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G.R. No. L-53373 accused.

8 A motion to dismiss for insufficiency of


evidence was filed by the Provincial Fiscal dated April 10,
MARIO FL. CRESPO, petitioner, 1978 with the trial court, 9 attaching thereto a copy of
vs. the letter of Undersecretary Macaraig, Jr. In an order of
HON. LEODEGARIO L. MOGUL, Presiding Judge, CIRCUIT August 2, 1978 the private prosecutor was given time to
CRIMINAL COURT OF LUCENA CITY, 9th Judicial Dist., file an opposition thereto.10 On November 24, 1978 the
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the Judge denied the motion and set the arraigniment
SOLICITOR GENERAL, RICARDO BAUTISTA, ET stating:
AL., respondents.
ORDER

For resolution is a motion to dismiss this rase


filed by the procuting fiscal premised on
GANCAYCO, J.: insufficiency of evidence, as suggested by the
Undersecretary of Justice, evident from Annex
The issue raised in this ease is whether the trial court "A" of the motion wherein, among other things,
acting on a motion to dismiss a criminal case filed by the the Fiscal is urged to move for dismissal for the
Provincial Fiscal upon instructions of the Secretary of reason that the check involved having been
Justice to whom the case was elevated for review, may issued for the payment of a pre-existing
refuse to grant the motion and insist on the arraignment obligation the Hability of the drawer can only be
and trial on the merits. civil and not criminal.

On April 18, 1977 Assistant Fiscal Proceso K. de Gala with The motion's thrust being to induce this Court
the approval of the Provincial Fiscal filed an information to resolve the innocence of the accused on
for estafa against Mario Fl. Crespo in the Circuit Criminal evidence not before it but on that adduced
Court of Lucena City which was docketed as Criminal before the Undersecretary of Justice, a matter
Case No. CCCIX-52 (Quezon) '77.1 When the case was set that not only disregards the requirements of
for arraigment the accused filed a motion to defer due process but also erodes the Court's
arraignment on the ground that there was a pending independence and integrity, the motion is
petition for review filed with the Secretary of Justice of considered as without merit and therefore
the resolution of the Office of the Provincial Fiscal for hereby DENIED.
the filing of the information. In an order of August 1,
1977, the presiding judge, His Honor, Leodegario L. WHEREFORE, let the arraignment be, as it is
Mogul, denied the motion. 2 A motion for hereby set for December 18, 1978 at 9:00
reconsideration of the order was denied in the order of o'clock in the moming.
August 5, 1977 but the arraignment was deferred to
August 18, 1977 to afford time for petitioner to elevate SO ORDERED. 11
the matter to the appellate court. 3
The accused then filed a petition for certiorari,
A petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for a prohibition and mandamus with petition for the issuance
preliminary writ of injunction was filed by the accused in of preliminary writ of prohibition and/or temporary
the Court of Appeals that was docketed as CA-G.R. SP restraining order in the Court of Appeals that was
No. 06978. 4 In an order of August 17, 1977 the Court of docketed as CA-G.R. No. SP-08777. 12 On January 23,
Appeals restrained Judge Mogul from proceeding with 1979 a restraining order was issued by the Court of
the arraignment of the accused until further orders of Appeals against the threatened act of arraignment of the
the Court. 5 In a comment that was filed by the Solicitor accused until further orders from the Court. 13 In a
General he recommended that the petition be given due decision of October 25, 1979 the Court of Appeals
course. 6 On May 15, 1978 a decision was rendered by dismissed the petition and lifted the restraining order of
the Court of Appeals granting the writ and perpetually January 23, 1979. 14 A motion for reconsideration of said
restraining the judge from enforcing his threat to compel decision filed by the accused was denied in a resolution
the arraignment of the accused in the case until the of February 19, 1980. 15
Department of Justice shall have finally resolved the
petition for review. 7 Hence this petition for review of said decision was filed
by accused whereby petitioner prays that said decision
On March 22, 1978 then Undersecretary of Justice, be reversed and set aside, respondent judge be
Hon.Catalino Macaraig, Jr., resolving the petition for perpetually enjoined from enforcing his threat to
review reversed the resolution of the Office of the proceed with the arraignment and trial of petitioner in
Provincial Fiscal and directed the fiscal to move for said criminal case, declaring the information filed not
immediate dismissal of the information filed against the valid and of no legal force and effect, ordering
respondent Judge to dismiss the said case, and declaring the fiscal's discretion and control of criminal
the obligation of petitioner as purely civil. 16 prosecutions. 25 Thus, a fiscal who asks for the dismissal
of the case for insufficiency of evidence has authority to
In a resolution of May 19, 1980, the Second Division of do so, and Courts that grant the same commit no
this Court without giving due course to the petition error. 26 The fiscal may re-investigate a case and
required the respondents to comment to the petition, subsequently move for the dismissal should the re-
not to file a motiod to dismiss, within ten (10) days from investigation show either that the defendant is innocent
notice. In the comment filed by the Solicitor General he or that his guilt may not be established beyond
recommends that the petition be given due course, it reasonable doubt. 27 In a clash of views between the
being meritorious. Private respondent through counsel judge who did not investigate and the fiscal who did, or
filed his reply to the comment and a separate conunent between the fiscal and the offended party or the
to the petition asking that the petition be dismissed. In defendant, those of the Fiscal's should normally
the resolution of February 5, 1981, the Second Division prevail. 28 On the other hand, neither an injunction,
of this Court resolved to transfer this case to the preliminary or final nor a writ of prohibition may be
Court En Banc. In the resolution of February 26, 1981, issued by the courts to restrain a criminal
the Court En Banc resolved to give due course to the prosecution 29 except in the extreme case where it is
petition. necessary for the Courts to do so for the orderly
administration of justice or to prevent the use of the
Petitioner and private respondent filed their respective strong arm of the law in an op pressive and vindictive
briefs while the Solicitor General filed a Manifestation in manner. 30
lieu of brief reiterating that the decision of the
respondent Court of Appeals be reversed and that However, the action of the fiscal or prosecutor is not
respondent Judge be ordered to dismiss the information. without any limitation or control. The same is subject to
the approval of the provincial or city fiscal or the chief
It is a cardinal principle that an criminal actions either state prosecutor as the case maybe and it maybe
commenced by complaint or by information shall be elevated for review to the Secretary of Justice who has
prosecuted under the direction and control of the the power to affirm, modify or reverse the action or
fiscal. 17 The institution of a criminal action depends opinion of the fiscal. Consequently the Secretary of
upon the sound discretion of the fiscal. He may or may Justice may direct that a motion to dismiss the rase be
not file the complaint or information, follow or not filed in Court or otherwise, that an information be filed
fonow that presented by the offended party, according in Court. 31
to whether the evidence in his opinion, is sufficient or
not to establish the guilt of the accused beyond The filing of a complaint or information in Court initiates
reasonable doubt. 18 The reason for placing the criminal a criminal action. The Court thereby acquires jurisdiction
prosecution under the direction and control of the fiscal over the case, which is the authority to hear and
is to prevent malicious or unfounded prosecution by determine the case. 32 When after the filing of the
private persons. 19 It cannot be controlled by the complaint or information a warrant for the arrest of the
complainant. 20 Prosecuting officers under the power accused is issued by the trial court and the accused
vested in them by law, not only have the authority but either voluntarily submited himself to the Court or was
also the duty of prosecuting persons who, according to duly arrested, the Court thereby acquired jurisdiction
the evidence received from the complainant, are shown over the person of the accused. 33
to be guilty of a crime committed within the jurisdiction
of their office. 21 They have equally the legal duty not to The preliminary investigation conducted by the fiscal for
prosecute when after an investigation they become the purpose of determining whether a prima facie case
convinced that the evidence adduced is not sufficient to exists warranting the prosecution of the accused is
establish a prima faciecase. 22 terminated upon the filing of the information in the
proper court. In turn, as above stated, the filing of said
It is through the conduct of a preliminary information sets in motion the criminal action against
investigation 23 that the fiscal determines the existence the accused in Court. Should the fiscal find it proper to
of a puma facie case that would warrant the prosecution conduct a reinvestigation of the case, at such stage, the
of a case. The Courts cannot interfere with the fiscal's permission of the Court must be secured. After such
discretion and control of the criminal prosecution. It is reinvestigation the finding and recommendations of the
not prudent or even permissible for a Court to compel fiscal should be submitted to the Court for appropriate
the fiscal to prosecute a proceeding originally initiated action. 34 While it is true that the fiscal has the quasi
by him on an information, if he finds that the evidence judicial discretion to determine whether or not a
relied upon by him is insufficient for criminal case should be filed in court or not, once the
conviction. 24 Neither has the Court any power to order case had already been brought to Court whatever
the fiscal to prosecute or file an information within a disposition the fiscal may feel should be proper in the
certain period of time, since this would interfere with rase thereafter should be addressed for the
consideration of the Court, 35 The only qualification is instructions of the Secretary of Justice who reviewed the
that the action of the Court must not impair the records of the investigation.
substantial rights of the accused. 36 or the right of the
People to due process of law. 36a In order therefor to avoid such a situation whereby the
opinion of the Secretary of Justice who reviewed the
Whether the accused had been arraigned or not and action of the fiscal may be disregarded by the trial court,
whether it was due to a reinvestigation by the fiscal or a the Secretary of Justice should, as far as practicable,
review by the Secretary of Justice whereby a motion to refrain from entertaining a petition for review or appeal
dismiss was submitted to the Court, the Court in the from the action of the fiscal, when the complaint or
exercise of its discretion may grant the motion or deny it information has already been filed in Court. The matter
and require that the trial on the merits proceed for the should be left entirely for the determination of the
proper determination of the case. Court.

