no occasion for the letter had Benigno not
written his diatribe, unfair at that, against the Sandiganbayan.
Notwithstanding petitioner's misgiving, it should be taken into consideration that the
Sandiganbayan sits in three divisions with three justices in each division. Unanimity
among the three members is mandatory for arriving at any decision of a division (P.D.
No. 1606, Sec. 5). The collegiate character of the Sandiganbayan thus renders baseless
petitioner's fear of prejudice and bias on the part of Presiding Justice Garchitorena
(Paredes v. Gopengco, 29 SCRA 688 [1969] ).
Re: Claim of denial of due process
Petitioner cannot complain that her constitutional rights to due process were violated by
reason of the delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation. According to her,
while the offense was allegedly committed "on or before October 17, 1988", the
information was filed only on May 9, 1991 and the amended informations on December
8, 1992 (Rollo, p. 14).
Tatad v. Sandiganbayan, 159 SCRA 70 [1988] is inapplicable to petitioner's case.
In Tatad, there indeed was an unexplained inaction on the part of the public
prosecutors inspite of the simplicity of the legal and factual issues involved therein.
In the case at bench, there was a continuum of the investigatory process but it got
snarled because of the complexity of the issues involved. The act complained of in the
original information came to the attention of the Ombudsman only when it was first
reported in the January 10, 1989 issue of the Manila Standard. Immediately thereafter,
the investigatory process was set in motion. The investigation was first assigned to
Special Prosecutor Gualberto dela Llana but on request of petitioner herself the
investigation was first assigned to Special Prosecutor Gualberto dela Llana but on
request of petitioner herself the investigation was re-assigned to the Office of the
Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon. The case was handled by a panel of four prosecutors,
who submitted a draft resolution for the filing of the charges on March 29, 1990. The
draft resolution had to undergo the hierarchy of review, normal for a draft resolution
with a dissenting vote, until it reached the Ombudsman in March 1991.
We note that petitioner had previously filed two petitions before us involving Criminal
Case No. 16698 (G.R. Nos. 99289-99290; G.R.
No. 107598). Petitioner has not explained why she failed to raise the issue of delay in
the preliminary investigation and the filing of the information against her in those
petitions. a piece-meal presentation of issues, like the splitting of causes of action, is
self-defeating.
Petitioner next claims that the Amended Informations did not charge any offense
punishable under Section 3 (e) of R.A. No. 3019 because the official acts complained of
therein were authorized under Executive Order No. 324 and that the Board of
Commissioners of the Bureau of Investigation adopted the policy of approving
applications for legalization of spouses and unmarried, minor children of "qualified
aliens" even though they had arrived in the Philippines after December 31, 1983. she
concludes that the Sandiganbayan erred in not granting her motion to quash the
informations (Rollo, pp. 25-31).
In a motion to quash, the accused admits hypothetically the allegations of fact in the
information (People v. Supnad, 7 SCRA 603 [1963] ). Therefore, petitioner admitted
hypothetically in her motion that:
(1) She was a public officer;
(2) She approved the application for legalization of the stay of aliens, who
arrived in the Philippines after January 1, 1984;
(3) Those aliens were disqualified;
(4) She was cognizant of such fact; and
(5) She acted in "evident bad faith and manifest partiality in the execution
of her official functions."
The foregoing allegations of fact constitute the elements of the offense defined in
Section 3 (e) of R.A. No. 3019.
The claims that the acts complained of were indeed authorized under Executive Order
No. 324, that petitioner merely followed in good faith the policy adopted by the Board
of Commissioners and that the aliens were spouses or unmarried minor children of
persons qualified for legalization of stay, are matters of defense which she can establish
at the trial.
Anent petitioner's claim that the Amended Informations did not allege that she had
caused "undue injury to any party, including the Government," there are two ways of
violating Section 3 (e) of R.A. No. 3019. These are: (a) by causing undue injury to any
party, including the Government; and (b) by giving any private party any unwarranted
benefit, advantage or preference.
In Uy v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 100334, December 5, 1991, we held:
The use of the distinctive term "or" connotes that either act qualifies as a
violation of Section 3 (a). In other words the act of giving any private
party any unwarranted benefit, advantage or preference is not an
indispensable element of the offense of "causing any undue injury to any
party" as claimed by petitioners although there may be instances where
both elements concur.
Re: Delito continuado
Be that as it may, our attention was attracted by the allegation in the petition that the
public prosecutors filed 32 Amended Informations against petitioner, after manifesting
to the Sandiganbayan that they would only file one amended information (Rollo, pp. 6-
61). We also noted that petitioner questioned in her opposition to the motion to admit
the 32 Amended Informations, the splitting of the original information (Rollo, pp. 127-
129). In the furtherance of justice, we therefore proceed to inquire deeper into the
validity of said plant, which petitioner failed to pursue with vigor in her petition.
We find that, technically, there was only one crime that was committed in petitioner's
case, and hence, there should only be one information to be file against her.
The 32 Amended Informations charge what is known as delito continuado or "continued
crime" and sometimes referred to as "continuous crime."
In fairness to the Ombudsman's Office of the Special Prosecutor, it should be borne in
mind that the concept of delito continuado has been a vexing problem in Criminal Law
— difficult as it is to define and more difficult to apply.
According to Cuello Calon, for delito continuado to exist there should be a plurality of
acts performed during a period of time; unity of penal provision violated; and unity of
criminal intent or purpose, which means that two or more violations of the same penal
provisions are united in one and same instant or resolution leading to the perpetration
of the same criminal purpose or aim
(II Derecho Penal, p. 520; I Aquino, Revised Penal Code, 630, 1987 ed.).
According to Guevarra, in appearance, a delito continuado consists of several crimes
but in reality there is only one crime in the mind of the perpetrator (Commentaries on
the Revised Penal Code, 1957 ed., p. 102; Penal Science and Philippine Criminal Law, p.
152).
Padilla views such offense as consisting of a series of acts arising from one criminal
intent or resolution (Criminal Law, 1988 ed. pp. 53-54).
Applying the concept of delito continuado, we treated as constituting only one offense
the following cases:
(1) The theft of 13 cows belonging to two different owners committed by
the accused at the same time and at the same period of time (People v.
Tumlos, 67 Phil. 320 [1939] ).
(2) The theft of six roosters belonging to two different owners from the
same coop and at the same period of time (People v. Jaranillo, 55 SCRA
563 [1974] ).
(3) The theft of two roosters in the same place and on the same occasion
(People v. De Leon, 49 Phil. 437 [1926] ).
(4) The illegal charging of fees for services rendered by a lawyer every
time he collects veteran's benefits on behalf of a client, who agreed that
the attorney's fees shall be paid out of said benefits (People v. Sabbun, 10
SCRA 156 [1964] ). The collection of the legal fees were impelled by the
same motive, that of collecting fees for services rendered, and all acts of
collection were made under the same criminal impulse (People v. Lawas,
97 Phil. 975 [1955] ).
On the other hand, we declined to apply the concept to the following cases:
(1) Two estafa cases, one of which was committed during the period from
January 19 to December 1955 and the other from January 1956 to July
1956 (People v. Dichupa, 113 Phil. 306 [1961] ). The said acts were
committed on two different occasions.
(2) Several malversations committed in May, June and July, 1936, and
falsifications to conceal said offenses committed in August and October
1936. The malversations and falsifications "were not the result of only one
purpose or of only one resolution to embezzle and falsify . . ." (People v.
Cid, 66 Phil. 354 [1938] ).
(3) Two estafa cases, one committed in December 1963 involving the
failure of the collector to turn over the installments for a radio and the
other in June 1964 involving the pocketing of the installments for a sewing
machine (People v. Ledesma, 73 SCRA 77 [1976] ).
(4) 75 estafa cases committed by the conversion by the agent of
collections from customers of the employer made on different dates
(Gamboa v. Court of Appeals, 68 SCRA 308 [1975]).
The concept of delito continuado, although an outcry of the Spanish Penal Code, has
been applied to crimes penalized under special laws,
e.g. violation of R.A. No. 145 penalizing the charging of fees for services rendered
following up claims for war veteran's benefits (People v. Sabbun, 10 SCRA 156 [1964] ).
Under Article 10 of the Revised Penal Code, the Code shall be supplementary to special
laws, unless the latter provide the contrary. Hence, legal principles developed from the
Penal Code may be applied in a supplementary capacity to crimes punished under
special laws.
The question of whether a series of criminal acts over a period of time creates a single
offense or separate offenses has troubled also American Criminal Law and perplexed
American courts as shown by the several theories that have evolved in theft cases.
The trend in theft cases is to follow the so-called "single larceny" doctrine, that is, the
taking of several things, whether belonging to the same or different owners, at the
same time and place constitutes but one larceny. Many courts have abandoned the
"separate larceny doctrine," under which there is a distinct larceny as to the property of
each victim. Also abandoned was the doctrine that the government has the discretion to
prosecute the accused or one offense or for as many distinct offenses as there are
victims (annotation, 37 ALR 3rd 1407, 1410-1414).
The American courts following the "single larceny" rule, look at the commission of the
different criminal acts as but one continuous act involving the same "transaction" or as
done on the same "occasion" (State v. Sampson, 157 Iowa 257, 138 NW 473; People v.
Johnson, 81 Mich. 573, 45 NW 1119; State v. Larson, 85 Iowa 659, 52 NW 539).
An American court held that a contrary rule would violate the constitutional guarantee
against putting a man in jeopardy twice for the same offense (Annotation, 28 ALR 2d
1179). Another court observed that the doctrine is a humane rule, since if a separate
charge could be filed for each act, the accused may be sentenced to the penitentiary for
the rest of his life (Annotation, 28 ALR 2d 1179).
In the case at bench, the original information charged petitioner with performing a
single criminal act — that of her approving the application for legalization of aliens not
qualified under the law to enjoy such privilege.
The original information also averred that the criminal act : (i) committed by petitioner
was in violation of a law — Executive Order No. 324 dated
April 13, 1988, (ii) caused an undue injury to one offended party, the Government, and
(iii) was done on a single day, i.e., on or about October 17, 1988.
The 32 Amended Informations reproduced verbatim the allegation of the original
information, except that instead of the word "aliens" in the original information each
amended information states the name of the individual whose stay was legalized.
At the hearing of the motion for a bill of particulars, the public prosecutors manifested
that they would file only one amended information embodying the legalization of stay of
the 32 aliens. As stated in the Order dated November 12, 1992 of the Sandiganbayan
(First Division):
On the matter of the Bill of Particulars, the prosecution has conceded
categorically that the accusation against Miriam Defensor Santiago
consists of one violation of the law represented by the approval of the
applications of 32 foreign nationals for availment (sic) of the Alien
Legalization Program. In this respect, and responding directly to the
concerns of the accused through counsel, the prosecution is categorical
that there will not be 32 accusations but only one . . . (Rollo, p. 59).
The 32 Amended Informations aver that the offenses were committed on the same
period of time, i.e., on or about October 17, 1988. The strong probability even exists
that the approval of the application or the legalization of the stay of the 32 aliens was
done by a single stroke of the pen, as when the approval was embodied in the same
document.
Likewise, the public prosecutors manifested at the hearing the motion for a bill of
particulars that the Government suffered a single harm or injury. The Sandiganbayan in
its Order dated November 13, 1992 stated as follows:
. . . Equally, the prosecution has stated that insofar as the damage and
prejudice to the government is concerned, the same is represented not
only by the very fact of the violation of the law itself but because of the
adverse effect on the stability and security of the country in granting
citizenship to those not qualified (Rollo, p. 59).
WHEREFORE, the Resolution dated March 3, 1993 in Criminal Case No. 16698 of the
Sandiganbayan (First Division) is AFFIRMED and its Resolution dated March 11, 1993 in
Criminal Case No. 16698 is MODIFIED in the sense that the Office of the Special
Prosecutor of the Office of the Ombudsman is directed to consolidate the 32 Amended
Informations (Criminal Cases Nos. 18371 to 18402) into one information charging only
one offense under the original case number, i.e., No. 16698. The temporary restraining
order issued by this Court on March 25, 1993 is LIFTED insofar as to the disqualification
of Presiding Justice Francis Garchitorena is concerned.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 104879 May 6, 1994
ELIZALDE MALALOAN and MARLON LUAREZ, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS; HON. ANTONIO J. FINEZA, in his capacity as Presiding
Judge, Branch 131, Regional Trial Court of Kalookan City; HON. TIRSO D.C.
VELASCO, in his capacity as Presiding Judge, Branch 88, Regional Trial Court
of Quezon City; and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Alexander A. Padilla for petitioners.
The Solicitor General for the People of the Philippines.