However, one may ask, if the trial court refuses to grant WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit
the motion to dismiss filed by the fiscal upon the without pronouncement as to costs.
directive of the Secretary of Justice will there not be a
vacuum in the prosecution? A state prosecutor to handle SO ORDERED.
the case cannot possibly be designated by the Secretary
of Justice who does not believe that there is a basis for
prosecution nor can the fiscal be expected to handle the
prosecution of the case thereby defying the superior
order of the Secretary of Justice.

The answer is simple.1âwphi1 The role of the fiscal or


prosecutor as We all know is to see that justice is done
and not necessarily to secure the conviction of the
person accused before the Courts. Thus, in spite of his
opinion to the contrary, it is the duty of the fiscal to
proceed with the presentation of evidence of the
prosecution to the Court to enable the Court to arrive at
its own independent judgment as to whether the
accused should be convicted or acquitted. The fiscal
should not shirk from the responsibility of appearing for
the People of the Philippines even under such
circumstances much less should he abandon the
prosecution of the case leaving it to the hands of a
private prosecutor for then the entire proceedings will
be null and void. 37 The least that the fiscal should do is
to continue to appear for the prosecution although he
may turn over the presentation of the evidence to the
private prosecutor but still under his direction and
control. 38

The rule therefore in this jurisdiction is that once a


complaint or information is filed in Court any disposition
of the case 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. The determination of the
case is within its exclusive jurisdiction and competence.
A motion to dismiss the case filed by the fiscal should be
addressed to the Court who has the option to grant or
deny the same. It does not matter if this is done before
or after the arraignment of the accused or that the
motion was filed after a reinvestigation or upon
G.R. No 166995 January 13, 2014 Doroteo, Diosdado Corompido, Yolanda Martirez and
NBI agent John Leonard David tend to establish the
DENNIS T. VILLAREAL, Petitioner, following factual milieu:
vs.
CONSUELO C. ALIGA, Respondent. Complainant Dennis T. Villareal is the President and
General Manager of Dentrade, Inc., a corporation with
DECISION principal office address at the 7/F Citibank Center 8741
Paseo de Roxas, Makati City. As a businessman, Villareal
PERALTA, J.: maintains checking accounts with the head office of
China Banking Corporation (Chinabank) in Paseo de
Challenged in this petition for review on certiorari under Roxas and United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) in
Rule 45 of the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure Makati Avenue, both banks are located in Makati City.
(Rules) are the April 27, 2004 Decision1 and August 10, He has under his employ, Elsa Doroteo, as executive
2004 Resolution,2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. secretary, Diosdado Corompido, as messenger, Yolanda
R No. 25581entitled People of he Philippines v. Consuelo Martirez, as chief accountant, [respondent] Consuelo
Cruz Aliga which acquitted respondent Consuelo C. Aliga Cruz Aliga and Annaliza Perez, as accounting clerks.
(Aliga) from the offense charged and, in effect, reversed [Respondent] has custody of the personal checks of
and set aside the July 12, 2001 Decision3 of the Regional Villareal. She prepares the personal checks by typing its
Trial Court RTC), Branch 147, Makati City. contents and submits them to Villareal for his signature.
After the signed checks are delivered to her, she in turn,
On October 31, 1996, an Information was filed against gives the checks to the messenger for encashment with
respondent Aliga for the crime of Qualified Theft thru the bank.
Falsification of Commercial Document, committed as
follows: Sometime in October 1996, Villareal’s governess asked
Doroteo for the payment covering the year 1995 for his
That on or about the 30th day of October 1996, in the children’s teacher in horseback riding. Doroteo replied
City of Makati, Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction that the said fees had been paid. To verify the matter,
of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, Doroteo instructed Perez, one of the accounting clerks,
being then an accountant of Dentrade Inc., herein to produce the originals of the returned checks from
represented by Dennis T. Villareal, and who has access [the] personal account of Villareal. Upon examining the
to the company’s checking accounts did then and there returned checks, Doroteo found out that the fees for the
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously with grave abuse of horseback riding instructor had indeed been paid and
confidence, with intent [to] gain and without the that there were large encashments reflected on the
consent of the owner thereof, take, steal and carry away checks in typewritten form. Doroteo informed Villareal
from complainant’s office, United Coconut Planters Bank of her findings. Villareal examined the returned checks
Check No. HOF 681039 dated October 24, 1996 in the and was surprised as he never authorized the large
amount of ₱5,000.00, once in possession of said check, encashments.
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
falsify the amount by changing it to ₱65,000.00 and Upon advice of his lawyer, Atty. Victor Lazatin of the
having the same encashed with the bank, thereafter ACCRA Law Offices, Mr. Villareal sent a letter to the
misappropriate and convert to her own personal use and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) asking for
benefit the amount of ₱60,000.00 to the damage and assistance in the investigation of the matter (Exh. "A"). A
prejudice of the herein complainant, Dentrade Inc., in few days thereafter, NBI agents John Leonard David and
the aforementioned amount of ₱60,000.00.4 Rafael Ragos arrived at the Dentrade office. They
examined the particular checks which involved large
During her arraignment on December 6, 1996, amounts and interviewed Doroteo.
respondent Aliga pleaded not guilty.5 After the RTC
resolved to deny petitioner’s motion for issuance of a When asked by the two NBI agents, Villareal told them
hold departure order against respondent Aliga and the that there were three (3) checks pending for his
latter’s motion to suspend proceedings,6 trial on the signature, UCPB checks, all in petty cash: one check was
merits ensued. Both the prosecution and the defense for ₱1,000.00, another for ₱5,000.00, and the last one
were able to present the testimonies of their witnesses for ₱6,000.00. They were all in typewritten form which