REGALADO, J.:
Creative legal advocacy has provided this Court with another primae impressionis case
through the present petition wherein the parties have formulated and now pose for
resolution the following issue: Whether or not a court may take cognizance of an
application for a search warrant in connection with an offense committed outside its
territorial boundary and, thereafter, issue the warrant to conduct a search on a place
outside the court's supposed territorial jurisdiction. 1
The factual background and judicial antecedents of this case are best taken from the
findings of respondent Court of Appeals 2 on which there does not appear to be any
dispute, to wit:
From the pleadings and supporting documents before the Court, it can be
gathered that on March 22, 1990, 1st Lt. Absalon V. Salboro of the
CAPCOM Northern Sector (now Central Sector) filed with the Regional
Trial Court of Kalookan City an application for search warrant. The search
warrant was sought for in connection with an alleged violation of P.D.
1866 (Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunitions) perpetrated at No.
25 Newport St., corner Marlboro St., Fairview, Quezon City. On March 23,
1990, respondent RTC Judge of Kalookan City issued Search Warrant No.
95-90. On the same day, at around 2:30 p.m., members of the CAPCOM,
armed with subject search warrant, proceeded to the situs of the offense
alluded to, where a labor seminar of the Ecumenical Institute for Labor
Education and Research (EILER) was then taking place. According to
CAPCOM's "Inventory of Property Seized," firearms, explosive materials
and subversive documents, among others, were seized and taken during
the search. And all the sixty-one (61) persons found within the premises
searched were brought to Camp Karingal, Quezon City but most of them
were later released, with the exception of the herein petitioners, EILER
Instructors, who were indicated for violation of P.D. 1866 in Criminal Case
No. Q-90-11757 before Branch 88 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon
City, presided over by respondent Judge Tirso D.C. Velasco.
On July 10, 1990, petitioners presented a "Motion for Consolidation,
Quashal of Search Warrant and For the Suppression of All Illegally
Acquired Evidence" before the Quezon City court; and a "Supplemental
Motion to the Motion for Consolidation, Quashal of Search Warrant and
Exclusion of Evidence Illegally Obtained.
On September 21, 1990, the respondent Quezon City Judge issued the
challenged order, consolidating subject cases but denying the prayer for
the quashal of the search warrant under attack, the validity of which
warrant was upheld; opining that the same falls under the category of
Writs and Processes, within the contemplation of paragraph 3(b) of the
Interim Rules and Guidelines, and can be served not only within the
territorial jurisdiction of the issuing court but anywhere in the judicial
region of the issuing court (National Capital Judicial Region);. . .
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the said Order under challenge,
having been denied by the assailed Order of October 5, 1990, petitioners
have come to this Court via the instant petition, raising the sole issue:
WHETHER OR NOT A COURT MAY TAKE COGNIZANCE OF
AN APPLICATION FOR A SEARCH WARRANT IN
CONNECTION WITH AN OFFENSE ALLEGEDLY COMMITTED
OUTSIDE ITS TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION AND TO ISSUE
A WARRANT TO CONDUCT A SEARCH ON A PLACE
LIKEWISE OUTSIDE ITS TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION.
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent Court of Appeals rendered judgment, 3 in effect affirming that of the trial
court, by denying due course to the petition for certiorari and lifting the temporary
restraining order it had issued on November 29, 1990 in connection therewith. This
judgment of respondent court is now impugned in and sought to be reversed through
the present recourse before us.
We are not favorably impressed by the arguments adduced by petitioners in support of
their submissions. Their disquisitions postulate interpretative theories contrary to the
letter and intent of the rules on search warrants and which could pose legal obstacles, if
not dangerous doctrines, in the area of law enforcement. Further, they fail to validly
distinguish, hence they do not convincingly delineate the difference, between the
matter of (1) the court which has the competence to issue a search warrant under a
given set of facts, and (2) the permissible jurisdictional range in the enforcement of
such search warrant vis-a-vis the court's territorial jurisdiction. These issues while
effectively cognate are essentially discrete since the resolution of one does not
necessarily affect or preempt the other. Accordingly, to avoid compounding the seeming
confusion, these questions shall be discussed seriatim.
I
Petitioners invoke the jurisdictional rules in the institution of criminal actions to
invalidate the search warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court of Kalookan City
because it is directed toward the seizure of firearms and ammunition allegedly cached
illegally in Quezon City. This theory is sought to be buttressed by the fact that the
criminal case against petitioners for violation of Presidential Decree No. 1866 was
subsequently filed in the latter court. The application for the search warrant, it is
claimed, was accordingly filed in a court of improper venue and since venue in criminal
actions involves the territorial jurisdiction of the court, such warrant is void for having
been issued by a court without jurisdiction to do so.
The basic flaw in this reasoning is in erroneously equating the application for and the
obtention of a search warrant with the institution and prosecution of a criminal action in
a trial court. It would thus categorize what is only a special criminal process, the power
to issue which is inherent in all courts, as equivalent to a criminal action, jurisdiction
over which is reposed in specific courts of indicated competence. It ignores the fact that
the requisites, procedure and purpose for the issuance of a search warrant are
completely different from those for the institution of a criminal action.
For, indeed, a warrant, such as a warrant of arrest or a search warrant, merely
constitutes process.4 A search warrant is defined in our jurisdiction as an order in
writing issued in the name of the People of the Philippines signed by a judge and
directed to a peace officer, commanding him to search for personal property and bring
it before the court.5 A search warrant is in the nature of a criminal process akin to a
writ of discovery. It is a special and peculiar remedy, drastic in its nature, and made
necessary because of a public necessity. 6
In American jurisdictions, from which we have taken our jural concept and provisions
on search warrants, 7 such warrant is definitively considered merely as a process,
generally issued by a court in the exercise of its ancillary jurisdiction, and not a criminal
action to be entertained by a court pursuant to its original jurisdiction. We emphasize
this fact for purposes of both issues as formulated in this opinion, with the catalogue of
authorities herein.
Invariably, a judicial process is defined as a writ, warrant, subpoena, or other formal
writing issued by authority of law; also the means of accomplishing an end, including
judicial proceedings, 8 or all writs, warrants, summonses, and orders of courts of justice
or judicial officers. 9 It is likewise held to include a writ, summons, or order issued in a
judicial proceeding to acquire jurisdiction of a person or his property, to expedite the
cause or enforce the judgment, 10 or a writ, warrant, mandate, or other process issuing
from a court of justice. 11
2. It is clear, therefore, that a search warrant is merely a judicial process designed by
the Rules to respond only to an incident in the main case, if one has already been
instituted, or in anticipation thereof. In the latter contingency, as in the case at bar, it
would involve some judicial clairvoyance to require observance of the rules as to where
a criminal case may eventually be filed where, in the first place, no such action having
as yet been instituted, it may ultimately be filed in a territorial jurisdiction other than
that wherein the illegal articles sought to be seized are then located. This is aside from
the consideration that a criminal action may be filed in different venues under the rules
for delitos continuados or in those instances where different trial courts have concurrent
original jurisdiction over the same criminal offense.
In fact, to illustrate the gravity of the problem which petitioners' implausible position
may create, we need not stray far from the provisions of Section 15, Rule 110 of the
Rules of Court on the venue of criminal actions and which we quote:
Sec. 15. Place where action to be instituted. —
(a) Subject to existing laws, in all criminal prosecutions the action shall be
instituted and tried in the court of the municipality or territory wherein the
offense was committed or any one of the essential ingredients thereof
took place.
(b) Where an offense is committed on a railroad train, in an aircraft, or
any other public or private vehicle while in the course of its trip, the
criminal action may be instituted and tried in the court of any municipality
or territory where such train, aircraft or other vehicle passed during such
trip, including the place of departure and arrival.
(c) Where an offense is committed on board a vessel in the course of its
voyage, the criminal action may be instituted and tried in the proper court
of the first port of entry or of any municipality or territory through which
the vessel passed during such voyage, subject to the generally accepted
principles of international law.
(d) Other crimes committed outside of the Philippines but punishable
therein under Article 2 of the Revised Penal Code shall be cognizable by
the proper court in which the charge is first filed. (14a)
It would be an exacting imposition upon the law enforcement authorities or the
prosecutorial agencies to unerringly determine where they should apply for a search
warrant in view of the uncertainties and possibilities as to the ultimate venue of a case
under the foregoing rules. It would be doubly so if compliance with that requirement
would be under pain of nullification of said warrant should they file their application
therefor in and obtain the same from what may later turn out to be a court not within
the ambit of the aforequoted Section 15.
Our Rules of Court, whether of the 1940, 1964 or the present vintage, and, for that
matter, the Judiciary Act of 1948 12 or the recent Judiciary Reorganization Act, 13 have
never required the jurisdictional strictures that the petitioners' thesis would seek to be
inferentially drawn from the silence of the reglementary provisions. On the contrary, we
are of the view that said statutory omission was both deliberate and significant. It
cannot but mean that the formulators of the Rules of Court, and even Congress itself,
did not consider it proper or correct, on considerations of national policy and the
pragmatics of experience, to clamp a legal manacle on those who would ferret out the
evidence of a crime. For us to now impose such conditions or restrictions, under the
guise of judicial interpretation, may instead be reasonably construed as trenching on
judicial legislation. It would be tantamount to a judicial act of engrafting upon a law
something that has been omitted but which someone believes ought to have been
embraced therein. 14
Concededly, the problem of venue would be relatively easier to resolve if a criminal
case has already been filed in a particular court and a search warrant is needed to
secure evidence to be presented therein. Obviously, the court trying the criminal case
may properly issue the warrant, upon proper application and due compliance with the
requisites therefor, since such application would only be an incident in that case and
which it can resolve in the exercise of its ancillary jurisdiction. If the contraband articles
are within its territorial jurisdiction, there would appear to be no further complications.
The jurisdictional problem would resurrect, however, where such articles are outside its
territorial jurisdiction, which aspect will be addressed hereafter.
3. Coming back to the first issue now under consideration, petitioners, after discoursing
on the respective territorial jurisdictions of the thirteen Regional Trial Courts which
correspond to the thirteen judicial regions, 15 invite our attention to the fact that this
Court, pursuant to its authority granted by
law, 16 has defined the territorial jurisdiction of each branch of a Regional Trial
Court 17 over which the particular branch concerned shall exercise its
authority. 18 From this, it is theorized that "only the branch of a Regional Trial Court
which has jurisdiction over the place to be searched could grant an application for and
issue a warrant to search that place." Support for such position is sought to be drawn
from issuances of this Court, that is, Circular No. 13 issued on October 1, 1985, as
amended by Circular No. 19 on August 4, 1987.
We reject that proposition. Firstly, it is evident that both circulars were not intended to
be of general application to all instances involving search warrants and in all courts as
would be the case if they had been adopted as part of the Rules of Court. These
circulars were issued by the Court to meet a particular exigency, that is, as emergency
guidelines on applications for search warrants filed only in the courts of Metropolitan
Manila and other courts with multiple salas and only with respect to violations of the
Anti-Subversion Act, crimes against public order under the Revised Penal Code, illegal
possession of firearms and/or ammunitions, and violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act.
In other words, the aforesaid theory on the court's jurisdiction to issue search warrants
would not apply to single-sala courts and other crimes. Accordingly, the rule sought by
petitioners to be adopted by the Court would actually result in a bifurcated procedure
which would be vulnerable to legal and constitutional objections.
For that matter, neither can we subscribe to petitioners' contention that Administrative
Order No. 3 of this Court, supposedly "defining the limits of the territorial jurisdiction of
the Regional Trial Courts," was the source of the subject matter jurisdiction of, as
distinguished from the exercise of jurisdiction by, the courts. As earlier observed, this
administrative order was issued pursuant to the provisions of Section 18 of Batas
Pambansa Blg. 129, the pertinent portion of which states:
Sec. 18. Authority to define territory appurtenant to each branch. — The
Supreme Court shall define the territory over which a branch of the
Regional Trial Court shall exercise its authority. The territory thus defined
shall be deemed to be the territorial area of the branch concerned for
purposes of determining the venue of all writs, proceedings or actions,
whether civil or criminal, . . . . (Emphasis ours.)
Jurisdiction is conferred by substantive law, in this case Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, not
by a procedural law and, much less, by an administrative order or circular. The
jurisdiction conferred by said Act on regional trial courts and their judges is
basically regional in scope. Thus, Section 17 thereof provides that "(e)very Regional
Trial Judge shall be appointed to a region which shall be his permanent station," and he
"may be assigned by the Supreme Court to any branch or city or municipality within the
same region as public interest may require, and such assignment shall not be deemed
an assignment to another station . . ." which, otherwise, would necessitate a new
appointment for the judge.
In fine, Administrative Order No. 3 and, in like manner, Circulars Nos. 13 and 19, did
not per se confer jurisdiction on the covered regional trial court or its branches, such
that non-observance thereof would nullify their judicial acts. The administrative order
merely defines the limits of the administrative area within which a branch of the court
may exercise its authority pursuant to the jurisdiction conferred by Batas Pambansa Blg.
129. The circulars only allocated to the three executive judges the administrative
areas for which they may respectively issue search warrants under the special
circumstance contemplated therein, but likewise pursuant to the jurisdiction vested in
them by Batas Pambansa Blg, 129.
Secondly, and more importantly, we definitely cannot accept the conclusion that the
grant of power to the courts mentioned therein, to entertain and issue search warrants
where the place to be searched is within their territorial jurisdiction, was intended to
exclude other courts from exercising the same power. It will readily be noted that
Circular No. 19 was basically intended to provide prompt action on applications for
search warrants. Its predecessor, Administrative Circular No. 13, had a number of
requirements, principally a raffle of the applications for search warrants, if they had
been filed with the executive judge, among the judges within his administrative area.
Circular No. 19 eliminated, by amendment, that required raffle and ordered instead that
such applications should immediately be "taken cognizance of and acted upon by the
Executive Judges of the Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, and Municipal
Trial Court under whose jurisdiction the place to be searched is located," or by their
substitutes enumerated therein.
Evidently, that particular provision of Circular No. 19 was never intended to confer
exclusive jurisdiction on said executive judges. In view of the fact, however, that they
were themselves directed to personally act on the applications, instead of farming out
the same among the other judges as was the previous practice, it was but necessary
and practical to require them to so act only on applications involving search of places
located within their respective territorial jurisdictions. The phrase above quoted was,
therefore, in the nature of an allocation in the assignment of applications among them,
in recognition of human capabilities and limitations, and not a mandate for the
exclusion of all other courts. In truth, Administrative Circular No. 13 even specifically
envisaged and anticipated the non-exclusionary nature of that provision, thus:
4. If, in the implementation of the search warrant properties are seized
thereunder and the corresponding case is filed in court, said case shall be
distributed conformably with Circular No. 7 dated September 23, 1974, of
this Court, and thereupon tried and decided by the judge to whom it has
been assigned, and not necessarily by the judge who issued the search
warrant. (Emphasis supplied.)
It is, therefore, incorrect to say that only the court which has jurisdiction over the
criminal case can issue the search warrant, as would be the consequence of petitioners'
position that only the branch of the court with jurisdiction over the place to be
searched can issue a warrant to search the same. It may be conceded, as a matter of
policy, that where a criminal case is pending, the court wherein it was filed, or the
assigned branch thereof, has primaryjurisdiction to issue the search warrant; and where
no such criminal case has yet been filed, that the executive judges or their lawful
substitutes in the areas and for the offenses contemplated in Circular No. 19 shall
have primary jurisdiction.
This should not, however, mean that a court whose territorial jurisdiction does not
embrace the place to be searched cannot issue a search warrant therefor, where the
obtention of that search warrant is necessitated and justified by compelling
considerations of urgency, subject, time and place. Conversely, neither should a search
warrant duly issued by a court which has jurisdiction over a pending criminal case, or
one issued by an executive judge or his lawful substitute under the situations provided
for by Circular No. 19, be denied enforcement or nullified just because it was
implemented outside the court's territorial jurisdiction.
This brings us, accordingly, to the second issue on the permissible jurisdictional range
of enforcement of search warrants.
II
As stated in limine, the affiliated issue raised in this case is whether a branch of a
regional trial court has the authority to issue a warrant for the search of a place outside
its territorial jurisdiction. Petitioners insistently answer the query in the negative. We
hold otherwise.
1. We repeat what we have earlier stressed: No law or rule imposes such a limitation on
search warrants, in the same manner that no such restriction is provided for warrants of
arrest. Parenthetically, in certain states within the American jurisdiction, there were
limitations of the time wherein a warrant of arrest could be enforced. In our jurisdiction,
no period is provided for the enforceability of warrants of arrest, and although within
ten days from the delivery of the warrant of arrest for execution a return thereon must
be made to the issuing judge, 19 said warrant does not become functus officio but is
enforceable indefinitely until the same is enforced or recalled. On the other hand, the
lifetime of a search warrant has been expressly set in our Rules at ten days 20 but there
is no provision as to the extent of the territory wherein it may be enforced, provided it
is implemented on and within the premises specifically described therein which may or
may not be within the territorial jurisdiction of the issuing court.
We make the foregoing comparative advertence to emphasize the fact that when the
law or rules would provide conditions, qualifications or restrictions, they so state.
Absent specific mention thereof, and the same not being inferable by necessary
implication from the statutory provisions which are presumed to be complete and
expressive of the intendment of the framers, a contrary interpretation on whatever
pretext should not be countenanced.
A bit of legal history on this contestation will be helpful. The jurisdictional rule
heretofore was that writs and processes of the so-called inferior courts could be
enforced outside the province only with the approval of the former court of first
instance. 21 Under the Judiciary Reorganization Act, the enforcement of such writs and
processes no longer needs the approval of the regional trial court. 22 On the other hand,
while, formerly, writs and processes of the then courts of first instance were
enforceable throughout the Philippines, 23 under the Interim or Transitional Rules and
Guidelines, certain specified writs issued by a regional trial court are now enforceable
only within its judicial region. In the interest of clarity and contrast, it is necessary that
said provision be set out in full:
3. Writs and processes. —
(a) Writs of certiorari, prohibition mandamus, quo warranto, habeas
corpus and injunction issued by a regional trial court may be enforced in
any part of the region.
(b) All other processes, whether issued by a regional trial court or a
metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court or municipal circuit trial court
may be served anywhere in the Philippines, and, in the last three cases,
without a certification by the judge of the regional trial court. (Emphasis
ours.)
We feel that the foregoing provision is too clear to be further belabored or enmeshed in
unwarranted polemics. The rule enumerates the writs and processes which, even if
issued by a regional trial court, are enforceable only within its judicial region. In
contrast, it unqualifiedly provides that all other writs and processes, regardless of which
court issued the same, shall be enforceable anywhere in the Philippines. As earlier
demonstrated, a search warrant is but a judicial process, not a criminal action. No legal
provision, statutory or reglementary, expressly or impliedly provides a jurisdictional or
territorial limit on its area of enforceability. On the contrary, the above-quoted provision
of the interim Rules expressly authorizes its enforcement anywhere in the country, since
it is not among the processes specified in paragraph (a) and there is no distinction or
exception made regarding the processes contemplated in
paragraph (b).
2. This is but a necessary and inevitable consequence of the nature and purpose of a
search warrant. The Court cannot be blind to the fact that it is extremely difficult, as it
undeniably is, to detect or elicit information regarding the existence and location of
illegally possessed or prohibited articles. The Court is accordingly convinced that it
should not make the requisites for the apprehension of the culprits and the confiscation
of such illicit items, once detected, more onerous if not impossible by imposing further
niceties of procedure or substantive rules of jurisdiction through decisional dicta. For
that matter, we are unaware of any instance wherein a search warrant was struck down
on objections based on territorial jurisdiction. In the landmark case of Stonehill, et al.
vs. Diokno, et al., 24 the searches in the corporate offices in Manila and the residences
in Makati of therein petitioners were conducted pursuant to search warrants issued by
the Quezon City and Pasig branches of the Court of First Instance of Rizal and by the
Municipal Courts of Manila and Quezon City, 25 but the same were never challenged on
jurisdictional grounds although they were subsequently nullified for being general
warrants.
3. A clarion call supposedly of libertarian import is further sounded by petitioners,
dubiously invoking the constitutional proscription against illegal searches and seizures.
We do not believe that the enforcement of a search warrant issued by a court outside
the territorial jurisdiction wherein the place to be searched is located would create a
constitutional question. Nor are we swayed by the professed apprehension that the law
enforcement authorities may resort to what could be a permutation of forum shopping,
by filing an application for the warrant with a "friendly" court. It need merely be
recalled that a search warrant is only a process, not an action. Furthermore, the
constitutional mandate is translated into specifically enumerated safeguards in Rule 126
of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure for the issuance of a search warrant, 26 and all
these have to be observed regardless of whatever court in whichever region is
importuned for or actually issues a search warrant. Said requirements, together with
the ten-day lifetime of the warrant 27 would discourage resort to a court in another
judicial region, not only because of the distance but also the contingencies of travel and
the danger involved, unless there are really compelling reasons for the authorities to do
so. Besides, it does seem odd that such constitutional protests have not been made
against warrants of arrest which are enforceable indefinitely and anywhere although
they involve, not only property and privacy, but persons and liberty.
On the other hand, it is a matter of judicial knowledge that the authorities have to
contend now and then with local and national criminal syndicates of considerable power
and influence, political or financial in nature, and so pervasive as to render foolhardy
any attempt to obtain a search warrant in the very locale under their sphere of control.
Nor should we overlook the fact that to do so will necessitate the transportation of
applicant's witnesses to and their examination in said places, with the attendant risk,
danger and expense. Also, a further well-founded precaution, obviously born of
experience and verifiable data, is articulated by the court a quo, as quoted by
respondent court:
This court is of the further belief that the possible leakage of information
which is of utmost importance in the issuance of a search warrant is
secured (against) where the issuing magistrate within the region does not
hold court sessions in the city or municipality, within the region, where the
place to be searched is located. 28
The foregoing situations may also have obtained and were taken into account in the
foreign judicial pronouncement that, in the absence of statutory restrictions, a justice of
the peace in one district of the county may issue a search warrant to be served in
another district of the county and made returnable before the justice of still another
district or another court having jurisdiction to deal with the matters involved. 29 In the
present state of our law on the matter, we find no such statutory restrictions both with
respect to the court which can issue the search warrant and the enforcement thereof
anywhere in the Philippines.
III
Concern is expressed over possible conflicts of jurisdiction (or, more accurately, in
the exercise of jurisdiction) where the criminal case is pending in one court and the
search warrant is issued by another court for the seizure of personal property intended
to be used as evidence in said criminal case. This arrangement is not unknown or
without precedent in our jurisdiction. In fact, as hereinbefore noted, this very situation
was anticipated in Circular No. 13 of this Court under the limited scenario contemplated
therein.
Nonetheless, to put such presentiments to rest, we lay down the following policy
guidelines:
1. The court wherein the criminal case is pending shall have primary jurisdiction to issue
search warrants necessitated by and for purposes of said case. An application for a
search warrant may be filed with another court only under extreme and compelling
circumstances that the applicant must prove to the satisfaction of the latter court which
may or may not give due course to the application depending on the validity of the
justification offered for not filing the same in the court with primary jurisdiction
thereover.
2. When the latter court issues the search warrant, a motion to quash the same may be
filed in and shall be resolved by said court, without prejudice to any proper recourse to
the appropriate higher court by the party aggrieved by the resolution of the issuing
court. All grounds and objections then available, existent or known shall be raised in the
original or subsequent proceedings for the quashal of the warrant, otherwise they shall
be deemed waived.
3. Where no motion to quash the search warrant was filed in or resolved by the issuing
court, the interested party may move in the court where the criminal case is pending
for the suppression as evidence of the personal property seized under the warrant if the
same is offered therein for said purpose. Since two separate courts with different
participations are involved in this situation, a motion to quash a search warrant and a
motion to suppress evidence are alternative and not cumulative remedies. In order to
prevent forum shopping, a motion to quash shall consequently be governed by the
omnibus motion rule, provided, however, that objections not available, existent or
known during the proceedings for the quashal of the warrant may be raised in the
hearing of the motion to suppress. The resolution of the court on the motion to
suppress shall likewise be subject to any proper remedy in the appropriate higher court.
4. Where the court which issued the search warrant denies the motion to quash the
same and is not otherwise prevented from further proceeding thereon, all personal
property seized under the warrant shall forthwith be transmitted by it to the court
wherein the criminal case is pending, with the necessary safeguards and documentation
therefor.
5. These guidelines shall likewise be observed where the same criminal offense is
charged in different informations or complaints and filed in two or more courts with
concurrent original jurisdiction over the criminal action. Where the issue of which court
will try the case shall have been resolved, such court shall be considered as vested with
primary jurisdiction to act on applications for search warrants incident to the criminal
case.
WHEREFORE, on the foregoing premises, the instant petition is DENIED and the
assailed judgment of respondent Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 23533 is hereby
AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-31665 August 6, 1975