and their respective documentary exhibits. [respondent] prepared. As suggested by the NBI agents,
Villareal signed the three (3) checks. Doroteo had the
The Court of Appeals, substantially adopting the trial three checks photocopied then released their originals
court’s findings, narrated the relevant facts as follows: to [respondent].

Apart from the documentary exhibits "A" to "F", the On instruction of Villareal, Doroteo and NBI agent David
combined testimonies of the prosecution witnesses Elsa went to UCPB the next day hoping that one of the checks
will be encashed. At or about 3:00 p.m. on that day, Doroteo was in possession of another [checkbook] and
Doroteo asked the bank teller if Villareal’s three checks kept it in Villareal’s residence.
were encashed. The bank teller informed Doroteo that
UCPB check in the amount of ₱65,000.00 was encashed. [Respondent] admitted that the UCPB and Chinabank
Doroteo was surprised because she was then holding a checks were also used for the replenishment of the cash
photocopy of the original check for ₱5,000.00 while she advances made by Villareal; that the replenishment was
saw the teller holding a check for ₱65,000.00 but the prepared using a typewriter by Martirez, Perez, Doroteo
check number and date were exactly the same as that of and herself; that there was no regulation or control
its photocopy. Obviously, the number "6" was mechanism in their office where the responsibility for
intercalated in the check by adding the said number preparing any particular check on the personal account
before the digits "5,000.00." Upon Doroteo’s request, of Villareal could be identified; that the issuance of
the teller gave her a photocopy of the supposedly checks against the personal checking accounts at the
altered check. UCPB and Chinabank were frequent, from 5 to 12 checks
daily; and that there were no accompanying vouchers to
Doroteo reported back to the Dentrade office and record the purposes for which the checks were issued;
handed to Villareal the photocopy of the check bearing and that it was Martirez who monitors Villareal’s
the amount of ₱65,000.00. When summoned, personal checks at the UCPB and Chinabank.7
[respondent] arrived then executed a statement
voluntarily giving back the amount of ₱60,000.00 to Additionally, respondent Aliga claimed that Perez,
Villareal in the presence of his lawyers Lazatin and Doroteo, and Martirez are also using typewriter in the
Vallente, and Doroteo. The said statement was in the check preparation.8 Moreover, at the time she was
handwriting of [respondent] (Exh. "D"), which reads: summoned by Villareal inside his office, the two NBI
agents (David and Ragos) and Villareal’s counsels (Attys.
"After being confronted by Mr. Dennis T. Villareal, I am Lazatin and Vallente) were joined in by NBI Director
voluntarily surrendering the ₱60,000.00 as part of the Toledo.9 The extent of the NBI’s participation is
proceeds of UCPB check # 681039 dated October 30, disputed. While respondent Aliga10 maintained that she
1996 as follows (in ₱1,000.00 bills) (serial no. of was already arrested by the NBI at the moment she was
₱1,000.00 bills subject of the statement)." called to the office of Villareal, David11 testified that they
were merely silent spectators therein, just witnessing
Doroteo photocopied the ₱1,000.00 bills (Exh. "E"). After the confrontation or interview conducted by Villareal
[respondent] admitted the taking of the excess amount and not even talking to respondent Aliga.
of ₱60,000.00, the NBI agents placed her under arrest
and took her to the NBI detention center. The RTC succinctly opined that the evidence of the
prosecution is very clear that respondent Aliga must
According to witness Corompido, Villareal’s messenger, have been the one who made the intercalation in the
at 10:00 a.m. of October 30, 1996, he was bound for subject check, and that even without her written
UCPB, Makati Avenue branch. [Respondent] requested admission (Exhibit "D"), the evidence presented
him to pay her "Extelcom" bill and asked him to meet constitutes proof beyond reasonable doubt. The July 12,
her at the UCPB bank. After several minutes, the two 2001 Decision disposed:
met at the bank. [Respondent] handed to Corompido
her "Extelcom" bill and one personal check of Villareal in WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court, finding
the amount of ₱65,000.00. [Respondent] returned to the the accused CONSUELO CRUZ ALIGA guilty beyond
Dentrade [office]. Corompido gave to the teller reasonable doubt of the crime charged, hereby
[respondent’s] "Extelcom" payment and also the sentences her to suffer an indeterminate sentence of 14
personal check of Villareal for ₱65,000.00. The teller years, 8 months of reclusion temporal as the minimum
release the ₱65,000.00 to Corompido who signed on the to 20 years of reclusion temporal as the maximum.
stamped portion of the check. [Respondent] Aliga has a
different version for her defense. She claimed that on It appearing that the amount of ₱60,000.00 subject of
October 30, 1996 at around 2:30 p.m., the NBI agents the offense was already returned by the accused, the
arrested her but they did [not] inform [her] of her Court hereby absolves the accused of civil liability in this
constitutional rights to remain silent and to be assisted case.
by counsel; that she was actually an accounting assistant
to Dentrade’s chief accountant, Yolanda Martirez, the SO ORDERED.12
accounting clerk being Annaliza Perez; that she was not
in charge of Villareal’s personal checking account, but Respondent Aliga appealed to the CA, which, on April 27,
Martirez; that Perez was the one in custody of the 2004, reversed and set aside the judgment of the RTC on
[checkbooks] pertaining to the personal checking the grounds that: (1) her admission or confession of guilt
accounts of Villareal with UCPB and [Chinabank]; that before the NBI authorities, which already qualifies as a
custodial investigation, is inadmissible in evidence
because she was not informed of her rights to remain GREATER THAN PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE
silent and to have competent and independent counsel DOUBT, WHEN IT:
preferably of her own choice; and (2) the totality of the
circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution is 1. ERRONEOUSLY RULED THAT THE
insufficient to overcome the presumption of innocence PROSECUTION FAILED TO DISCOUNT
of the accused. THE POSSIBILITY THAT SOMEONE ELSE
COULD HAVE CAUSED THE ALTERATION
Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration was denied by ON THE CHECK; AND
the CA on August 10, 2004; hence, this petition raising
the issues for resolution as follows: 2. FAULTING THE PROSECUTION FOR
NOT PRESENTING PETITIONER AS A
I. WITNESS.

THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN DECLARING D. THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED WHEN,
INADMISSIBLE RESPONDENT’S VOLUNTARY ADMISSION BASED ON NOTHING MORE THAN RESPONDENT’S
OF GUILT, ON ITS CLEARLY SPECULATIVE AND DENIALS, IT DEPARTED FROM THE WELL-SETTLED RULE
CONJECTURAL PREMISE THAT RESPONDENT’S FREEDOM LAID DOWN BY THIS HONORABLE COURT THAT THE
OF ACTION WAS IMPAIRED WHEN SHE MADE THE TRIAL COURT’S FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS
ADMISSION, CONSIDERING THAT: BASED THEREON, AS WELL AS ITS ASSESSMENT OF THE
CREDIBILITY OF THE WITNESSES, ARE CONCLUSIVE UPON
A. AS LAID DOWN BY THIS HONORABLE COURT, APPELLATE COURTS.13
AN ADMISSION OF GUILT SHIFTS THE BURDEN
TO THE DEFENSE TO SHOW THAT IT WAS On the other hand, respondent Aliga countered that:
EXTRACTED BY FORCE OR DURESS.
I.
B. CONTRARY TO THE JURISPRUDENTIAL
GUIDELINES LAID DOWN BY THIS HONORABLE THE PETITION FOR REVIEW ON CERTIORARI SHOULD BE
COURT, THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRONEOUSLY DISMISSED FOR RAISING ONLY QUESTIONS OF FACTS.
CONCLUDED THAT RESPONDENT WAS
"EFFECTIVELY PLACED UNDER CUSTODIAL II.
INVESTIGATION" BY THE SHEER PHYSICAL
PRESENCE OF THE NBI AGENTS WHEN THE THE PETITION FOR REVIEW ON CERTIORARI SHOULD BE
ADMISSION WAS MADE. C. RESPONDENT’S DISMISSED ON THE GROUND OF DOUBLE JEOPARDY.
VOLUNTARY ADMISSION WAS MADE TO A
PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL, I.E., PETITIONER HEREIN. III.

II. PETITIONER HAS NO STANDING TO FILE THE INSTANT


PETITION FOR REVIEW ON CERTIORARI.
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED, IF NOT ACTED
IN EXCESS OF ITS JURISDICTION, WHEN IT CONCLUDED IV.
THAT THE PROSECUTION’S EVIDENCE WAS INSUFFICIENT
TO OVERCOME RESPONDENT’S PRESUMPTION OF
WITHOUT PREJUDICE TO THE FOREGOING ARGUMENTS,
INNOCENCE, CONSIDERING THAT:
THE PETITION FOR REVIEW ON CERTIORARI SHOULD BE
DISMISSED FOR FAILURE TO SHOW THAT THE COURT OF
A. CONTRARY TO THIS HONORABLE COURT’S APPEALS COMMITTED GRIEVOUS ERROR IN ISSUING THE
JURISPRUDENTIAL RULING, THE COURT OF 27 APRIL 2004 AND 10 AUGUST 2004 DECISIONS; ON
APPEALS ENTIRELY OVERLOOKED THE EVIDENCE THE CONTRARY, THE DECISIONS APPEAR TO BE IN
ON RECORD AND EXACTED DIRECT EVIDENCE ACCORD WITH THE FACTS AND THE APPLICABLE LAW
FROM THE PROSECUTION. AND JURISPRUDENCE.14