LEONARDO ALMEDA, petitioner,


vs.
HON. ONOFRE A. VILLALUZ, in his capacity as presiding judge of the Circuit Criminal
Court, Seventh Judicial District, Pasig, Rizal, and HON. GREGORIO PINEDA, City Fiscal
of Pasay City, respondents.
Honorio Makalintal, Jr. for petitioner.

Pasay City Fiscal Gregorio Pineda for respondent.

CASTRO, J.:

The petitioner Leonardo Almeda (alias Nardong Paa) was charged, together with five
others, with the crime of qualified theft of a motor vehicle (criminal case 285-Pasay) in
the Circuit Criminal Court of Pasig, Rizal, presided by the respondent Judge Onofre
Villauz. The amount of the bond recommended for the provisional release of Almeda
was P15,000, and this was approved by the respondent judge with a direction that it be
posted entirely in cash.

At the hearing of February 18, 1970, Almeda asked the trial court to allow him to post a
surety bond in lieu of the cash bond required of him. This request was denied, and so
was an oral motion for reconsideration, on the ground that the amended information
imputed habitual delinquency and recidivism on the part of Almeda.

At the same hearing, the respondent city fiscal, thru his assistant, reiterated his oral
motion made at a previous hearing for amendment of the information so as to include
allegations of recidivism and habitual delinquency in the particular case of Almeda. The
latter vigorously objected, arguing that (a) such an amendment was premature since no
copies of prior conviction could yet be presented in court, (b) the motion to amend
should have been made in writing in order to enable him to object formally, and (c) the
proposed amendment would place him in double jeopardy considering that he had
already pleaded not guilty to the information. The trial court nevertheless granted the
respondent fiscal's motion in open court. An oral motion for reconsideration was denied.

Immediately thereafter, the assistant fiscal took hold of the original information and,
then and there, entered his amendment by annotating the same on the back of the
document. The petitioner forthwith moved for the dismissal of the charge on the
ground of double jeopardy, but this motion and a motion for reconsideration were
denied in open court.

Hence, the present special civil action for certiorari with preliminary injunction.

Two issues are posed to us for resolution: First, whether the respondent judge has the
authority to require a strictly cash bond and disallow the petitioner's attempt to post a
surety bond for his provisional liberty, and second, whether the amendment to the
information, after a plea of not guilty thereto, was properly allowed in both substance
and procedure.
1. As defined by section 1 of Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, bail is "the security
required and given for the release of a person who is in the custody of the law, that he
will appear before any court in which his appearance may be required as stipulated in
the bail bond or recognizance." The purpose of requiring bail is to relieve an accused
from imprisonment until his conviction and yet secure his appearance at the trial.1

In this jurisdiction, the accused, as of right, is entitled to bail prior to conviction except
when he is charged with a capital offense and the evidence of guilt is strong. This right
is guaranteed by the Constitution,2 and may not be denied even where the accused has
previously escaped detention,3 or by reason of his prior absconding.4 In order to
safeguard the right of an accused to bail, the Constitution further provides that
"excessive bail shall not be required." This is logical cause the imposition of an
unreasonable bail may negate the very right itself. We have thus held that "where
conditions imposed upon a defendant seeking bail would amount to a refusal thereof
and render nugatory the constitutional right to bail, we would not hesitate to exercise
our supervisory powers to provide the required remedy."5

Coming to the issue at hand, the amount fixed for bail, while reasonable if considered in
terms of surety or property bonds, may be excessive if demanded in the form of cash. A
surety or property bond does not require an actual financial outlay on the part of the
bondsman or the property owner, and in the case of the bondsman the bond may be
obtained by the accused upon the payment of a relatively small premium. Only the
reputation or credit standing of the bondsman or the expectancy of the price at which
the property can be sold, is placed in the hands of the court to guarantee the
production of the body of the accused at the various proceedings leading to his
conviction or acquittal. Upon the other hand, the posting of a cash bond would entail a
transfer of assets into the possession of the court, and its procurement could work
untold hardship on the part of the accused as to have the effect of altogether denying
him his constitutional right to bail.

Aside from the foregoing, the condition that the accused may have provisional liberty
only upon his posting of a cash bond is abhorrent to the nature of bail and transgresses
our law on the matter. The sole purpose of bail is to insure the attendance of the
accused when required by the court, and there should be no suggestion of penalty on
the part of the accused nor revenue on the part of the government. The allowance of a
cash bond in lieu of sureties is authorized in this jurisdiction only because our rules
expressly provide for it. Were this not the case, the posting of bail by depositing cash
with the court cannot be countenanced because, strictly speaking, the very nature of
bail presupposes the attendance of sureties to whom the body of the prisoner can be
delivered.6 And even where cash bail is allowed, the option to deposit cash in lieu of a
surety bond primarily belongs to the accused. This is clearly deducible from the
language of section 14 of Rule 114 of the Rules of Court:
SEC. 14. Deposit of money as bail. — At any time after the amount of bail is fixed
by order, the defendant, instead of giving bail, may deposit with the nearest collector of
internal revenue, or provincial, city, or municipal treasurer the sum mentioned in the
order, and upon delivering to the court a proper certificate of the deposit, must be
discharged from custody. Money thus deposited, shall be applied to the payment of the
fine and costs for which judgment may be given; and the surplus, if any, shall be
returned to the defendant.

Thus, the trial court may not reject otherwise acceptable sureties and insist that the
accused obtain his provisional liberty only thru a cash bond.

But while we repudiate the particular measure adopted by the respondent judge, we
cannot fault the motive that caused him to demur to the petitioner's offer of a surety
bond. Based on the petitioner's past record,7 the range of his career in crime weighs
heavily against letting him off easily on a middling amount of bail. The likelihood of his
jumping bail or committing other harm to the citizenry while on provisional liberty is a
consideration that simply cannot be ignored.

Fortunately, the court is not without devices with which to meet the situation. First, it
could increase the amount of the bail bond to an appropriate level. Second, as part of
the power of the court over the person of the accused and for the purpose of
discouraging likely commission of other crimes by a notorious defendant while on
provisional liberty, the latter could be required, as one of the conditions of his bail
bond, to report in person periodically to the court and make an accounting of his
movements. And third, the accused might be warned, though this warning is not
essential to the requirements of due process, that under the 1973 Constitution8 "Trial
may proceed notwithstanding his absence provided that he has been duly notified and
his failure to appear is unjustified."

With respect to the amount of the bail bond, the trial court is well advised to consider,
inter alia, the following factors, where applicable: (1) the ability of the accused to give
bail: (2) the nature of the offense; (3) the penalty for the offense charged; (4) the
character and reputation of the accused (5) the health of the accused; (6) the character
and strength of the evidence; (7) the probability of the accused's appearance or non-
appearance at the trial; (8) forfeiture of previous bonds; (9) whether the accused was a
fugitive from justice when arrested; and (10) whether the accused is under bond for
appearance at trial in other cases. 9

It is not amiss, at this point, to remind all courts to exercise extreme care and caution
in the screening of bondsmen and sureties in regard to their reputation, solvency and
promptitude. Aside from the other precautions hitherto considered useful courts should
see to it that all surety bonds are accompanied by corresponding clearances from the
Office of the Insurance Commissioner. Bondsmen who cannot make good their
undertaking render inutile all efforts at making the bail system work in this jurisdiction.
2. Anent the second issue posed by the petitioner, the amendment of the
information to include allegations of habitual delinquency and recidivism, after a
previous plea thereto by the accused, is valid and in no way violates his right to be fully
apprised before trial of the charges against him.

Under section 13 of Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, the trial court has discretion to
allow amendments to the information on all matters of form after the defendant has
pleaded and during the trial when the same can be done without prejudice to the rights
of the defendant. What are prohibited at this stage of the proceedings are amendments
in substance. And the substantial matter in a complaint or information is the recital of
facts constituting the offense charged and determinative of the jurisdiction of the court.
All other matters are merely of form. 10

Under our law, a person is considered a habitual delinquent "if within a period of ten
years from the date of his release or last conviction of the crimes of serious or less
serious physical injuries, robo, hurto, estafa or falsification, he is found guilty of any of
said crimes a third time or oftener." 11 The law imposes an additional penalty based on
the criminal propensity of the accused apart from that provided by law for the last
crime of which he is found guilty. Habitual delinquency is not however, a crime in itself,
it is only a factor in determining a total penalty. 12 Article 62 of the Revised Penal Code
which treats of habitual delinquency does not establish a new crime, but only regulates
the "effect of the attendance of mitigating or aggravating circumstances and of habitual
delinquency." as its caption indicates. In fact, the provision on habitual delinquency is
found in a section of the Code prescribing rules for the application of penalties, not in a
section defining offense. 13 A recidivist, upon the other hand, is one who, at the time of
his trial for one crime, shall have been previously convicted by final judgment of
another crime embraced in the same title of the Revised Penal Code. Recidivism is
likewise not a criminal offense; it is but one of the aggravating circumstances
enumerated by the said Code. 14

The additional allegations of habitual delinquency and recidivism do not have the effect
of charging another offense different or distinct from the charge of qualified theft (of a
motor vehicle) contained in the information. Neither do they tend to correct any defect
in the jurisdiction of the trial court over the subject-matter of the case. The said new
allegations relate only to the range of the penalty that the court might impose in the
event of conviction. They do not alter the prosecution's theory of the case nor possibly
prejudice the form of defense the accused has or will assume. Consequently, in
authorizing the amendments, the respondent judge acted with due consideration of the
petitioner's rights and did not abuse his discretion.

Anent the petitioner's claim that the amendment of the information by the State places
him in double jeopardy, it should be remembered that there is double jeopardy only
when all the following requisites obtain in the original prosecution; (a) a valid complaint
or information; (b) a competent court; (c) the defendant had pleaded to the charge;
and (d) the defendant was acquitted, or convicted, or the case against him was
dismissed or otherwise terminated without his consent. 15

It is clear that the petitioner Almeda has not yet been convicted nor acquitted of the
charge of qualified theft of a motor vehicle contained in the original information. Neither
has the case against him been dismissed or otherwise terminated. The mere
amendment of the information to include allegations of habitual delinquency and
recidivism does not have the effect of a dismissal of the criminal action for qualified
theft alleged in the original information. 16

It cannot likewise be said that the accused is being placed in jeopardy a second time for
the past crimes of which he had been convicted. The constitutional objection, on the
ground of double jeopardy, to the statute providing an additional penalty to be meted
out to habitual delinquents, has long been rejected. 17

The procedure taken by the respondent fiscal and allowed by the respondent judge in
the amendment of the information does not, however, merit our approbation. Under
section 2 of Rule 15 of the Rules of Court, "all motions shall be made in writing except
motions for continuance made in the presence of the adverse party, or those made in
the course of a hearing or trial." A motion to amend the information, after the accused
has pleaded thereto, is certainly one that should be placed in writing and properly set
for hearing. We are loath to give our imprimatur to the kind of shortcut devised by the
respondents, especially as it relates to an alteration in the information. Considering,
however, that the petitioner was not deprived of his day in court and was in fact given
advance warning of the proposed amendment, although orally, we refrain from
disturbing the said amendment.

ACCORDINGLY, the order of the respondent judge of February 18, 1970 denying the
motion of the petitioner Almeda that he be allowed to post a surety bond instead of a
cash bond is hereby set aside, without prejudice, however, to increasing the amount of
the bail bond and/or the imposition of such conditions as the respondent judge might
consider desirable and proper for the purpose of insuring the attendance of the
petitioner at the trial, provided they are consistent with the views herein expressed. No
costs.

JOSE ANTONIO LEVISTE, G.R. No. 189122


Petitioner,
Present:

CORONA, J., Chairperson,


VELASCO, JR.,
- v e r s u s - NACHURA,
PERALTA and
MENDOZA, JJ.

THE COURT OF APPEALS


and PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES,
Respondents. Promulgated:
March 17, 2010

x---------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CORONA, J.:

Bail, the security given by an accused who is in the custody of the law for his release to
guarantee his appearance before any court as may be required,[1] is the answer of the
criminal justice system to a vexing question: what is to be done with the accused,
whose guilt has not yet been proven, in the dubious interval, often years long, between
arrest and final adjudication?[2]Bail acts as a reconciling mechanism to accommodate
both the accuseds interest in pretrial liberty and societys interest in assuring
the accuseds presence at trial.[3]

Upon conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by


death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, the accused who has been sentenced to
prison must typically begin serving time immediately unless, on application, he is
admitted to bail.[4] An accused not released on bail is incarcerated before an appellate
court confirms that his conviction is legal and proper. An erroneously convicted
accused who is denied bail loses his liberty to pay a debt to society he has never
owed.[5] Even if the conviction is subsequently affirmed, however, the accuseds interest
in bail pending appeal includes freedom pending judicial review, opportunity to
efficiently prepare his case and avoidance of potential hardships of prison.[6] On the
other hand, society has a compelling interest in protecting itself by swiftly incarcerating
an individual who is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of a crime serious enough to
warrant prison time.[7] Other recognized societal interests in the denial of bail pending
appeal include the prevention of the accuseds flight from court custody, the protection
of the community from potential danger and the avoidance of delay in
punishment.[8] Under what circumstances an accused may obtain bail pending appeal,
then, is a delicate balance between the interests of society and those of the accused.[9]
Our rules authorize the proper courts to exercise discretion in the grant of bail pending
appeal to those convicted by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by
death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. In the exercise of that discretion, the
proper courts are to be guided by the fundamental principle that the allowance of
bail pending appeal should be exercised not with laxity but with grave
caution and only for strong reasons, considering that the accused has been in fact
convicted by the trial court.[10]
THE FACTS

Charged with the murder of Rafael de las Alas, petitioner Jose


Antonio Leviste was convicted by the Regional Trial Court of Makati City for the lesser
crime of homicide and sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of six years and
one day of prision mayor as minimum to 12 years and one day of reclusion temporal as
maximum.[11]

He appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeals.[12] Pending appeal, he filed an


urgent application for admission to bail pending appeal, citing his advanced age and
health condition, and claiming the absence of any risk or possibility of flight on his part.

The Court of Appeals denied petitioners application for bail.[13] It invoked the bedrock
principle in the matter of bail pending appeal, that the discretion to extend bail during
the course of appeal should be exercised with grave caution and only for strong
reasons. Citing well-established jurisprudence, it ruled that bail is not a sick pass for an
ailing or aged detainee or a prisoner needing medical care outside the prison facility. It
found that petitioner

failed to show that he suffers from ailment of such gravity that his
continued confinement during trial will permanently impair his health or
put his life in danger. x x x Notably, the physical condition of [petitioner]
does not prevent him from seeking medical attention while confined in
prison, though he clearly preferred to be attended by his personal
physician.[14]

For purposes of determining whether petitioners application for bail could be


allowed pending appeal, the Court of Appeals also considered the fact of petitioners
conviction. It made a preliminary evaluation of petitioners case and made a prima
facie determination that there was no reason substantial enough to overturn the
evidence of petitioners guilt.
Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied.[15]

Petitioner now questions as grave abuse of discretion the denial of his application for
bail, considering that none of the conditions justifying denial of bail under the third
paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court was present. Petitioners theory
is that, where the penalty imposed by the trial court is more than six years but not
more than 20 years and the circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Section
5 are absent, bail must be granted to an appellant pending appeal.
THE ISSUE

The question presented to the Court is this: in an application for bail pending
appeal by an appellant sentenced by the trial court to a penalty of imprisonment for
more than six years, does the discretionary nature of the grant of bail pending appeal
mean that bail should automatically be granted absent any of the circumstances
mentioned in the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court?

Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court provides:

Sec. 5. Bail, when discretionary. Upon conviction by the


Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by
death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, admission to bail
is discretionary. The application for bail may be filed and acted upon by
the trial court despite the filing of a notice of appeal, provided it has not
transmitted the original record to the appellate court. However, if the
decision of the trial court convicting the accused changed the nature of
the offense from non-bailable to bailable, the application for bail can only
be filed with and resolved by the appellate court.

Should the court grant the application, the accused may be allowed
to continue on provisional liberty during the pendency of the appeal under
the same bail subject to the consent of the bondsman.

If the penalty imposed by the trial court is imprisonment


exceeding six (6) years, the accused shall be denied bail, or his
bail shall be cancelled upon a showing by the prosecution, with
notice to the accused, of the following or other similar
circumstances:

(a) That he is a recidivist, quasi-recidivist, or habitual


delinquent, or has committed the crime aggravated by the
circumstance of reiteration;

(b) That he has previously escaped from legal confinement,


evaded sentence, or violated the conditions of his bail
without a valid justification;

(c) That he committed the offense while under probation,


parole, or conditional pardon;

(d) That the circumstances of his case indicate the


probability of flight if released on bail; or
(e) That there is undue risk that he may commit another
crime during the pendency of the appeal.

The appellate court may, motu proprio or on motion of any party,


review the resolution of the Regional Trial Court after notice to the
adverse party in either case. (emphasis supplied)

Petitioner claims that, in the absence of any of the circumstances mentioned in the third
paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, an application for bail by an
appellant sentenced by the Regional Trial Court to a penalty of more than six years
imprisonment should automatically be granted.

Petitioners stance is contrary to fundamental considerations of procedural and


substantive rules.

BASIC PROCEDURAL CONCERNS


FORBID GRANT OF PETITION

Petitioner filed this special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court
to assail the denial by the Court of Appeals of his urgent application for admission to
bail pending appeal. While the said remedy may be resorted to challenge an
interlocutory order, such remedy is proper only where the interlocutory order was
rendered without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.[16]

Other than the sweeping averment that [t]he Court of Appeals committed grave
abuse of discretion in denying petitioners application for bail pending appeal despite the
fact that none of the conditions to justify the denial thereof under Rule 114, Section 5
[is] present, much less proven by the prosecution,[17] however, petitioner actually failed
to establish that the Court of Appeals indeed acted with grave abuse of discretion. He
simply relies on his claim that the Court of Appeals should have granted bail in view of
the absence of any of the circumstances enumerated in the third paragraph of Section
5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court. Furthermore, petitioner asserts that the Court of
Appeals committed a grave error and prejudged the appeal by denying his application
for bail on the ground that the evidence that he committed a capital offense was
strong.
We disagree.

It cannot be said that the Court of Appeals issued the assailed resolution without or in
excess of its jurisdiction. One, pending appeal of a conviction by the Regional Trial
Court of an offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment,
admission to bail is expressly declared to be discretionary. Two, the discretion to
allow or disallow bail pending appeal in a case such as this where the decision of the
trial court convicting the accused changed the nature of the offense from non-
bailable to bailable is exclusively lodged by the rules with the appellate court. Thus, the
Court of Appeals had jurisdiction to hear and resolve petitioners urgent application for
admission to bail pending appeal.

Neither can it be correctly claimed that the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of
discretion when it denied petitioners application for bail pending appeal. Grave abuse
of discretion is not simply an error in judgment but it is such a capricious and
whimsical exercise of judgment which is tantamount to lack of jurisdiction.[18] Ordinary
abuse of discretion is insufficient. The abuse of discretion must be grave, that is,
the power is exercised in an arbitrary or despotic manner by reason of passion or
personal hostility.[19] It must be so patent and gross as to amount to evasion of positive
duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined by or to act at all in
contemplation of the law. In other words, for a petition for certiorari to prosper, there
must be a clear showing of caprice and arbitrariness in the exercise of discretion.[20]

Petitioner never alleged that, in denying his application for bail pending appeal,
the Court of Appeals exercised its judgment capriciously and whimsically. No
capriciousness or arbitrariness in the exercise of discretion was ever imputed to the
appellate court. Nor could any such implication or imputation be inferred. As observed
earlier, the Court of Appeals exercised grave caution in the exercise of its discretion.
The denial of petitioners application for bail pending appeal was not unreasonable but
was the result of a thorough assessment of petitioners claim of ill health. By making a
preliminary appraisal of the merits of the case for the purpose of granting bail, the
court also determined whether the appeal was frivolous or not, or whether it raised a
substantial question. The appellate court did not exercise its discretion in a careless
manner but followed doctrinal rulings of this Court.

At best, petitioner only points out the Court of Appeals erroneous application and
interpretation of Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of
Court. However, the extraordinary writ of certiorari will not be issued to cure
errors in proceedings or erroneous conclusions of law or fact.[21] In this
connection, Lee v. People[22] is apropos:

Certiorari may not be availed of where it is not shown that the


respondent court lacked or exceeded its jurisdiction over the
case, even if its findings are not correct. Its questioned acts would at
most constitute errors of law and not abuse of discretion correctible by
certiorari.

In other words, certiorari will issue only to correct errors of


jurisdiction and not to correct errors of procedure or mistakes in the
courts findings and conclusions. An interlocutory order may be assailed
by certiorari or prohibition only when it is shown that the court acted
without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion.
However, this Court generally frowns upon this remedial measure as
regards interlocutory orders. To tolerate the practice of allowing
interlocutory orders to be the subject of review by certiorari will not only
delay the administration of justice but will also unduly burden the
courts.[23] (emphasis supplied)

WORDING OF THIRD PARAGRAPH OF SECTION 5,


RULE 114 CONTRADICTS PETITIONERS
INTERPRETATION

The third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 applies to two scenarios where the penalty
imposed on the appellant applying for bail is imprisonment exceeding six years. The
first scenario deals with the circumstances enumerated in the said paragraph (namely,
recidivism, quasi-recidivism, habitual delinquency or commission of the crime
aggravated by the circumstance of reiteration; previous escape from legal confinement,
evasion of sentence or violation of the conditions of his bail without a valid justification;
commission of the offense while under probation, parole or conditional pardon;
circumstances indicating the probability of flight if released on bail; undue risk of
committing another crime during the pendency of the appeal; or other similar
circumstances) not present. The second scenario contemplates the existence of at least
one of the said circumstances.

The implications of this distinction are discussed with erudition and clarity in the
commentary of retired Supreme Court Justice Florenz D. Regalado, an authority in
remedial law:

Under the present revised Rule 114, the availability of bail to an


accused may be summarized in the following rules:

xxxxxxxxx

e. After conviction by the Regional Trial Court wherein a penalty of


imprisonment exceeding 6 years but not more than 20 years is imposed,
and not one of the circumstances stated in Sec. 5 or any other similar
circumstance is present and proved, bail is a matter of discretion (Sec.
5);

f. After conviction by the Regional Trial Court imposing a penalty of


imprisonment exceeding 6 years but not more than 20 years, and any of
the circumstances stated in Sec. 5 or any other similar circumstance is
present and proved, no bail shall be grantedby said court (Sec. 5);
x x x[24] (emphasis supplied)

Retired Court of Appeals Justice Oscar M. Herrera, another authority in remedial


law, is of the same thinking:

Bail is either a matter of right or of discretion. It is a matter of right


when the offense charged is not punishable by
death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. On the other hand, upon
conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable
death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, bail becomes a matter of
discretion.

Similarly, if the court imposed a penalty of imprisonment


exceeding six (6) years then bail is a matter of discretion, except
when any of the enumerated circumstances under paragraph 3 of
Section 5, Rule 114 is present then bail shall be
denied.[25] (emphasis supplied)

In the first situation, bail is a matter of sound judicial discretion. This means
that, if none of the circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule
114 is present, the appellate court has the discretion to grant or deny bail. An
application for bail pending appeal may be denied even if the bail-
negating[26] circumstances in the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 are absent. In
other words, the appellate courts denial of bail pending appeal where none of the said
circumstances exists does not, by and of itself, constitute abuse of discretion.

On the other hand, in the second situation, the appellate court exercises a more
stringent discretion, that is, to carefully ascertain whether any of the enumerated
circumstances in fact exists. If it so determines, it has no other option except to deny or
revoke bail pending appeal. Conversely, if the appellate court grants bail pending
appeal, grave abuse of discretion will thereby be committed.

Given these two distinct scenarios, therefore, any application for bail pending appeal
should be viewed from the perspective of two stages: (1) the determination of
discretion stage, where the appellate court must determine whether any of the
circumstances in the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 is present; this will establish
whether or not the appellate court will exercise sound discretion or stringent discretion
in resolving the application for bail pending appeal and (2) the exercise of discretion
stage where, assuming the appellants case falls within the first scenario allowing the
exercise of sound discretion, the appellate court may consider all relevant
circumstances, other than those mentioned in the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule
114, including the demands of equity and justice;[27] on the basis thereof, it may either
allow or disallow bail.

On the other hand, if the appellants case falls within the second scenario, the
appellate courts stringent discretion requires that the exercise thereof be primarily
focused on the determination of the proof of the presence of any of the circumstances
that are prejudicial to the allowance of bail. This is so because the existence of any of
those circumstances is by itself sufficient to deny or revoke bail. Nonetheless, a
finding that none of the said circumstances is present will not automatically
result in the grant of bail. Such finding will simply authorize the court to use
the less stringent sound discretion approach.

Petitioner disregards the fine yet substantial distinction between the two different
situations that are governed by the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114. Instead,
petitioner insists on a simplistic treatment that unduly dilutes the import of the said
provision and trivializes the established policy governing the grant of bail pending
appeal.

In particular, a careful reading of petitioners arguments reveals that it interprets the


third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 to cover all situations where the penalty
imposed by the trial court on the appellant is imprisonment exceeding six years. For
petitioner, in such a situation, the grant of bail pending appeal is always subject to
limited discretion, that is, one restricted to the determination of whether any of
the five bail-negating circumstances exists. The implication of this position is
that, if any such circumstance is present, then bail will be denied. Otherwise, bail will be
granted pending appeal.

Petitioners theory therefore reduces the appellate court into a mere fact-finding
body whose authority is limited to determining whether any of the five circumstances
mentioned in the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 exists. This unduly constricts
its discretion into merely filling out the checklist of circumstances in the third paragraph
of Section 5, Rule 114 in all instances where the penalty imposed by the Regional Trial
Court on the appellant is imprisonment exceeding six years. In short, petitioners
interpretation severely curbs the discretion of the appellate court by requiring it to
determine a singular factual issue whether any of the five bail-negating circumstances is
present.

However, judicial discretion has been defined as choice.[28] Choice occurs where,
between two alternatives or among a possibly infinite number (of options), there is
more than one possible outcome, with the selection of the outcome left to the decision
maker.[29] On the other hand, the establishment of a clearly defined rule of action is the
end of discretion.[30] Thus, by severely clipping the appellate courts discretion and
relegating that tribunal to a mere fact-finding body in applications for bail pending
appeal in all instances where the penalty imposed by the trial court on the appellant is
imprisonment exceeding six years, petitioners theory effectively renders nugatory the
provision that upon conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not
punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, admission to bail
is discretionary.

The judicial discretion granted to the proper court (the Court of Appeals in this case) to
rule on applications for bail pending appeal must necessarily involve the exercise of
judgment on the part of the court. The court must be allowed reasonable latitude to
express its own view of the case, its appreciation of the facts and its understanding of
the applicable law on the matter.[31] In view of the grave caution required of it, the
court should consider whether or not, under all circumstances, the accused will be
present to abide by his punishment if his conviction is affirmed.[32] It should also give
due regard to any other pertinent matters beyond the record of the particular case,
such as the record, character and reputation of the applicant,[33] among other things.
More importantly, the discretion to determine allowance or disallowance of bail pending
appeal necessarily includes, at the very least, an initial determination that the appeal is
not frivolous but raises a substantial question of law or fact which must be determined
by the appellate court.[34] In other words, a threshold requirement for the grant of bail
is a showing that the appeal is not pro forma and merely intended for delay but
presents a fairly debatable issue.[35] This must be so; otherwise, the appellate courts
will be deluged with frivolous and time-wasting appeals made for the purpose of taking
advantage of a lenient attitude on bail pending appeal. Even more significantly, this
comports with the very strong presumption on appeal that the lower courts exercise of
discretionary power was sound,[36] specially since the rules on criminal procedure
require that no judgment shall be reversed or modified by the Court of Appeals except
for substantial error.[37]

Moreover, to limit the bail-negating circumstances to the five situations mentioned in


the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 is wrong. By restricting the bail-negating
circumstances to those expressly mentioned, petitioner applies
the expressio unius estexclusio alterius [38] rule in statutory construction. However, the
very language of the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 contradicts the idea that
the enumeration of the five situations therein was meant to be exclusive. The provision
categorically refers to the following or other similar circumstances. Hence, under
the rules, similarly relevant situations other than those listed in the third paragraph of
Section 5, Rule 114 may be considered in the allowance, denial or revocation of bail
pending appeal.

Finally, laws and rules should not be interpreted in such a way that leads to
unreasonable or senseless consequences. An absurd situation will result from adopting
petitioners interpretation that, where the penalty imposed by the trial court is
imprisonment exceeding six years, bail ought to be granted if none of the listed bail-
negating circumstances exists. Allowance of bail pending appeal in cases where the
penalty imposed is more than six years of imprisonment will be more lenient than in
cases where the penalty imposed does not exceed six years. While denial or revocation
of bail in cases where the penalty imposed is more than six years imprisonment must
be made only if any of the five bail-negating conditions is present, bail pending appeal
in cases where the penalty imposed does not exceed six years imprisonment may be
denied even without those conditions.

Is it reasonable and in conformity with the dictates of justice that bail pending
appeal be more accessible to those convicted of serious offenses, compared to those
convicted of less serious crimes?

PETITIONERS THEORY DEVIATES FROM HISTORY


AND EVOLUTION OF RULE ON BAIL PENDING APPEAL

Petitioners interpretation deviates from, even radically alters, the history and evolution
of the provisions on bail pending appeal.

The relevant original provisions on bail were provided under Sections 3 to 6, Rule
110 of the 1940 Rules of Criminal Procedure:

Sec. 3. Offenses less than capital before conviction by the Court of


First Instance. After judgment by a municipal judge and before conviction
by the Court of First Instance, the defendant shall be admitted to bail as
of right.

Sec. 4. Non-capital offenses after conviction by the Court of First


Instance. After conviction by the Court of First Instance, defendant may,
upon application, be bailed at the discretion of the court.

Sec. 5. Capital offense defined. A capital offense, as the term is


used in this rule, is an offense which, under the law existing at the time of
its commission, and at the time of the application to be admitted to bail,
may be punished by death.

Sec. 6. Capital offense not bailable. No person in custody for the


commission of a capital offense shall be admitted to bail if the evidence of
his guilt is strong.

The aforementioned provisions were reproduced as Sections 3 to 6, Rule 114 of


the 1964 Rules of Criminal Procedure and then of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure.
They were modified in 1988 to read as follows:
Sec. 3. Bail, a matter of right; exception. All persons in custody,
shall before final conviction be entitled to bail as a matter of right,
except those charged with a capital offense or an offense which, under
the law at the time of its commission and at the time of the application for
bail, is punishable by reclusion perpetua, when evidence of guilt is strong.