B. THE COURT OF APPEALS’ ERRONEOUS The petition is unmeritorious.


CONCLUSION THAT RESPONDENT IS INNOCENT
IS BASED ON ITS FINDING OF A SUPPOSED
The petition should have been filed
INSUFFICIENCY OF EVIDENCE WHICH IS
by the State through the OSG
CONTRADICTED BY THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD.
Petitioner took a procedural misstep when he filed the
C. THE COURT OF APPEALS DEPARTED FROM
present petition without the representation of the Office
SETTLED JURISPRUDENCE, REQUIRING FROM
THE PROSECUTION A QUANTUM OF EVIDENCE
of the Solicitor General (OSG). In Bautista v. Cuneta- In a special civil action for certiorari filed under Section
Pangilinan,15 We underscored: 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court wherein it is alleged that
the trial court committed a grave abuse of discretion
x x x The authority to represent the State in appeals of amounting to lack of jurisdiction or on other
criminal cases before the Supreme Court and the CA is jurisdictional grounds, the rules state that the petition
solely vested in the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). may be filed by the person aggrieved. In such case, the
Section 35 (1), Chapter 12, Title III, Book IV of the 1987 aggrieved parties are the State and the private offended
Administrative Code explicitly provides that the OSG party or complainant. The complainant has an interest in
shall represent the Government of the Philippines, its the civil aspect of the case so he may file such special
agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and civil action questioning the decision or action of the
agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or respondent court on jurisdictional grounds. In so doing,
matter requiring the services of lawyers. It shall have complainant should not bring the action in the name of
specific powers and functions to represent the the People of the Philippines. The action may be
Government and its officers in the Supreme Court and prosecuted in [the] name of said complainant.
the CA, and all other courts or tribunals in all civil actions
and special proceedings in which the Government or any Thus, the Court has definitively ruled that in a criminal
officer thereof in his official capacity is a party. The OSG case in which the offended party is the State, the
is the law office of the Government. interest of the private complainant or the private
offended party is limited to the civil liability arising
To be sure, in criminal cases, the acquittal of the accused therefrom. If a criminal case is dismissed by the trial
or the dismissal of the case against him can only be court or if there is an acquittal, an appeal of the criminal
appealed by the Solicitor General, acting on behalf of the aspect may be undertaken, whenever legally feasible,
State. The private complainant or the offended party only by the State through the Solicitor General. As a rule,
may question such acquittal or dismissal only insofar as only the Solicitor General may represent the People of
the civil liability of the accused is concerned. In a catena the Philippines on appeal. The private offended party or
of cases, this view has been time and again espoused complainant may not undertake such appeal.16
and maintained by the Court. In Rodriguez v. Gadiane, it
was categorically stated that if the criminal case is In the case at bar, the petition filed essentially assails the
dismissed by the trial court or if there is an acquittal, the criminal, not the civil, aspect of the CA Decision. It must
appeal on the criminal aspect of the case must be even be stressed that petitioner never challenged before
instituted by the Solicitor General in behalf of the State. the CA, and in this Court, the RTC judgment which
The capability of the private complainant to question absolved respondent Aliga from civil liability in view of
such dismissal or acquittal is limited only to the civil the return of the ₱60,000.00 subject matter of the
aspect of the case. The same determination was also offense on October 30, 1996. Therefore, the petition
arrived at by the Court in Metropolitan Bank and Trust should have been filed only by the State through the
Company v. Veridiano II. In the recent case of Bangayan, OSG. Petitioner lacks the personality or legal standing to
Jr. v. Bangayan, the Court again upheld this guiding question the CA Decision because it is only the OSG
principle. which can bring actions on behalf of the State in criminal
proceedings before the Supreme Court and the CA.
Worthy of note is the case of People v. Santiago, Unlike in Montañez v. Cipriano17where we adopted a
wherein the Court had the occasion to bring this issue to liberal view, the OSG, in its Comment on this
rest. The Court elucidated: case,18 neither prayed that the petition be granted nor
expressly ratified and adopted as its own the petition for
It is well settled that in criminal cases where the the People of the Philippines. Instead, it merely begged
offended party is the State, the interest of the private to excuse itself from filing a Comment due to conflict of
complainant or the private offended party is limited to interest and for not having been impleaded in the case.
the civil liability. Thus, in the prosecution of the offense,
the complainant's role is limited to that of a witness for A judgment of acquittal may be
the prosecution. If a criminal case is dismissed by the assailed only in a petition for certiorari
trial court or if there is an acquittal, an appeal therefrom under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court
on the criminal aspect may be undertaken only by the
State through the Solicitor General. Only the Solicitor Petitioner also committed another procedural blunder. A
General may represent the People of the Philippines on petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules should
appeal. The private offended party or complainant may have been filed instead of herein petition for review on
not take such appeal. However, the said offended party certiorari under Rule 45. The People may assail a
or complainant may appeal the civil aspect despite the judgment of acquittal only via petition for certiorari
acquittal of the accused. under Rule 65 of the Rules. If the petition, regardless of
its nomenclature, merely calls for an ordinary review of
the findings of the court a quo, the constitutional right of
the accused against double jeopardy would be jurisdiction. Grave abuse of discretion generally refers to
violated.19 The Court made this clear in People v. capricious or whimsical exercise of judgment as is
Sandiganbayan (First Div.),20 thus: equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion
must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion
x x x A petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of of a positive duty or virtual refusal to perform a duty
the Rules of Court and a petition for certiorari under imposed by law, or to act in contemplation of law or
Rule 65 of the Rules of Court are two and separate where the power is exercised in an arbitrary and
remedies. A petition under Rule 45 brings up for review despotic manner by reason of passion and hostility. No
errors of judgment, while a petition for certiorari under grave abuse of discretion may be attributed to a court
Rule 65 covers errors of jurisdiction or grave abuse of simply because of its alleged misapplication of facts and
discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction. evidence, and erroneous conclusions based on said
Grave abuse of discretion is not an allowable ground evidence. Certiorari will issue only to correct errors of
under Rule 45. A petition for review under Rule 45 of the jurisdiction, and not errors or mistakes in the findings
Rules of Court is a mode of appeal. Under Section 1 of and conclusions of the trial court.21
the said Rule, a party aggrieved by the decision or final
order of the Sandiganbayan may file a petition for The nature of certiorari action was expounded in People
review on certiorari with this Court: v. Court of Appeals (Fifteenth Div.):22