Sec. 4. Capital offense, defined. A capital offense, as the term is


used in this Rules, is an offense which, under the law existing at the time
of its commission, and at the time of the application to be admitted to
bail, may be punished by death. (emphasis supplied)

The significance of the above changes was clarified in Administrative Circular No.
2-92 dated January 20, 1992 as follows:

The basic governing principle on the right of the accused to bail is


laid down in Section 3 of Rule 114 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal
Procedure, as amended, which provides:

Sec. 3. Bail, a matter of right; exception. All persons


in custody, shall before final conviction, be entitled to bail as
a matter of right, except those charged with a capital
offense or an offense which, under the law at the time of its
commission and at the time of the application for bail, is
punishable by reclusion perpetua, when evidence of guilt is
strong.

Pursuant to the aforecited provision, an accused who is charged


with a capital offense or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua,
shall no longer be entitled to bail as a matter of right even if he appeals
the case to this Court since his conviction clearly imports that the
evidence of his guilt of the offense charged is strong.

Hence, for the guidelines of the bench and bar with respect to
future as well as pending cases before the trial courts, this Court en
banc lays down the following policies concerning the effectivity of the bail
of the accused, to wit:

1) When an accused is charged with an offense which under the


law existing at the time of its commission and at the time of the
application for bail is punishable by a penalty lower
than reclusion perpetua and is out on bail, and after trial is convicted by
the trial court of the offense charged or of a lesser offense than that
charged in the complaint or information, he may be allowed to remain
free on his original bail pending the resolution of his appeal, unless the
proper court directs otherwise pursuant to Rule 114, Sec. 2 (a) of the
Rules of Court, as amended;

2) When an accused is charged with a capital offense or an


offense which under the law at the time of its commission and at
the time of the application for bail is punishable
by reclusion perpetua and is out on bail, and after trial is
convicted by the trial court of a lesser offense than that charged
in the complaint or information, the same rule set forth in the
preceding paragraph shall be applied;

3) When an accused is charged with a capital offense or an offense


which under the law at the time of its commission and at the time of the
application for bail is punishable by reclusion perpetua and is out on bail
and after trial is convicted by the trial court of the offense charged, his
bond shall be cancelled and the accused shall be placed in confinement
pending resolution of his appeal.

As to criminal cases covered under the third rule abovecited, which


are now pending appeal before his Court where the accused is still on
provisional liberty, the following rules are laid down:

1) This Court shall order the bondsman to surrender the accused


within ten (10) days from notice to the court of origin. The
bondsman thereupon, shall inform this Court of the fact of surrender,
after which, the cancellation of the bond shall be ordered by this Court;

2) The RTC shall order the transmittal of the accused to the


National Bureau of Prisons thru the Philippine National Police as the
accused shall remain under confinement pending resolution of his appeal;

3) If the accused-appellant is not surrendered within the aforesaid


period of ten (10) days, his bond shall be forfeited and an order of arrest
shall be issued by this Court. The appeal taken by the accused shall also
be dismissed under Section 8, Rule 124 of the Revised Rules of Court as
he shall be deemed to have jumped his bail. (emphasis supplied)

Amendments were further introduced in Administrative Circular No. 12-94 dated


August 16, 1994 which brought about important changes in the said rules as follows:

SECTION 4. Bail, a matter of right. All persons in custody shall: (a)


before or after conviction by the Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial
Court, Municipal Trial Court in Cities and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, and
(b) before conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not
punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, be admitted
to bail as a matter of right, with sufficient sureties, or be released on
recognizance as prescribed by law of this Rule. (3a)

SECTION 5. Bail, when discretionary. Upon conviction by the


Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by
death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, the court, on
application, may admit the accused to bail.

The court, in its discretion, may allow the accused to continue on


provisional liberty under the same bail bond during the period of appeal
subject to the consent of the bondsman.
If the court imposed a penalty of imprisonment exceeding
six (6) years but not more than twenty (20) years, the accused
shall be denied bail, or his bail previously granted shall be
cancelled, upon a showing by the prosecution, with notice to the
accused, of the following or other similar circumstances:

(a) That the accused is a recidivist, quasi-recidivist, or


habitual delinquent, or has committed the crime
aggravated by the circumstance of reiteration;

(b) That the accused is found to have previously escaped


from legal confinement, evaded sentence or has violated
the conditions of his bail without valid justification;

(c) That the accused committed the offense while on


probation, parole, under conditional pardon;

(d) That the circumstances of the accused or his case


indicate the probability of flight if released on bail; or

(e) That there is undue risk that during the pendency of the
appeal, the accused may commit another crime.

The appellate court may review the resolution of the Regional Trial
Court, on motion and with notice to the adverse party. (n)

SECTION 6. Capital offense, defined. A capital offense, as the term


is used in these Rules, is an offense which, under the law existing at the
time of its commission and at the time of the application to be admitted to
bail, maybe punished with death. (4)
SECTION 7. Capital offense or an offense punishable by
reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, not bailable. No person charged
with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or
life imprisonment, when evidence of guilt is strong, shall be admitted to
bail regardless of the stage of the criminal prosecution.
(emphasis supplied)

The above amendments of Administrative Circular No. 12-94 to Rule 114 were
thereafter amended by A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC to read as they do now.
The development over time of these rules reveals an orientation towards a more
restrictive approach to bail pending appeal. It indicates a faithful adherence to the
bedrock principle, that is, bail pending appeal should be allowed not with leniency but
with grave caution and only for strong reasons.

The earliest rules on the matter made all grants of bail after conviction for a non-
capital offense by the Court of First Instance (predecessor of the Regional Trial Court)
discretionary. The 1988 amendments made applications for bail pending appeal
favorable to the appellant-applicant. Bail before final conviction in trial courts for non-
capital offenses or offenses not punishable by reclusion perpetua was a matter of right,
meaning, admission to bail was a matter of right at any stage of the action where the
charge was not for a capital offense or was not punished by reclusion perpetua.[39]

The amendments introduced by Administrative Circular No. 12-94 made bail


pending appeal (of a conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable
by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment) discretionary. Thus, Administrative
Circular No. 12-94 laid down more stringent rules on the matter of post-conviction grant
of bail.

A.M. No. 00-5-03-SC modified Administrative Circular No. 12-94 by clearly


identifying which court has authority to act on applications for bail pending appeal
under certain conditions and in particular situations. More importantly, it reiterated the
tough on bail pending appeal configuration of Administrative Circular No. 12-94. In
particular, it amended Section 3 of the 1988 Rules on Criminal Procedure which entitled
the accused to bail as a matter of right before final conviction.[40] Under the present
rule, bail is a matter of discretion upon conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an
offense not punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. Indeed,
pursuant to the tough on bail pending appeal policy, the presence of bail-negating
conditions mandates the denial or revocation of bail pending appeal such that those
circumstances are deemed to be as grave as conviction by the trial court for an offense
punishable by death, reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment where bail is prohibited.

Now, what is more in consonance with a stringent standards approach to bail pending
appeal? What is more in conformity with an ex abundante cautelam view of bail
pending appeal? Is it a rule which favors the automatic grant of bail in the absence of
any of the circumstances under the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114? Or is it a
rule that authorizes the denial of bail after due consideration of all relevant
circumstances, even if none of the circumstances under the third paragraph of Section
5, Rule 114 is present?

The present inclination of the rules on criminal procedure to frown on bail


pending appeal parallels the approach adopted in the United States where our original
constitutional and procedural provisions on bail emanated.[41] While this is of course not
to be followed blindly, it nonetheless shows that our treatment of bail pending appeal is
no different from that in other democratic societies.
In our jurisdiction, the trend towards a strict attitude towards the allowance of
bail pending appeal is anchored on the principle that judicial discretion particularly with
respect to extending bail should be exercised not with laxity but with caution and only
for strong reasons.[42] In fact, it has even been pointed out that grave caution that must
attend the exercise of judicial discretion in granting bail to a convicted accused is best
illustrated and exemplified in Administrative Circular No. 12-94 amending Rule 114,
Section 5.[43]

Furthermore, this Court has been guided by the following:

The importance attached to conviction is due to the underlying


principle that bail should be granted only where it is uncertain whether
the accused is guilty or innocent, and therefore, where that uncertainty is
removed by conviction it would, generally speaking, be absurd to admit to
bail. After a person has been tried and convicted the presumption
of innocence which may be relied upon in prior applications is
rebutted, and the burden is upon the accused to show error in
the conviction. From another point of view it may be properly argued
that the probability of ultimate punishment is so enhanced by the
conviction that the accused is much more likely to attempt to escape if
liberated on bail than before conviction.[44] (emphasis supplied)

As a matter of fact, endorsing the reasoning quoted above and relying thereon,
the Court declared in Yap v. Court of Appeals[45] (promulgated in 2001 when the
present rules were already effective), that denial of bail pending appeal is a matter
of wise discretion.

A FINAL WORD

Section 13, Article II of the Constitution provides:


SEC. 13. All persons, except those charged with offenses
punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong,
shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released
on recognizance as may be provided by law. x x x (emphasis supplied)

After conviction by the trial court, the presumption of innocence terminates and,
accordingly, the constitutional right to bail ends.[46] From then on, the grant of bail is
subject to judicial discretion. At the risk of being repetitious, such discretion must be
exercised with grave caution and only for strong reasons. Considering that the accused
was in fact convicted by the trial court, allowance of bail pending appeal should be
guided by a stringent-standards approach. This judicial disposition finds strong support
in the history and evolution of the rules on bail and the language of Section 5, Rule 114
of the Rules of Court. It is likewise consistent with the trial courts initial determination
that the accused should be in prison. Furthermore, letting the accused out on bail
despite his conviction may destroy the deterrent effect of our criminal laws. This is
especially germane to bail pending appeal because long delays often separate
sentencing in the trial court and appellate review. In addition, at the post-conviction
stage, the accused faces a certain prison sentence and thus may be more likely to flee
regardless of bail bonds or other release conditions. Finally, permitting bail too freely in
spite of conviction invites frivolous and time-wasting appeals which will make a mockery
of our criminal justice system and court processes.

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED.

The Court of Appeals is hereby directed to resolve and decide, on the merits, the
appeal of petitioner Jose Antonio Levistedocketed as CA-G.R. CR No. 32159, with
dispatch.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

[G.R. No. 129670. February 1, 2000]