Section 1. Filing of petition with Supreme Court. - A party x x x Certiorari alleging grave abuse of discretion is an
desiring to appeal by certiorari from a judgment or final extraordinary remedy. Its use is confined to
order or resolution of the Court of Appeals, the extraordinary cases wherein the action of the inferior
Sandiganbayan, the Regional Trial Court, or other courts court is wholly void. Its aim is to keep the inferior court
whenever authorized by law, may file with the Supreme within the parameters of its jurisdiction or to prevent it
Court a verified petition for review on certiorari. The from committing such a grave abuse of discretion
petition shall raise only questions of law which must be amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. No grave
distinctly set forth. abuse of discretion may be attributed to the court
simply because of its alleged misappreciation of facts
However, the provision must be read in relation to and evidence. While certiorari may be used to correct an
Section 1, Rule 122 of the Revised Rules of Court, which abusive acquittal, the petitioner in such extraordinary
provides that any party may appeal from a judgment or proceeding must clearly demonstrate that the lower
final order "unless the accused will thereby be placed in court blatantly abused its authority to a point so grave as
double jeopardy." The judgment that may be appealed to deprive it of its very power to dispense justice.23
by the aggrieved party envisaged in the Rule is a
judgment convicting the accused, and not a judgment of and further in First Corporation v. Former Sixth Division
acquittal. The State is barred from appealing such of the Court of Appeals:24
judgment of acquittal by a petition for review.
It is a fundamental aphorism in law that a review of facts
Section 21, Article III of the Constitution provides that and evidence is not the province of the extraordinary
"no person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment remedy of certiorari, which is extra ordinem – beyond
for the same offense." The rule is that a judgment the ambit of appeal. In certiorari proceedings, judicial
acquitting the accused is final and immediately review does not go as far as to examine and assess the
executory upon its promulgation, and that accordingly, evidence of the parties and to weigh the probative value
the State may not seek its review without placing the thereof. It does not include an inquiry as to the
accused in double jeopardy. Such acquittal is final and correctness of the evaluation of evidence. x x x It is not
unappealable on the ground of double jeopardy whether for this Court to re-examine conflicting evidence, re-
it happens at the trial court or on appeal at the CA. Thus, evaluate the credibility of the witnesses or substitute the
the State is proscribed from appealing the judgment of findings of fact of the court a quo.25
acquittal of the accused to this Court under Rule 45 of
the Rules of Court. The case does not fall within the
exception to rule on double jeopardy
xxxx
Indeed, a judgment of acquittal, whether ordered by the
A judgment of acquittal may be assailed by the People in trial or the appellate court, is final, unappealable, and
a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of immediately executory upon its promulgation.26 The
Court without placing the accused in double jeopardy. rationale for the rule is elucidated in the oft-cited case of
However, in such case, the People is burdened to People v. Hon. Velasco:27
establish that the court a quo, in this case, the
Sandiganbayan, acted without jurisdiction or grave The fundamental philosophy highlighting the finality of
abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of an acquittal by the trial court cuts deep into "the
humanity of the laws and in a jealous watchfulness over hope of securing a conviction. And finally, it prevents the
the rights of the citizen, when brought in unequal State, following conviction, from retrying the defendant
contest with the State. x x x." Thus, Green expressed the again in the hope of securing a greater penalty. In People
concern that "(t)he underlying idea, one that is deeply v. Velasco, we stressed that an acquitted defendant is
ingrained in at least the Anglo-American system of entitled to the right of repose as a direct consequence of
jurisprudence, is that the State with all its resources and the finality of his acquittal x x x.30
power should not be allowed to make repeated
attempts to convict an individual for an alleged offense, However, the rule against double jeopardy is not
thereby subjecting him to embarrassment, expense and without exceptions, which are: (1) Where there has been
ordeal and compelling him to live in a continuing state of deprivation of due process and where there is a finding
anxiety and insecurity, as well as enhancing the of a mistrial, or (2) Where there has been a grave abuse
possibility that even though innocent, he may be found of discretion under exceptional
guilty." circumstances.31 Unfortunately for petitioner, We find
that these exceptions do not exist in this case.
It is axiomatic that on the basis of humanity, fairness and
justice, an acquitted defendant is entitled to the right of First, there is no deprivation of due process or a
repose as a direct consequence of the finality of his mistrial.1âwphi1 In fact, petitioner did not make any
acquittal. The philosophy underlying this rule allegation to that effect. What the records show is that
establishing the absolute nature of acquittals is "part of during the trial, both parties had more than sufficient
the paramount importance criminal justice system occasions to be heard and to present their evidence. The
attaches to the protection of the innocent against same is true during the appeal before the CA. The State,
wrongful conviction." The interest in the finality-of- represented by the OSG, was not deprived of a fair
acquittal rule, confined exclusively to verdicts of not opportunity to prove its case.
guilty, is easy to understand: it is a need for "repose," a
desire to know the exact extent of one's liability. With And second, no grave abuse of discretion could be
this right of repose, the criminal justice system has built attributed to the CA. It could not be said that its
in a protection to insure that the innocent, even those judgment was issued without jurisdiction, and, for this
whose innocence rests upon a jury’s leniency, will not be reason, void. Again, petitioner did not even allege that
found guilty in a subsequent proceeding. the CA gravely abused its discretion. Instead, what he
asserted was that the CA "gravely erred" in the
Related to his right of repose is the defendant’s interest evaluation and assessment of the evidence presented by
in his right to have his trial completed by a particular the parties. Certainly, what he questioned was the
tribunal. This interest encompasses his right to have his purported errors of judgment or those involving
guilt or innocence determined in a single proceeding by misappreciation of evidence or errors of law, which, as
the initial jury empanelled to try him, for society’s aforesaid, cannot be raised and be reviewed in a Rule 65
awareness of the heavy personal strain which the petition. To repeat, a writ of certiorari can only correct
criminal trial represents for the individual defendant is errors of jurisdiction or those involving the commission
manifested in the willingness to limit Government to a of grave abuse of discretion, not those which call for the
single criminal proceeding to vindicate its very vital evaluation of evidence and factual findings.
interest in enforcement of criminal laws. The ultimate
goal is prevention of government oppression; the goal x x x Any error committed in the evaluation of evidence
finds its voice in the finality of the initial proceeding. As is merely an error of judgment that cannot be remedied
observed in Lockhart v. Nelson, "(t)he fundamental tenet by certiorari. An error of judgment is one in which the
animating the Double Jeopardy Clause is that the State court may commit in the exercise of its jurisdiction. An
should not be able to oppress individuals through the error of jurisdiction is one where the act complained of
abuse of the criminal process." Because the innocence of was issued by the court without or in excess of
the accused has been confirmed by a final judgment, the jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion which is
Constitution conclusively presumes that a second trial tantamount to lack or in excess of jurisdiction and which
would be unfair.28 error is correctible only by the extraordinary writ of
certiorari. Certiorari will not be issued to cure errors by
People v. Court of Appeals (Fifteenth Div.)29 also stated: the trial court in its appreciation of the evidence of the
parties, and its conclusions anchored on the said findings
x x x The finality-of-acquittal doctrine has several and its conclusions of law. Since no error of jurisdiction
avowed purposes. Primarily, it prevents the State from can be attributed to public respondent in her
using its criminal processes as an instrument of assessment of the evidence, certiorari will not lie.32
harassment to wear out the accused by a multitude of
cases with accumulated trials. It also serves the Upon perusal of the records, it is Our considered view
additional purpose of precluding the State, following an that the conclusions arrived at by the CA cannot, by any
acquittal, from successively retrying the defendant in the measure, be characterized as capricious, whimsical or
arbitrary. While it may be argued that there have been
instances where the appreciation of facts might have
resulted from possible lapses in the evaluation of the
evidence, nothing herein detracts from the fact that
relevant and material evidence was scrutinized,
considered and evaluated as proven by the CA’s lengthy
discussion of its opinion. We note that the petition
basically raises issues pertaining to alleged errors of
judgment not errors of jurisdiction which is tantamount
to an appeal contrary to the express injunction of the
Constitution the Rules of Court and prevailing
jurisprudence. Conformably then we need not embark
upon review of the factual and evidentiary issues raised
by petitioner as these are obviously not within the realm
of Our jurisdiction.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED for lack