MANOLET O. LAVIDES, petitioner, vs. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS; HON.
ROSALINA L. LUNA PISON, Judge Presiding over Branch 107, RTC, Quezon
City; and PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
Petitioner Manolet Lavides was arrested on April 3, 1997 for child abuse under R.A. No.
7610 (an act providing for stronger deterrence and special protection against child
abuse, exploitation and discrimination, providing penalties for its violation, and other
purposes). His arrest was made without a warrant as a result of an entrapment
conducted by the police. It appears that on April 3, 1997, the parents of complainant
Lorelie San Miguel reported to the police that their daughter, then 16 years old, had
been contacted by petitioner for an assignation that night at petitioners room at the
Metropolitan Hotel in Diliman, Quezon City. Apparently, this was not the first time the
police received reports of petitioners activities. An entrapment operation was therefore
set in motion. At around 8:20 in the evening of April 3, 1997, the police knocked at the
door of Room 308 of the Metropolitan Hotel where petitioner was staying. When
petitioner opened the door, the police saw him with Lorelie, who was wearing only a t-
shirt and an underwear, whereupon they arrested him. Based on the sworn statement
of complainant and the affidavits of the arresting officers, which were submitted at the
inquest, an information for violation of Art. III, 5(b) of R.A. No. 7610 was filed on April
7, 1997 against petitioner in the Regional Trial Court, Quezon City, where it was
docketed as Criminal Case No. Q-97-70550. Edp
On April 10, 1997, petitioner filed an "Omnibus Motion (1) For Judicial Determination of
Probable Cause; (2) For the Immediate Release of the Accused Unlawfully Detained on
an Unlawful Warrantless Arrest; and (3) In the Event of Adverse Resolution of the A
bove Incident, Herein Accused be Allowed to Bail as a Matter of Right under the Law on
Which He is Charged."[1]
On April 29, 1997, nine more informations for child abuse were filed against petitioner
by the same complainant, Lorelie San Miguel, and by three other minor children, Mary
Ann Tardesilla, Jennifer Catarman, and Annalyn Talingting. The cases were docketed as
Criminal Case Nos. Q-97-70866 to Q-97-70874. In all the cases, it was alleged that, on
various dates mentioned in the informations, petitioner had sexual intercourse with
complainants who had been "exploited in prostitution and . . . given money [by
petitioner] as payment for the said [acts of] sexual intercourse."
No bail was recommended. Nonetheless, petitioner filed separate applications for bail in
the nine cases.
On May 16, 1997, the trial court issued an order resolving petitioners Omnibus Motion,
as follows:
WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, this Court finds that:
1. In Crim. Case No. Q-97-70550, there is probable cause to hold the
accused under detention, his arrest having been made in accordance with
the Rules. He must therefore remain under detention until further order of
this Court;
2. The accused is entitled to bail in all the above-entitled case. He is
hereby granted the right to post bail in the amount of P80,000.00 for each
case or a total of P800,000.00 for all the cases under the following
conditions:
a) The accused shall not be entitled to a waiver of appearance during the
trial of these cases. He shall and must always be present at the hearings
of these cases;
b) In the event that he shall not be able to do so, his bail bonds shall be
automatically cancelled and forfeited, warrants for his arrest shall be
immediately issued and the cases shall proceed to trial in absentia;
c) The hold-departure Order of this Court dated April 10, 1997 stands;
and
d) Approval of the bail bonds shall be made only after the arraignment to
enable this Court to immediately acquire jurisdiction over the accused;
3. Let these cases be set for arraignment on May 23, 1997 at 8:30 oclock
in the morning.[2]
On May 20, 1997, petitioner filed a motion to quash the informations against him,
except those filed in Criminal Case No. Q-97-70550 or Q-97-70866. Pending resolution
of his motion, he asked the trial court to suspend the arraignment scheduled on May
23, 1997.[3] Then on May 22, 1997, he filed a motion in which he prayed that the
amounts of bail bonds be reduced to P40,000.00 for each case and that the same be
done prior to his arraignment.[4] Misedp
On May 23, 1997, the trial court, in separate orders, denied petitioners motions to
reduce bail bonds, to quash the informations, and to suspend arraignment. Accordingly,
petitioner was arraigned during which he pleaded not guilty to the charges against him
and then ordered him released upon posting bail bonds in the total amount of
P800,000.00, subject to the conditions in the May 16, 1997 order and the "hold-
departure" order of April 10, 1997. The pre-trial conference was set on June 7, 1997.
On June 2, 1997, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari (CA-G.R. SP No. 44316) in the
Court of Appeals, assailing the trial courts order, dated May 16, 1997, and its two
orders, dated May 23, 1997, denying his motion to quash and maintaining the
conditions set forth in its order of May 16, 1997, respectively.
While the case was pending in the Court of Appeals, two more informations were filed
against petitioner, bringing the total number of cases against him to 12, which were all
consolidated.
On June 30, 1997, the Court of Appeals rendered its decision, the dispositive portion of
which reads:
WHEREFORE, considering that the conditions imposed under Nos. 2-a)
and 2-b),[5] of the May 23 (should be May 16), 1997 Order, are separable,
and would not affect the cash bond which petitioner posted for his
provisional liberty, with the sole modification that those aforesaid
conditions are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE, the May 16, May 23 and
May 23, 1997 Orders are MAINTAINED in all other respects.[6] Misoedp
The appellate court invalidated the first two conditions imposed in the May 16, 1997
order for the grant of bail to petitioner but ruled that the issue concerning the validity
of the condition making arraignment a prerequisite for the approval of petitioners bail
bonds to be moot and academic. It noted "that petitioner has posted the cash bonds;
that when arraigned, represented by lawyers, he pleaded not guilty to each offense;
and that he has already been released from detention." The Court of Appeals thought
that the aforesaid conditions in the May 16, 1997 order were contrary to Art. III, 14(2)
of the Constitution which provides that "[a]fter arraignment, trial may proceed
notwithstanding the absence of the accused provided that he has been duly notified
and his failure to appear is unjustifiable."
With respect to the denial of petitioners motion to quash the informations against him,
the appellate court held that petitioner could not question the same in a petition for
certiorari before it, but what he must do was to go to trial and to reiterate the grounds
of his motion to quash on appeal should the decision be adverse to him.
Hence this petition. Petitioner contends that the Court of Appeals erred[7] __
1.......In ruling that the condition imposed by respondent Judge that the
approval of petitioners bail bonds "shall be made only after his
arraignment" is of no moment and has been rendered moot and academic
by the fact that he had already posted the bail bonds and had pleaded not
guilty to all the offenses;
2.......In not resolving the submission that the arraignment was void not
only because it was made under compelling circumstance which left
petitioner no option to question the respondent Judges arbitrary action
but also because it emanated from a void Order;
3.......In ruling that the denial of petitioners motion to quash may not be
impugned in a petition for certiorari; and
4.......In not resolving the legal issue of whether or not petitioner may be
validly charged for violation of Section 5(b) of RA No. 7610 under several
informations corresponding to the number of alleged acts of child abuse
allegedly committed against each private complainant by the petitioner.
We will deal with each of these contentions although not in the order in which they are
stated by petitioner.
First. As already stated, the trial courts order, dated May 16, 1997, imposed four
conditions for the grant of bail to petitioner:
a) The accused shall not be entitled to a waiver of appearance during the
trial of these cases. He shall and must always be present at the hearings
of these cases;
b) In the event that he shall not be able to do so, his bail bonds shall be
automatically cancelled and forfeited, warrants for his arrest shall be
immediately issued and the cases shall proceed to trial in absentia;
c) The hold-departure Order of this Court dated April 10, 1997 stands;
and Edpmis
d) Approval of the bail bonds shall be made only after the arraignment to
enable this Court to immediately acquire jurisdiction over the accused;
The Court of Appeals declared conditions (a) and (b) invalid but declined to pass upon
the validity of condition (d) on the ground that the issue had become moot and
academic. Petitioner takes issue with the Court of Appeals with respect to its treatment
of condition (d) of the May 16, 1997 order of the trial court which makes petitioners
arraignment a prerequisite to the approval of his bail bonds. His contention is that this
condition is void and that his arraignment was also invalid because it was held pursuant
to such invalid condition.
We agree with petitioner that the appellate court should have determined the validity of
the conditions imposed in the trial courts order of May 16, 1997 for the grant of bail
because petitioners contention is that his arraignment was held in pursuance of these
conditions for bail.
In requiring that petitioner be first arraigned before he could be granted bail, the trial
court apprehended that if petitioner were released on bail he could, by being absent,
prevent his early arraignment and thereby delay his trial until the complainants got tired
and lost interest in their cases. Hence, to ensure his presence at the arraignment,
approval of petitioners bail bonds should be deferred until he could be arraigned. After
that, even if petitioner does not appear, trial can proceed as long as he is notified of the
date of hearing and his failure to appear is unjustified, since under Art. III, 14(2) of the
Constitution, trial in absentia is authorized. This seems to be the theory of the trial
court in its May 16, 1997 order conditioning the grant of bail to petitioner on his
arraignment.
This theory is mistaken. In the first place, as the trial court itself acknowledged, in
cases where it is authorized, bail should be granted before arraignment, otherwise the
accused may be precluded from filing a motion to quash. For if the information is
quashed and the case is dismissed, there would then be no need for the arraignment of
the accused. In the second place, the trial court could ensure the presence of petitioner
at the arraignment precisely by granting bail and ordering his presence at any stage of
the proceedings, such as arraignment. Under Rule 114, 2(b) of the Rules on Criminal
Procedure, one of the conditions of bail is that "the accused shall appear before the
proper court whenever so required by the court or these Rules," while under Rule 116,
1(b) the presence of the accused at the arraignment is required.
On the other hand, to condition the grant of bail to an accused on his arraignment
would be to place him in a position where he has to choose between (1) filing a motion
to quash and thus delay his release on bail because until his motion to quash can be
resolved, his arraignment cannot be held, and (2) foregoing the filing of a motion to
quash so that he can be arraigned at once and thereafter be released on bail. These
scenarios certainly undermine the accuseds constitutional right not to be put on trial
except upon valid complaint or information sufficient to charge him with a crime and his
right to bail.[8]
It is the condition in the May 16, 1997 order of the trial court that "approval of the bail
bonds shall be made only after arraignment," which the Court of Appeals should instead
have declared void. The condition imposed in the trial courts order of May 16, 1997 that
the accused cannot waive his appearance at the trial but that he must be present at the
hearings of the case is valid and is in accordance with Rule 114. For another condition
of bail under Rule 114, 2(c) is that "The failure of the accused to appear at the trial
without justification despite due notice to him or his bondsman shall be deemed an
express waiver of his right to be present on the date specified in the notice. In such
case, trial shall proceed in absentia." Jjsc
Art. III, 14(2) of the Constitution authorizing trials in absentia allows the accused to be
absent at the trial but not at certain stages of the proceedings, to wit: (a) at
arraignment and plea, whether of innocence or of guilt,[9] (b) during trial whenever
necessary for identification purposes,[10] and (c) at the promulgation of sentence, unless
it is for a light offense, in which case the accused may appear by counsel or
representative.[11] At such stages of the proceedings, his presence is required and
cannot be waived. As pointed out in Borja v. Mendoza,[12] in an opinion by Justice, later
Chief Justice, Enrique Fernando, there can be no trial in absentia unless the accused
has been arraigned.
Undoubtedly, the trial court knew this. Petitioner could delay the proceedings by
absenting himself from the arraignment. But once he is arraigned, trial could proceed
even in his absence. So it thought that to ensure petitioners presence at the
arraignment, petitioner should be denied bail in the meantime. The fly in the ointment,
however, is that such court strategy violates petitioners constitutional rights.
Second. Although this condition is invalid, it does not follow that the arraignment of
petitioner on May 23, 1997 was also invalid. Contrary to petitioners contention, the
arraignment did not emanate from the invalid condition that "approval of the bail bonds
shall be made only after the arraignment." Even without such a condition, the
arraignment of petitioner could not be omitted. In sum, although the condition for the
grant of bail to petitioner is invalid, his arraignment and the subsequent proceedings
against him are valid.
Third. Petitioner concedes that the rule is that the remedy of an accused whose motion
to quash is denied is not to file a petition for certiorari but to proceed to trial without
prejudice to his right to reiterate the grounds invoked in his motion to quash during trial
on the merits or on appeal if an adverse judgment is rendered against him. However,
he argues that this case should be treated as an exception. He contends that the Court
of Appeals should not have evaded the issue of whether he should be charged under
several informations corresponding to the number of acts of child abuse allegedly
committed by him against each of the complainants.
In Tano v. Salvador,[13] the Court, while holding that certiorari will not lie from a denial
of a motion to quash, nevertheless recognized that there may be cases where there are
special circumstances clearly demonstrating the inadequacy of an appeal. In such
cases, the accused may resort to the appellate court to raise the issue decided against
him. This is such a case. Whether petitioner is liable for just one crime regardless of the
number of sexual acts allegedly committed by him and the number of children with
whom he had sexual intercourse, or whether each act of intercourse constitutes one
crime is a question that bears on the presentation of evidence by either party. It is
important to petitioner as well as to the prosecution how many crimes there are. For
instance, if there is only one offense of sexual abuse regardless of the number of
children involved, it will not matter much to the prosecution whether it is able to
present only one of the complainants. On the other hand, if each act of sexual
intercourse with a child constitutes a separate offense, it will matter whether the other
children are presented during the trial. Scjj
The issue then should have been decided by the Court of Appeals. However, instead of
remanding this case to the appellate court for a determination of this issue, we will
decide the issue now so that the trial in the court below can proceed without further
delay.
Petitioners contention is that the 12 informations filed against him allege only one
offense of child abuse, regardless of the number of alleged victims (four) and the
number of acts of sexual intercourse committed with them (twelve). He argues that the
act of sexual intercourse is only a means of committing the offense so that the acts of
sexual intercourse/lasciviousness with minors attributed to him should not be subject of
separate informations. He cites the affidavits of the alleged victims which show that
their involvement with him constitutes an "unbroken chain of events," i.e.,the first
victim was the one who introduced the second to petitioner and so on. Petitioner says
that child abuse is similar to the crime of large-scale illegal recruitment where there is
only a single offense regardless of the number of workers illegally recruited on different
occasions. In the alternative, he contends that, at the most, only four informations,
corresponding to the number of alleged child victims, can be filed against him.
Art. III, 5 of R.A. No. 7160 under which petitioner is being prosecuted, provides:
Sec. 5 Child Prostitution and Other Sexual Abuse. __ Children, whether
male or female, who for money, profit, or any other consideration or due
to the coercion or influence of any adult, syndicate or group, indulge in
sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be children
exploited in prostitution and other sexual abuse.
The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period to reclusion
perpetua shall be imposed upon the following:
....
(b) Those who commit the act of sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct
with a child exploited in prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse.
The elements of the offense are as follows: (1) the accused commits the act of sexual
intercourse or lascivious conduct; (2) that said act is performed with a child exploited in
prostitution or subjected to other sexual abuse; and (3) the child,[14] whether male or
female, is or is deemed under 18 years of age. Exploitation in prostitution or other
sexual abuse occurs when the child indulges in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct
(a) for money, profit, or any other consideration; or (b) under the coercion or influence
of any adult, syndicate, or group.
Each incident of sexual intercourse and lascivious act with a child under the
circumstances mentioned in Art. III, 5 of R.A. No. 7160 is thus a separate and distinct
offense. The offense is similar to rape or act of lasciviousness under the Revised Penal
Code in which each act of rape or lascivious conduct should be the subject of a
separate information. This conclusion is confirmed by Art. III, 5(b) of R.A. No. 7160,
which provides:
[t]hat when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age, the perpetrators
shall be prosecuted under Article 335, paragraph 3, for rape and Article
336 of Act No. 3815, as amended, the Revised Penal Code, for rape or
lascivious conduct, as the case may be: Provided, That the penalty for
lascivious conduct when the victim is under twelve (12) years of age shall
be reclusion temporal in its medium period;
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is SET ASIDE and another one is
RENDERED declaring the orders dated May 16, 1997 and May 23, 1997 of the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 107, Quezon City to be valid, with the exception of condition (d) in
the second paragraph of the order of May 16, 1997 (making arraignment a prerequisite
to the grant of bail to petitioner), which is hereby declared void.
SO ORDERED. Sjcj

[G.R. Nos. 70746-47. September 1, 1992.]

BIENVENIDO O. MARCOS, Petitioner, v. HON. FERNANDO S. RUIZ, RTC Judge,


7th Judicial Region, Tagbilaran City, and THE PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, Respondents.

Carlos A. Marcos for Petitioner.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; CRIMINAL PROCEDURE; MOTION TO DISMISS; MAY BE RESOLVED


AFTER ARRAIGNMENT. — All the parties agree that the 12 November 1984 Motion to
Dismiss was not resolved by the trial court. Respondent Judge asserts that the
petitioner is estopped from questioning the inaction on this motion because he
voluntarily appeared at his arraignment, entered a plea and agreed to the scheduling of
the case for trial on the merits; besides, the Prosecution, by presenting its evidence, is
deemed to have abandoned the motion. While the first proposition is incorrect, the
second is inaccurate. Estoppel does not operate in the present case for the motion may
still be resolved after the arraignment; by its nature, it may be filed by the prosecution
at any time. As a matter of fact, had the petitioner not signed his conformity thereto, it
would have been to his benefit or advantage that the motion be resolved after his plea
for, by then, if the same is granted, the Prosecution would be precluded from refiling
the case on the ground of double jeopardy.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ACTION ON MOTIONS MUST BE UNEQUIVOCAL AND NOT BE LEFT TO
CONJECTURE. — The manifestation and withdrawal of the motion (to dismiss) were
made in the presence of the accused and his counsel; neither of them objected thereto
for they knew too well that they had no legal basis therefor. The only flaw in this regard
is the respondent Judge’s failure to explicitly make a ruling on the oral motion. He
merely granted the motion impliedly by immediately directing the arraignment of the
accused. He should have taken the trouble of making an unequivocal ruling thereon by
simply stating: "Motion is granted; the motion to dismiss is considered withdrawn. All
right, arraign the accused." The demands of orderly procedure require that a judge of a
court of record must ensure that actions on motions must not be left to conjecture but
must, in a manner of speaking, be done in black and white.

3. ID.; ID.; HEARING IN ABSENTIA, PROPER. — Having failed to appear on 8 April 1985
despite due notice, and considering that on said date the urgent motion for resetting
had not yet been received by the court, respondent Judge could not be faulted for
believing that petitioner’s non-appearance was unjustified. Hence, a hearing in absentia
was proper under the aforequoted provision of the Constitution and Sections 2(c) and
1(c) of Rules 114 and 115, respectively, of the Rules of Court.

4. ID.; ID.; BAILBOND; FORFEITURE. — A bail bond may be forfeited only in instances
where the presence of the accused is specifically required by the court or the Rules of
Court and, despite due notice to the bondsmen to produce him before the court on a
given date, the accused fails to appear in person as so required. There is no showing
that the court had specifically required the bonding company to produce the body of
the petitioner on 8 and 9 April 1985. Moreover, since Criminal Cases Nos. 3890 and
3892, which involve two (2) checks with a face value of P3,000.00 each, were merely
for the violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 which imposes a penalty of "imprisonment
of not less than thirty (30) days but not more than one (1) year or by a fine of not less
than but not more than double the amount of the check which fine shall in no case
exceed Two Hundred Thousand Pesos, or both such fine and imprisonment at the
discretion of the court," the presence of the accused at the hearing on 8 and 9 April
1985 was not indispensable.

5. ID.; ID.; ARRAIGNMENT; ACCUSED REQUIRED TO PERSONALLY ENTER HIS PLEA. —


It will, however, be noted that insofar as the second case, Criminal Case No. 3892, is
concerned, the court made no ruling on the manifestation and offer by petitioner’s
counsel that the reading of the information be waived and a plea of not guilty be
entered. The petitioner was neither made to confirm the manifestation nor directed to
personally make the plea. There was, therefore, no valid arraignment in Criminal Case
No. 3892. Section 1(b), Rule 116 of the Rules of Court, as amended, requires the
accused to personally enter his plea.

6. ID.; ID.; MOTION FOR POSTPONEMENT; COUNSEL BOUND TO GIVE PRIORITY TO


HEARING SET ON AGREED DATE. — The motion to reset the hearing was a mere
subterfuge to obtain a postponement of and delay the proceedings. Petitioner and his
counsel were notified in open court about the 8 and 9 April 1985 hearing on 7 February
1985. Having agreed to that setting, counsel in effect certified that he had no prior
commitment on those dates and he was thereby bound to give priority to the same,
unless events of greater importance or of a more serious nature requiring his presence,
supervened.

7. ID.; ID.; ID.; GRANTING IN CRIMINAL CASE IS LEFT TO SOUND DISCRETION OF


COURT. — Counsel for petitioner should not have presumed that the motion, which he
prepared and sent by registered mail only on 29 March 1989, would reach the court and
be granted before 8 April 1985. He knew, or ought to know that the granting of
motions for postponement in criminal cases is left to the sound discretion of the Court
— a rule which has been steadfastly adhered to since United States v. Lorenzana and
which this Court more explicitly expressed in Unites States v. Ramirez.
8. ID.; ID.; ID.; A MERE SCRAP OF PAPER WHERE NOTICE OF HEARING IS LACKING.
— The urgent motion for resetting was a mere scrap of paper. As earlier noted, it does
not contain a notice of hearing to the Prosecution; all it had was a mere request,
addressed to the Clerk of Court, that it be submitted for the consideration and approval
of the court immediately upon his receipt thereof. There was, therefore, a clear
violation of Section 5, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court, which is also applicable in motions
for continuance in criminal case.

9. ID.; ID.; WHEN NON-APPEARANCE OF ACCUSED CONSIDERED A WAIVER. — With


respect to an accused who is not in custody, his non-appearance constitutes a waiver of
his right to be present only for the trial set for the particular date of which he had
notice. Upon the other hand, such non-appearance by an accused in custody and who
later escapes is considered a waiver of the right on such date and all subsequent trial
dates until such custody is regained.

10. ID.; LAWYER-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP; A CLIENT IS BOUND BY THE ACTS OF HIS


COUNSEL. — A client is bound by the acts, even mistakes of his counsel in the realm of
procedural technique; however, if the former is prejudiced by the latter’s negligence or
misconduct, he may recover damages.

DECISION

DAVIDE, JR., J.:

In this special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, petitioner
seeks to set aside, for being null and void, the Orders of respondent Judge of 8 April
1985 which considered the failure of petitioner and his counsel to appear on that date
as a waiver of the right to present evidence, and of 29 April 1985 denying petitioner’s
motion for the reconsideration of said order in Criminal Cases No. 3890 and No. 3892.

The facts are not complicated.