of merit. The acquittal of herein respondent Consuelo C.
Aliga by the Court of Appeals in its April 27, 2004
Decision and August 10, 2004 Resolution in CA-G.R. CR
No. 25581 entitled People of the Philippines v. Consuelo
Cruz Aliga is AFFIRMED.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 160451 February 9, 2007 also denied having withdrawn any amount from said
savings account. Further investigation revealed that said
EDUARDO G. RICARZE, Petitioner, savings account had actually been opened by petitioner;
vs. the forged checks were deposited and endorsed by him
COURT OF APPEALS, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, under Gutierrez’s name. A bank teller from the Banco de
CALTEX PHILIPPINES, INC., PHILIPPINE COMMERCIAL Oro, Winnie P. Donable Dela Cruz, positively identified
AND INDUSTRIAL BANK (PCIBANK), Respondents. petitioner as the person who opened the savings
account using Gutierrez’s name.4
DECISION
In the meantime, the PCIB credited the amount of
CALLEJO, SR., J.: ₱581,229.00 to Caltex on March 29, 1998. However, the
City Prosecutor of Makati City was not informed of this
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari of development. After the requisite preliminary
the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. investigation, the City Prosecutor filed two (2)
68492, and its Resolution2 which denied the Motion for Informations for estafa through falsification of
Reconsideration and the Supplemental Motion for commercial documents on June 29, 1998 against
Reconsideration thereof. petitioner before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Makati City, Branch 63. The Informations are worded as
The Antecedents follows:

Petitioner Eduardo G. Ricarze was employed as a Criminal Case No. 98-1611


collector-messenger by City Service Corporation, a
domestic corporation engaged in messengerial services. That on or about the 24th day of September 1997 in the
He was assigned to the main office of Caltex Philippines, City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, a place within
Inc. (Caltex) in Makati City. His primary task was to the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-
collect checks payable to Caltex and deliver them to the named accused, a private individual, with intent to
cashier. He also delivered invoices to Caltex’s defraud and intent to gain, without the knowledge and
customers.3 consent of Caltex Philippines, Inc. through its duly
authorized officers/representatives, and by means of
On November 6, 1997, Caltex, through its Banking and falsification of commercial document, did then and there
Insurance Department Manager Ramon Romano, filed a willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud Caltex Phils.,
criminal complaint against petitioner before the Office of Inc., in the following manner, to wit: said accused,
the City Prosecutor of Makati City for estafa through having obtained possession of PCIBank check no. 72922
falsification of commercial documents. Romano alleged dated September 15, 1997 payable to Dante R.
that, on October 16, 1997, while his department was Gutierrez, in the amount of Php1,790,757.50 with intent
conducting a daily electronic report from Philippine to defraud or cause damage to complainant Caltex Phils.,
Commercial & Industrial Bank (PCIB) Dela Rosa, Makati Inc., willfully, unlawfully and feloniously affixed or
Branch, one of its depositary banks, it was discovered caused to be affixed signatures purporting to be those of
that unknown to the department, a company check, Ramon Romano and Victor Goquingco, Caltex authorized
Check No. 74001 dated October 13, 1997 in the amount officers/signatories, and of payee Dante R. Gutierrez,
of ₱5,790,570.25 payable to Dante R. Gutierrez, had causing it to appear that Ramon Romano and Victor
been cleared through PCIB on October 15, 1997. An Goquingco have participated in the issuance of PCIBank
investigation also revealed that two other checks (Check check no. 72922 and that Dante R. Gutierrez had
Nos. 73999 and 74000) were also missing and that in endorsed it, when in truth and in fact, as said accused
Check No. 74001, his signature and that of another well knew, such was not the case, since said check
signatory, Victor S. Goquinco, were forgeries. Another previously stolen from Payables Section of CALTEX, was
check, Check No. 72922 dated September 15, 1997 in neither duly signed by Ramon Romano and Victor
the amount of ₱1,790,757.25 likewise payable to Dante Goquingco nor endorsed by Dante R. Gutierrez, after the
R. Gutierrez, was also cleared through the same bank on check, a commercial document, was falsified in the
September 24, 1997; this check was likewise not issued manner above set forth, the said accused purporting
by Caltex, and the signatures appearing thereon had also himself to be the payee, Dante R. Gutierrez, deposited
been forged. Upon verification, it was uncovered that the check with Banco De Oro under Account No. 2004-
Check Nos. 74001 and 72922 were deposited at the 0047245-7, thereby appropriating the proceeds of the
Banco de Oro’s SM Makati Branch under Savings falsified but cleared check, to the damage and prejudice
Account No. S/A 2004-0047245-7, in the name of a of complainant herein represented by Ramon Romano,
regular customer of Caltex, Dante R. Gutierrez. in the amount of Php1,790,757.50.