On 2 August 1984, after conducting the appropriate preliminary investigation, Acting


2nd Assistant City Fiscal Lorenzo A. Lopena of the City of Tagbilaran filed with the
Regional Trial Court of Bohol two (2) informations against petitioner herein for violating
Batas Pambansa Blg. 22; said violations allegedly took place on 5 July 1983 in the City
of Tagbilaran when the petitioner, knowing fully well that he did not have sufficient
funds deposited with the Far Fast Bank and Trust Company (Cebu North Proclamation
Area Branch), delivered to Fulgencia Oculam, in payment for assorted pieces of jewelry
taken by petitioner’s wife Anacleta Marcos, two (2) checks drawn against said bank in
the amount of P3,000.00 each. The informations were docketed as Criminal Cases No.
3890 1 and No. 3892 2 and were raffled to Branch II of said court. The petitioner
posted a surety bond for his temporary liberty.chanrobles.com.ph : virtual law library

The arraignment was set for 12 November 1984. The petitioner appeared on that date
but asked for a resetting on the ground that his lawyer had just withdrawn and he had
to look for another lawyer. The court granted his request and the arraignment was
reset to 29 November 1984. 3

It turned out, however, that petitioner settled his obligation with the offended party
who, on 3 November 1984, executed an Affidavit of Desistance which she subscribed
and swore to before Notary Public Paulino G. Clarin. Pertinent portions thereof
read:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
x x x

"2. That upon my instance, I requested that the cases be remanded to the City Fiscal
for reinvestigation but which motion was denied;

3. That meanwhile, the respondent settled all his obligations subject matter of the
present cases;

4. That under the circumstances, I possess no ground to further proceed with the
prosecution of the cases;

5. That I am willing to have cases dismissed with the consent of the respondent or
accused, as I hereby desist from further proceeding with the case;

6. That this affidavit of desistance may be utilized by the City Fiscal of the City of
Tagbilaran for the dismissal of the cases." 4
x x x

At 10:00 o’clock in the morning of 12 November 1984, Acting 2nd Assistant City Fiscal
Lopena filed a Motion to Dismiss Criminal Case No. 3892 on the
ground:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1. That the complaining witness in this case has turned hostile and shown manifest
lack of interest to prosecute the above-entitled case as evidenced by his (sic) Affidavit
of Desistance, which is hereto attached as Annex "A" and is made an integral part
hereof;

2. That without the testimony of said complaining witness, the above-entitled case
cannot be prosecuted successfully, there being no other evidence of hand to prove the
guilt of the accused." 5

The motion bears the approval of Acting 1st Assistant City Fiscal Miguel Relampagos
who acted for the Acting City Fiscal because of the latter’s absence, and the consent of
petitioner. It also contains the request of the movant fiscal addressed to the Clerk of
Court that the same be set for resolution of the court "upon receipt hereof." chanrobles
law library

When the cases were called on 29 November 1984, neither petitioner nor his counsel
appeared; however, the court received a telegram from petitioner’s wife. Lita Marcos,
advising the court that the petitioner was indisposed. Without any objection on the part
of the prosecution, the court cancelled the arraignment on that date and re-scheduled
the same, together with the trial, for 7 and 8 February 1985. 6

On 7 February 1985, the petitioner appeared together with his counsel de parte, Atty.
Carlos Marcos. He was arraigned in both cases; he entered a plea of not guilty.
Forthwith, the court set the trial of the cases for 8 April 1985 at 2:30 P.M. and 9 April
1985 at 8:30 A.M. The petitioner, his counsel and the Assistant City Fiscal were notified
in open court of the setting. 7

When the cases were called in the afternoon of 8 April 1985, neither petitioner nor
counsel appeared. The prosecution presented its evidence ex-parte and rested its case.
The court then issued an Order 8 forfeiting the bond posted by the petitioner, directing
Paramount Insurance Corp., the bondsman, to show cause, within thirty (30) days form
notice, why no judgment should be issued against the bond and declaring that as no
evidence has been submitted by the petitioner, the cases were deemed submitted for
decision.

On 9 April 1985, the trial court received an urgent motion for the resetting of the
hearing filed by counsel for the petitioner. 9 The motion, sent by registered mail and
dated 29 March 1985, alleges:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1. That undersigned counsel has a previous legal commitment in Manila needing his
personal attention;

2. That it would be physically impossible for him to arrive on time for the hearing of the
above-entitled case;

3. That because of this unavoidable circumstances (sic) he is constrained to pray for


their (sic) resetting." 10

and prays that the hearing of the cases be reset to 13 and 14 May 1985 at 2:30 P.M.
and 8:30 A.M., respectively. This motion does not contain a notice of hearing to the
Prosecuting Fiscal but a mere request addressed to the Branch Clerk of Court
reading:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Please submit the foregoing motion for the consideration and approval of this
Honorable Court immediately upon receipt hereof."cralaw virtua1aw library

On 23 April 1985, petitioner’s counsel filed a "Motion for Reconsideration to (sic) Order"
dated 8 April 1985. 11 In justifying petitioner’s failure to appear at the hearing on 8
April 1985, counsel contends:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"THAT in view of the said motion [for resetting of hearing] the accused, in good faith,
believed that the hearing set on April 8, 1985 would not proceed and his presence
would thus be unnecessary; that to save money for fare and meals in a trip to
Tagbilaran City from Cebu City, and vice versa, the accused who is a government
employee did not anymore attend the hearing which he believed was cancelled on
account of the motion aforementioned;

THAT the accused likewise believed that aside from the motion for postponement, the
pendency of the Motion to Dismiss filed by the prosecuting fiscal, Lorenzo A. Lopena, in
view of complaining ‘witness’ Affidavit of Desistance, this Honorable Court would not
proceed to receive the evidence of the prosecution. In fact, up to the present, the
aforementioned Motion to Dismiss dated November 12, 1984 has not been acted upon
by this Honorable Court;chanrobles.com.ph : virtual law library

THAT the non-appearance of the accused in the scheduled trial is not a sufficient
ground for the cancellation of the bailbond because his failure could still be considered
as a waiver of his presence.

THAT it is the stand of the undersigned counsel that the motion to dismiss by the
prosecuting fiscal be first resolved before this Honorable Court could proceed with the
further proceeding of this case. Let it be stressed that the accused was arraigned by
this Honorable Court over the objection of the accused AFTER the Motion to Dismiss
was filed by the prosecution and BEFORE it was, as it still is, resolved which could be a
denial or granting (sic) thereof, which to the undersigned does not matter as long as it
is acted upon."cralaw virtua1aw library

Once again, the motion does not contain a notice of hearing to the prosecuting fiscal; it
has instead a mere request that the Clerk of Court submit it for the consideration of the
court immediately upon his receipt thereof.

On 29 April 1985, the court issued an Order 12 denying the aforesaid motion for
reconsideration on the following grounds: that the petitioner should not assume that
the motion for postponement would be granted; he is estopped from insisting on a
ruling on the motion to dismiss because he agreed to be arraigned, pleaded not guilty
and did not question the scheduling of the cases for trial; and the presentation by the
Prosecution of its evidence amounted to an abandonment of its motion to dismiss.

On 3 May 1985, a Notice of Promulgation setting the promulgation of sentence in the


two (2) cases to 17 May 1985 was sent to the parties by Antonio R. Monungol, 13 the
Research Attorney of Branch II of the court below.

Hence, this petition which was filed on 14 May 1985 and is anchored on and raises the
principal issue of the alleged denial of petitioner’s right to confront the witnesses for the
prosecution and to be heard. Corollarily, petitioner submits that respondent Judge erred
in not acting upon the motion to dismiss before setting the arraignment of the accused
and receiving the People’s evidence.

On 16 May 1985, this Court resolved to require the respondents to comment on the
petition and to issue a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining respondent Judge from
promulgating the judgment in Criminal Cases Nos. 3890 and 3892.

Respondent Judge filed his Comment 14 by mail on 30 May 1985. He maintains that
petitioner voluntarily submitted to the arraignment and was not denied due process. On
the other hand, Acting 2nd Assistant City Fiscal Lopena mailed his Comment on 8 June
1985. 15 The Office of the Solicitor General filed its Comment on 6 September 1985, 16
and asserts therein that the Order in question is interlocutory and hence, not
appealable; respondent Judge acted in accordance with law and sound discretion in
issuing the orders; and petitioner was not denied his day in court.

On 28 October 1985, petitioner mailed his Joint Reply to the Comments.

On 27 November 1985, this Court resolved to give due course to the petition, consider
the Comments as Answer and require the parties to file their respective Memoranda,
which they subsequently complied with.

The issues to be resolved in this petition are whether or not the respondent Court
committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or absence of jurisdiction
in:chanrobles virtual lawlibrary

(1) ordering the arraignment of the accused and receiving the evidence for the
prosecution without first resolving the motion to dismiss;

(2) ordering the forfeiture of the bail bond when petitioner failed to appear on 8 April
1985; allowing the Prosecution to present its evidence ex parte and declaring the
petitioner as having waived his right to present his evidence; and

(3) denying the motion to reconsider the Order of 8 April 1985 and setting the
promulgation of judgment on 17 May 1985.
1. All the parties agree that the 12 November 1984 Motion to Dismiss was not resolved
by the trial court. Respondent Judge asserts that the petitioner is estopped from
questioning the inaction on this motion because he voluntarily appeared at his
arraignment, entered a plea and agreed to the scheduling of the case for trial on the
merits; besides, the Prosecution, by presenting its evidence, is deemed to have
abandoned the motion. While the first proposition is incorrect, the second is inaccurate.
Estoppel does not operate in the present case for the motion may still be resolved after
the arraignment; by its nature, it may be filed by the prosecution at any time. As a
matter of fact, had the petitioner not signed his conformity thereto, it would have been
to his benefit or advantage that the motion be resolved after his plea for, by then, if the
same is granted, the Prosecution would be precluded from refiling the case on the
ground of double jeopardy.

This Court noted, however, that the motion to dismiss is for Criminal Case No. 3892
only 17 although the instant petition makes it appear, and the respondents seem to
accede thereto, that the motion affects both Criminal Cases Nos. 3890 and 3892. This,
of course, would become entirely irrelevant in the light of the succeeding discussion on
the second ground stressed by the respondent Judge.

What actually transpired before the court a quo was that the Prosecution orally
withdrew the motion to dismiss. In the transcripts of the stenographic notes of the
proceedings on 7 February 1985, 18 We find the following:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"ASST. CITY FISCAL L. LOPENA

Your Honor please, I have conferred with the complaining witness and she manifested
her willingness to testify in this case for the prosecution. In view of this development,
we are constrained to withdraw our motion to dismiss.cralawnad

COURT

All right, then arraign the accused." 19

This manifestation and withdrawal of the motion were made in the presence of the
accused and his counsel, neither of them objected thereto for they knew too well that
they had no legal basis therefor. The only flaw in this regard is the respondent Judge’s
failure to explicitly make a ruling on the oral motion. He merely granted the motion
impliedly by immediately directing the arraignment of the accused. He should have
taken the trouble of making an unequivocal ruling thereon by simply stating: "Motion is
granted; the motion to dismiss is considered withdrawn. All right, arraign the accused."
The demands of orderly procedure require that a judge of a court of record must
ensure that actions on motions must not be left to conjecture but must, in a manner of
speaking, be done in black and white.
2. Considering that he had been arraigned — which both the parties and the court
thought that the same was for both cases — petitioner was not required to appear at
the trial on 8 and 9 April 1985. While it may be true that he has the right to be present
at every stage of the proceedings, i.e., from the arraignment to the promulgation of
judgment, he can waive his presence. The second sentence of paragraph (2), Section
14, Article III of the 1987 Constitution provides as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"However, after arraignment, trial may proceed notwithstanding the absence of the
accused provided that he has been duly notified and his failure to appear is
unjustifiable." 20

Section 1 (c), Rule 115 of the Rules of Court provides, in part, as


follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

". . . The accused may, however, waive his presence at the trial pursuant to the
stipulations set forth in his bail bond, unless his presence is specifically ordered by the
court for purposes of identification. The absence of the accused without any justifiable
cause at the trial on a particular date of which he had notice shall be considered a
waiver of his right to be present during that trial."cralaw virtua1aw library

While Section 2(c), Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, on the different conditions attached
to a bail bond, provides:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
x x x

"(c) The failure of the accused to appear at the trial without justification despite due
notice shall be deemed an express waiver of his right to be present on the date
specified in the notice. In such case, the trial may proceed in absentia:"

Having failed to appear on 8 April 1985 despite due notice, and considering that on said
date the urgent motion for resetting had not yet been received by the court,
respondent Judge could not be faulted for believing that petitioner’s non-appearance
was unjustified. Hence, a hearing in absentia was proper under the aforequoted
provision of the Constitution and Sections 2(c) and 1(c) of Rules 114 and 115,
respectively, of the Rules of Court.chanrobles law library

However, respondent Judge gravely abused his discretion when he ordered the
forfeiture of the bond and required the bonding company to show cause why no
judgment should be rendered against it for the amount of the bond. One other
condition for the granting of bail, set forth in Section 2(b), Rule 114 of the Rules of
Court, is that the accused shall appear before the proper court whenever so required by
the court or the rules of Court.

A bail bond may be forfeited only in instances where the presence of the accused is
specifically required by the court or the Rules of Court and, despite due notice to the
bondsmen to produce him before the court on a given date, the accused fails to appear
in person as so required. 21 There is no showing that the court had specifically required
the bonding company to produce the body of the petitioner on 8 and 9 April 1985.
Moreover, since Criminal Cases Nos. 3890 and 3892, which involve two (2) checks with
a face value of P3,000.00 each, were merely for the violation of Batas Pambansa Blg.
22 which imposes a penalty of "imprisonment of not less than thirty (30) days but not
more than one (1) year or by a fine of not leas than but not more than double the
amount of the check which fine shall in no case exceed Two Hundred Thousand Pesos,
or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court," the presence of the
accused at the hearing on 8 and 9 April 1985 was not indispensable.

Under the Rules of Court, the accused has to be present:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

(a) at the arraignment pursuant to paragraph (b), Section 1, Rule 116;

(b) at the promulgation of judgment, except when conviction is for a light offense, in
which case the judgment may be pronounced in the presence of his counsel or
representative pursuant to Section 6 of Rule 120, or unless promulgation in absentia is
allowed under the third paragraph of said section; and

(c) when the prosecution intends to present witnesses who will identify the accused.
22

Before the advent of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, the accused did not have to
be present at the arraignment if the charge was for a light offense triable by the then
justice of the peace or any other inferior court of similar jurisdiction. Also, his plea may
be entered on his behalf by his attorney if the charge is for a misdemeanor or a minor
offense in which the penalty that may be imposed is a fine not exceeding P200.00. 23

3. Petitioner, however, is not fully justified in claiming that he was denied his right to
due process by the respondent Judge. In the first place, it is not true that petitioner
was arraigned over his objection. The transcript of the proceedings on 7 February 1985
24 reveals that his counsel merely asked for "enough time to confront the accused and
advise him of what to plea (sic) in case the arraignment will push through" for the
reason that it was his initial appearance. He asked for a deferment of the arraignment
for ten (10) days. The court, however, gave him until 10:00 o’clock that morning to
prepare for the arraignment, to which he agreed. When the cases were called again at
10:00 o’clock that morning, the following transpired:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"ATTY. CARLOS MARCOS

Your Honor please, before the arraignment, may I make it of record that the Fiscal just
have (sic) today turned over the information which is for reading by the Clerk of
Court.chanrobles law library : red

COURT

All right, arraign the accused now in the two cases?

NOTE — Information was read to the accused after which . . .

COURT (To accused)

What is your plea?

ACCUSED

Not guilty, Your Honor.

ATTY. CARLOS MARCOS

Your Honor please, the reading of the information of the other case, may we pray that
it be waived and the accused will enter the plea of not guilty?

COURT:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

So, what is the pleasure now of the defense?

ATTY. C. MARCOS

Considering that the accused’s arraignment has just been terminated, may we be given
ample time to prepare the defense of our case, Your Honor.

COURT

All right, you agree on the date?

COURT

ORDER

In the above-entitled two cases, the accused assisted by counsel, Atty. Carlos Marcos,
pleaded not guilty upon being arraigned.

Let the joint trial of these cases be set on April 8 at 2:30 p.m. and April 9, 1985, at 8:30
a.m.
Notified in open court are Asst. City Fiscal Lorenzo Lopena, Atty. Carlos Marcos, and the
accused.

Notify the private prosecutor, Atty. Paulino G. Clarin.

SO ORDERED."25cralaw:red

It will, however, be noted that insofar as the second case, Criminal Case No. 3892, is
concerned, the court made no ruling on, the manifestation and offer by petitioner’s
counsel that the reading of the information be waived and a plea of not guilty be
entered. The petitioner was neither made to confirm the manifestation nor directed to
personally make the plea. There was, therefore, no valid arraignment in Criminal Case
No. 3892 Section 1(b), Rule 116 of the Rules of Court, as amended, requires the
accused to personally enter his plea.

In the second place, the motion to reset the hearing was a mere subterfuge to obtain a
postponement of and delay the proceedings. Petitioner and his counsel were notified in
open court about the 8 and 9 April 1985 hearing on 7 February 1985. Having agreed to
that setting, counsel in effect certified that he had no prior commitment on those dates
and he was thereby bound to give priority to the same, unless events of greater
importance or of a more serious nature requiring his presence, supervened. The only
reason he gave for the notice was that he "has a previous legal commitment in Manila
needing his personal attention." 26 He did not elaborate on what that legal commitment
was. If he indeed had such a commitment and his conformity to the 8 and 9 April 1985
setting was a mistake, he should have immediately filed a motion for the resetting of
hearing. It hardly needs to be said that either the so-called "legal commitment" in
Manila — whatever that could have been — was made sometime after 7 February 1985
or that it never existed at all. In the motion to reconsider the 8 April 1985 Order,
petitioner’s counsel did not bother to explain the importance of that commitment or
convince the court that he actually made the trip to Manila.chanrobles lawlibrary :
rednad

Thirdly, counsel for petitioner should not have presumed that the motion, which he
prepared and sent by registered mail only on 29 March 1989, would reach the court and
be granted before 8 April 1985. He knew, or ought to know that the granting of
motions for postponement in criminal cases is left to the sound discretion of the Court
— a rule which has been steadfastly adhered to since United States v. Lorenzana 27
and which this Court more explicitly expressed in United States v. Ramirez 28 in this
wise:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Applications for continuances are addressed to the sound discretion of the court. In
this respect, it may be said that the discretion which the trial court exercises must be
judicial and not arbitrary. It is the guardian of the rights of the accused as well as those
of the people at large, and should not unduly force him to trial, nor for light causes
jeopardize the rights or interests of the public. Where the court conceives it to be
necessary for the more perfect attainment of justice, it has the power upon the motion
of either party to continue the case. But a party charged with a crime has no natural or
inalienable right to a continuance."cralaw virtua1aw library

This rule was succinctly stated in Section 2 of Rule 119 before its amendment by the
1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"SEC. 2. Continuance or postponement of the trial. — The court on the application of


either party or on its own motion, may in its discretion for good cause postpone the trial
of the case for such period of time as the ends of justice and the right of the defendant
to a speedy trial require." chanrobles virtual lawlibrary

As amended, it now reads:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"SEC 2. Continuance trial until terminated; postponements. — Trial once commenced


shall continue from day to day as far as practicable until terminated; but for good
cause, it may be postponed for a reasonable period of time."cralaw virtua1aw library

Finally, the urgent motion for resetting was a mere scrap of paper. As earlier noted, it
does not contain a notice of hearing to the Prosecution; all it had was a mere request,
addressed to the Clerk of Court, that it be submitted for the consideration and approval
of the court immediately upon his receipt thereof. There was, therefore, a clear
violation of Section 5, Rule 15 of the Rules of Court, which is also applicable in motions
for continuance in criminal cases. Said section provides as
follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"SEC. 5. Contents of notice. — The notice shall be directed to the parties concerned,
and shall state the time and place for the hearing of the motion."cralaw virtua1aw
library

In Bank of the Philippine Islands v. Far East Molasses Corp., 29 this Court explicitly
ruled that a motion that does not contain a notice of hearing is but a mere scrap of
paper, it presents no question which merits the attention and consideration of the
court. It is not even a motion for it does not comply with the rules and hence, the clerk
has no right to receive it.

Since on 8 April 1985 the motion for resetting had not yet been received by the court,
the respondent Judge committed no error, much less abuse of discretion, in allowing
the prosecution to present, ex parte, its evidence and rest its case immediately
thereafter in Criminal Case No. 3890; the same, however, cannot be said about Criminal
Case No. 3892 for, as earlier mentioned, no valid arraignment had as yet been
conducted thereon. Petitioner should blame no one else but his counsel. Nonetheless, a
client is bound by the acts, even mistakes of his counsel in the realm of procedural
technique; however, if the former is prejudiced by the latter’s negligence or misconduct,
he may recover damages. 30

However, respondent Judge committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of


jurisdiction when he capriciously and arbitrarily considered Criminal Cases Nos. 3890
and 3892 — more particularly the latter wherein there was no valid arraignment —
submitted for decision after the prosecution rested its case on 8 April 1985. He thus
blatantly ignored and disregarded Section 2(c), Rule 114 and Section 1(c), Rule 115 of
the Rules of Court which merely consider the accused’s non-appearance during trial —
8 April 1985, in this case — as a waiver of his right to be present for trial on such date
only and not for the succeeding trial dates. This is quite clear from Section 1(c) of Rule
115 which further provides:chanrobles virtual lawlibrary

". . . The absence of the accused without any justifiable cause at the trial on a
particular date of which he had notice shall be considered a waiver of his right to be
present during that trial. When an accused under custody had been notified of the date
of the trial and escapes, he shall be deemed to have waived his right to be present on
said date and on all subsequent trial dates until custody is regained." (Emphasis
supplied)

Thus, with respect to an accused who is not in custody, his non-appearance constitutes
a waiver of his right to be present only for the trial set for the particular date of which
he had notice. Upon the other hand, such non-appearance by an accused in custody
and who later escapes is considered a waiver of the right on such date and all
subsequent trial dates until such custody is regained.

The hearing on 8 April 1985 was actually the initial hearing for the two (2) cases, albeit
erroneously for the second due to the infirmity referred to earlier, it was likewise for the
purpose of receiving the evidence for the prosecution. It cannot be fairly presumed that
said setting was also for the purpose of presenting the accused’s evidence considering
that neither the court nor the parties knew in advance the number of cases to be tried
on those dates and the length of the direct and cross examinations of the witnesses.
Besides, even assuming for the sake of argument that the prosecution could rest its
case on 8 April 1985, the defense could have still filed a demurrer to evidence under
Section 15, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court, which would have necessarily meant a
deferment of the reception of the evidence for the accused.

The order of the respondent Judge declaring the two (2) cases submitted for decision is
not only a violation of Section 1(c) of Rule 115 but is also a pronouncement that the
petitioner had waived his constitutional right to be heard by himself and counsel, 31
and present his evidence. This is certainly lamentable for he thus allowed his court to
breach one of its highest, duties — the protection of the citizen and the maintenance of
his constitutional rights. 32
While constitutional rights may be waived, 33 such waiver must be clear and must be
coupled with an actual intention to relinquish the right. 34 There is nothing on record to
suggest conduct on the part of the petitioner from which it may be reasonably inferred
that he had waived his right to submit his evidence. On the contrary, his counsel’s
motion for resetting requested specifically for the hearing of the cases on 13 and 14
May 1985.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

1. SETTING ASIDE that portion of the Order of respondent Judge of 3 April 1985
forfeiting the bond posted by petitioner’s bondsmen and declaring Criminal Cases Nos.
3892 and 3892 submitted for decision;

2. DECLARING that there was no valid arraignment in Criminal Case No.


3892;chanrobles law library : red

3. UPHOLDING the validity of the ex-parte reception of the prosecution’s evidence on 8


April 1985 insofar as Criminal Case No. 3890 is concerned and DECLARING petitioner as
having waived his right to cross-examine the witness presented by the prosecution in
said case;

4. SETTING ASIDE the Notice of Promulgation issued on 3 May 1985; and

5. DIRECTING the court below to arraign the petitioner in Criminal Case No. 3892, set
the case for trial for the reception of the evidence for the prosecution, hold a joint
hearing of both cases for the reception of the evidence for the petitioner and, in due
course, render judgment thereon.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

ROBERTO P. ALMARIO, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, HON.


FLORENTINO A. TUASON, JR., PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES AND RIZAL
COMMERCIAL BANKING CORP., respondents.
DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:
This appeal by certiorari seeks to set aside the resolutions of the Court of Appeals
dated November 21, 1996[1] and of January 7, 1997,[2] in CA-G.R. No. SP-42312, which
denied the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with preliminary injunction
instituted by petitioner against the Hon. Florentino A. Tuason, Jr., in his capacity as
Presiding Judge of Branch 139, Regional Trial Court of Makati City, the Rizal Commercial
Banking Corporation (RCBC), and the People of the Philippines.[3] Involved in said
petition were the orders of Judge Jaime D. Discaya and Judge Tuason dated October
25, 1995[4] and April 11, 1996,[5] respectively, issued in Criminal Cases Nos. 91-6761-62
which petitioner claimed were violative of his constitutional right against double
jeopardy but which respondent appellate court upheld.
The factual antecedents in these cases, as culled by the Court of Appeals, are as
follows:
Petitioner is one of the accused in Criminal Case No. 91-6761, for estafa thru
falsification of public document, and Criminal Case No. 91-6762, for estafa, with
respondent RCBC as the offended party in both cases.
The informations were filed on October 22, 1992. After petitioners arraignment on
March 18, 1992, pre-trial was held, which was terminated on October 21,
1994. Thereafter, the cases were scheduled for continuous trial in December 1994, and
in January and February 1995, but the hearings were cancelled because the Presiding
Judge of the court was elevated to this Court and no trial judge was immediately
appointed/detailed thereto.
The hearing set for June 21, 1995, was postponed for lack of proof of notice to all the
accused and their counsel. The hearing on July 17, 1995, upon request of private
prosecutor, and without objection on the part of petitioners counsel, postponed to July
24, 1995. However, for lack of proof of service of notice upon petitioners three co-
accused, the hearing set for July 24, 1995, was likewise cancelled and the cases were
reset for trial on September 8 and 25, 1995.
On September 8, 1995, private complainant failed to appear despite due notice. Hence,
upon motion of petitioners counsel, respondent court issued the following order:
When this case was called for hearing, private complainant is not in Court despite
notice. Atty. Alabastro, counsel for accused Roberto Almario, moved that the case
against the latter be dismissed for failure to prosecute and considering that accused is
entitled to a speedy trial.
WHEREFORE, the case against accused Roberto Almario is hereby dismissed. With
respect to accused Spouses Susencio and Guillerma Cruz and Dante Duldulao, 1st
warrant be issued for their arrest.
SO ORDERED.
Upon motion of the private prosecutor and despite the opposition of petitioner,
respondent court in its Order dated October 25, 1995, reconsidered the Order of
September 8, 1995. The pertinent portion of said order reads as follows:
In Hipolito vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 108478-79, Feb. 21, 1993) the Supreme Court
held that the right of the accused to a speedy trial is deemed violated only when the
proceedings is attended by vexations, capricious and oppressive delays, or when
unjustified postponements of the trial are asked for and secured, or when without
cause or unjustifiable motive, a long period of time is allowed to (e) lapse without the
party having his case tried. At least this right is relative, taking into (the) account the
circumstances of each case.
There has been no vexations, capricious and oppressive delays, or unjustified
postponements of the trial, or a long time is allowed to (e) lapse without the party
having his case tried which would constitute, according to the above case, violation of
the right of the accused to speedy trial. After arraignment of the accused, the pre-trial
was set and the same was ordered terminated on October 25, 1994. On June 21, 1995,
the case was set for initial presentation of evidence of the proof of service of the
notices to the accused and their respective counsels. On July 17, 1995, counsel for the
accused did not interpose objection to private prosecutors motion to postpone due to
absence of witnesses. On July 24, 1995, the trial could not proceed as, being a joint
trial of three criminal cases, the three other accused were not present. There were only
three settings from the date of termination of the pre-trial for the prosecution to
present evidence and the same were postponed with valid reasons.
The dismissal in the Order dated September 8, 1995, did not result in the acquittal of
the accused since the right of the accused to speedy trial has not been violated, and its
dismissal having been made upon the motion of the accused there is no double
jeopardy.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Order dated September 8, 1995 dismissing the
charge/case against the accused Roberto Almario is reconsidered and set aside.
SO ORDERED.
Petitioner sought a reconsideration of the above order. Acting on the Motion for
Reconsideration dated November 9, 1995, respondent Judge issued his assailed Order
of April 11, 1996, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Motion for Reconsideration dated 9 November 1995
is hereby denied for lack of merit considering that, based on the foregoing facts, the
proceedings in this case have not been prolonged unreasonably nor were there
oppressive delays and unjustified postponements in violation of the Accuseds
constitutional right to speedy trial.
SO ORDERED.[6]
Aggrieved by the foregoing order, petitioner filed before the Court of Appeals a
petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with preliminary injunction against the
presiding judge of Branch 139 of the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, RCBC and the
People of the Philippines.In a resolution dated November 21, 1996, respondent
appellate court denied the petition due course and dismissed it for lack of
merit. Petitioners motion to reconsider it was likewise denied for lack of merit in a
resolution dated January 7, 1997.
Before us, petitioner maintains that the appellate court erred in sustaining the trial
court which, in turn, had gravely abused its discretion, amounting to lack of jurisdiction,
when it reconsidered the order which dismissed the criminal cases against
him. Petitioner asserts that this reversal was a violation of the doctrine of double
jeopardy, as the criminal cases were initially dismissed for an alleged violation of
petitioners constitutional right to a speedy trial.[7]
The issue for resolution is whether, in petitioners cases, double jeopardy had set in
so that petitioners constitutional right against such jeopardy had been violated.
Article III, Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution provides:
Sec. 21. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same
offense. If an act is punished by a law and an ordinance, conviction or acquittal under
either shall constitute a bar to another prosecution for the same act.
Section 7, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Court provides:
SEC. 7. Former conviction or acquittal; double jeopardy. When an accused has been
convicted or acquitted, or the case against him dismissed or otherwise terminated
without his express consent by a court of competent jurisdiction, upon a valid complaint
or information or other formal charge sufficient in form and substance to sustain a
conviction and after the accused had pleaded to the charge, the conviction or acquittal
of the accused or the dismissal of the case shall be a bar to another prosecution for the
offense charged, or for any attempt to commit the same or frustration thereof, or for
any offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the offense charged
in the former complaint or information.
xxx
Clearly, jeopardy attaches only (1) upon a valid indictment, (2) before a competent
court, (3) after arraignment, (4) when a valid plea has been entered, and (5) when the
defendant was convicted or acquitted, or the case was dismissed or otherwise
terminated without the express consent of the accused.[8]
In the cases at bar, the order of dismissal based on a violation of the right to
speedy trial was made upon motion by counsel for petitioner before the trial court. It
was made at the instance of the accused before the trial court, and with his express
consent. Generally, the dismissal of a criminal case resulting in acquittal made with the
express consent of the accused or upon his own motion will not place the accused in
double jeopardy.However, this rule admits of two exceptions, namely: insufficiency of
evidence and denial of the right to speedy trial.[9] Double jeopardy may attach when the
proceedings have been prolonged unreasonably, in violation of the accuseds right to
speedy trial.[10]
Here we must inquire whether there was unreasonable delay in the conduct of the
trial so that violation of the right to speedy trial of the accused, herein petitioner,
resulted. For it must be recalled that in the application of the constitutional guaranty of
the right to speedy disposition of cases, particular regard must also be taken of the
facts and circumstances peculiar to each case.[11] Both the trial court and the appellate
court noted that after pre-trial of petitioners case was terminated on October 21, 1994,
continuous trial was set in the months of December 1994, and January and February of
1995. The scheduled hearings, however, were cancelled when the presiding judge was
promoted to the Court of Appeals, and his successor as trial judge was not immediately
appointed, nor another judge detailed to his sala.
Records show that on June 21, 1995, hearing was postponed for lack of proof of
notice to the accused and their counsel. The hearing on July 17, 1995, was postponed
upon motion of the private prosecutor without objection from petitioners counsel. The
hearing set on July 24, 1995 was reset, despite the presence of petitioner and his
counsel, because of lack of proof of service of notice to co-accused Dante Duldulao and
the spouses Susencio and Guillerma Cruz.[12]
As observed by respondent appellate court, delay in the trial was due to
circumstances beyond the control of the parties and of the trial court. The first and
third postponements were clearly justified on the ground of lack of notice to accused,
co-accused, and/or counsel. Another was made without objection from petitioners
counsel. However, on September 8, 1995, counsel for petitioner moved for dismissal of
this case, because of the absence of the private prosecutor due to a severe attack of
gout and arthritis, although he had sent his associate lawyer acceptable to the
court.[13] All in all, there were only three re-setting of hearing dates. Thus, after a closer
analysis of these successive events, the trial court realized that the dates of the
hearings were transferred for valid grounds. Hence, the trial court set aside its initial
order and reinstated the cases against petitioner,[14] which order the appellate court
later sustained.
That there was no unreasonable delay of the proceedings is apparent from the
chronology of the hearings with the reasons for their postponements or
transfers. Petitioner could not refute the appellate courts findings that petitioners right
to speedy trial had not been violated. As both the trial and appellate courts have taken
pains to demonstrate, there was no unreasonable, vexatious and oppressive delay in
the trial. Hence, there was no violation of petitioners right to speedy trial as there were
no unjustified postponements which had prolonged the trial for unreasonable lengths of
time.[15]
There being no oppressive delay in the proceedings, and no postponements
unjustifiably sought, we concur with the conclusion reached by the Court of Appeals
that petitioners right to speedy trial had not been infringed. Where the right of the
accused to speedy trial had not been violated, there was no reason to support the initial
order of dismissal.
It follows that petitioner cannot invoke the constitutional right against double
jeopardy when that order was reconsidered seasonably.[16] For as petitioners right to
speedy trial was not transgressed, this exception to the fifth element of double jeopardy
that the defendant was acquitted or convicted, or the case was dismissed or otherwise
terminated without the express consent of the accused was not met. The trial courts
initial order of dismissal was upon motion of petitioners counsel, hence made with the
express consent of petitioner. That being the case, despite the reconsideration of said
order, double jeopardy did not attach. As this Court had occasion to rule in People vs.
Tampal, (244 SCRA 202) reiterated in People vs. Leviste,[17] where we overturned an
order of dismissal by the trial court predicated on the right to speedy trial
It is true that in an unbroken line of cases, we have held that the dismissal of cases on
the ground of failure to prosecute is equivalent to an acquittal that would bar further
prosecution of the accused for the same offense. It must be stressed, however, that
these dismissals were predicated on the clear right of the accused to speedy trial. These
cases are not applicable to the petition at bench considering that the right of the private
respondents to speedy trial has not been violated by the State. For this reason, private
respondents cannot invoke their right against double jeopardy.
Both the trial court and the Court of Appeals were thus not in error when they
allowed reinstatement of the cases against petitioner.
WHEREFORE, the resolutions of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. SP-42312,
dated November 21, 1996 and January 7, 1997, which upheld the orders of the
Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 139, in Criminal Cases Nos. 91-6761-62, are
hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.