Gutierrez, however, disowned the savings account as Criminal Case No. 98-1612
well as his signatures on the dorsal portions thereof. He
That on or about the 15th day of October 1997 in the that the amendments of the Informations to substitute
City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, a place within PCIB as the offended party for Caltex would place him in
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above- double jeopardy.
named accused, a private individual, with intent to
defraud and intent to gain, without the knowledge and PCIB, through SRMO, opposed the motion. It contended
consent of Caltex Philippines, Inc. through its duly that the PCIB had re-credited the amount to Caltex to
authorized officers/representatives, and by means of the extent of the indemnity; hence, the PCIB had been
falsification of commercial document, did then and there subrogated to the rights and interests of Caltex as
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud Caltex Phils., private complainant. Consequently, the PCIB is entitled
Inc., in the following manner, to wit: said accused, to receive any civil indemnity which the trial court would
having obtained possession of PCIBank check no. 74001 adjudge against the accused. Moreover, the re-credited
dated October 13, 1997 payable to Dante R. Gutierrez, in amount was brought out on cross-examination by
the amount of Php5,790,570.25 with intent to defraud Ramon Romano who testified for the Prosecution. PCIB
or cause damage to complainant Caltex Phils., Inc., pointed out that petitioner had marked in evidence the
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously affixed or caused to letter of the ACCRA Law Office to PCIBank dated October
be affixed signatures purporting to be those of Ramon 10, 1997 and the credit memo sent by PCIB to Caltex.9
Romano and Victor Goquingco, Caltex authorized
officers/signatories, and of payee Dante R. Gutierrez, Petitioner filed a Motion to Expunge the Opposition of
causing it to appear that Ramon Romano and Victor SRMO.10 In his Rejoinder, he averred that the
Goquingco have participated in the issuance of PCIBank substitution of PCIB as private complainant cannot be
check no. 74001 and that Dante R. Gutierrez had made by mere oral motion; the Information must be
endorsed it, when in truth and in fact, as said accused amended to allege that the private complainant was
well knew, such was not the case, since said check PCIB and not Caltex after the preliminary investigation of
previously stolen from Payables Section of CALTEX, was the appropriate complaint of PCIB before the Makati City
neither duly signed by Ramon Romano and Victor Prosecutor.
Goquingco nor endorsed by Dante R. Gutierrez, after the
check, a commercial document, was falsified in the In response, the PCIB, through SRMO, averred that as
manner above set forth, the said accused purporting provided in Section 2, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of
himself to be the payee, Dante R. Gutierrez, deposited Criminal Procedure, the erroneous designation of the
the check with Banco De Oro under Account No. 2004- name of the offended party is a mere formal defect
0047245-7, thereby appropriating the proceeds of the which can be cured by inserting the name of the
falsified but cleared check, to the damage and prejudice offended party in the Information. To support its claim,
of complainant herein represented by Ramon Romano, PCIB cited the ruling of this Court in Sayson v. People.11
in the amount of Php5,790,570.25.5
On July 18, 2001, the RTC issued an Order granting the
Petitioner was arraigned on August 18, 1998, and motion of the private prosecutor for the substitution of
pleaded not guilty to both charges.6 Pre-trial ensued and PCIB as private complainant for Caltex. It however
the cases were jointly tried. The prosecution presented denied petitioner’s motion to have the formal offer of
its witnesses, after which the Siguion Reyna, Montecillio evidence of SRMO expunged from the
and Ongsiako Law Offices (SRMO) as private prosecutor record.12 Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration
filed a Formal Offer of Evidence.7 Petitioner opposed the which the RTC denied on November 14, 2001.13
pleading, contending that the private complainant was
represented by the ACCRA Law Offices and the Balgos Petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of
and Perez Law Office during trial, and it was only after the Rules of Court with Urgent Application for
the prosecution had rested its case that SRMO entered Temporary Restraining Order with the Court of Appeals
its appearance as private prosecutor representing the (CA,) praying for the annulment of the RTC’s Orders of
PCIB. Since the ACCRA and Balgos and Perez Law Offices July 18, 2001 and November 14, 2001. The petitioner
had not withdrawn their appearance, SRMO had no averred that:
personality to appear as private prosecutor. Under the
Informations, the private complainant is Caltex and not
I
PCIB; hence, the Formal Offer of Evidence filed by SRMO
should be stricken from the records.
RESPONDENT JUDGE GRIEVEOUSLY (SIC) ERRED IN
RENDERING ITS ORDER ISSUED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF
Petitioner further averred that unless the Informations
DISCRETION TANTAMOUNT TO LACK OF OR IN EXCESS
were amended to change the private complainant to
OF JURISDICTION BY ALLOWING THE SUBSTITUTION OF
PCIB, his right as accused would be prejudiced. He
PRIVATE COMPLAINANT, AFTER THE ACUSED WAS
pointed out, however, that the Informations can no
ALREADY ARRAIGNED AND PROSECUTION HAS ALREADY
longer be amended because he had already been
TERMINATED PRESENTING ITS EVIDENCE THEREBY
arraigned under the original Informations.8 He insisted
PATENTLY VIOLATING THE STRICT CONDITION IMPOSED
UPON BY RULE 110 SEC. 14 RULES ON CRIMINAL III. THE SUBSTITUTION OF PCIBANK WILL
ROCEDURE. SUBSTANTIALLY PREJUDICE THE RIGHTS OF THE
PETITIONER HENCE, IT IS PROHIBITED BY SEC. 14
II OF RULE 110.

AND AS A COROLLARY GROUND RESPONDENT JUDGE IV. THERE IS NO VALID SUBROGATION BETWEEN
COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN EXCESS CALTEX AND PCIBANK. ASSUMING THERE IS,
OF JURISDICTION IN RENDERING AN ORDER THE CIVIL CASE SHOULD BE DISMISSED TO
RECOGNIZING THE APPEARANCE OF A NEW PROSECUTE.
PROSECUTOR WITHOUT WRITTEN OR EVEN ORAL
WITHDRAWAL OF THE COUNSEL ON RECORD.14 V. THE TWIN INFORMATIONS UPON WHICH
PETITIONER WAS INDICTED, ARRAIGNED, PRE-
According to petitioner, damage or injury to the TRIAL HELD AND PUBLIC PROSECUTOR
offended party is an essential element of estafa. The TERMINATED THE PRESENTATION OF ITS
amendment of the Informations substituting the EVIDENCE IN CHIEF ARE DEFECTIVE AND VOID,
PCIBank for Caltex as the offended party would HENCE THE DISMISSAL IS IN ORDER.
prejudice his rights since he is deprived of a defense
available before the amendment, and which would be VI. PETITIONER TIMELY OBJECTED TO THE
unavailable if the Informations are amended. Petitioner APPEARANCE OF PRIVATE PROSECUTOR FOR
further insisted that the ruling in the Sayson case did not PCIBANK.
apply to this case.
VII. THE FINDINGS OF MATERIAL FACTS ARE NOT
On November 5, 2002, the appellate court rendered SUPORTED BY THE RECORD NOR EVIDENCE AND
judgment dismissing the petition. The fallo reads: BASED ON MISAPPRECIATION OF FACTS.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition to annul VIII. PETITIONER’S SUPPLEMENTAL MOTION FOR
the orders dated July 18, 2001 and November 14, 2001 RECONSIDERATION DID NOT VIOLATE THE
of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 63, Makati City in OMNIBUS MOTION RULE UNDER SEC. 8, RULE
Criminal Case Nos. 98-1611 and 98-1612 is hereby 15 OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE.19
DENIED and consequently DISMISSED.
The Court’s Ruling
SO ORDERED.15
Petitioner argues that the substitution of Caltex by PCIB
The appellate court declared that when PCIB restored as private complainant at this late stage of the trial is
the amount of the checks to Caltex, it was subrogated to prejudicial to his defense. He argues that the
the latter’s right against petitioner. It further declared substitution is tantamount to a substantial amendment
that in offenses against property, the designation of the of the Informations which is prohibited under Section
name of the offended party is not absolutely 14, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court.
indispensable for as long as the criminal act charged in
the complaint or information can be properly identified. Under Section 5, Rule 11020 of the Revised Rules of
The appellate court cited the rulings of this Court in Rules, all criminal actions covered by a complaint or
People v. Ho16 and People v. Reyes.17 information shall be prosecuted under the direct
supervision and control of the public prosecutor. Thus,
On October 17, 2003, the CA issued a Resolution denying even if the felonies or delictual acts of the accused result
petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration and in damage or injury to another, the civil action for the
Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration.18 recovery of civil liability based on the said criminal acts is
impliedly instituted, and the offended party has not
Hence, petitioner filed the instant petition which is waived the civil action, reserved the right to institute it
anchored on the following grounds: separately or instituted the civil action prior to the
criminal action, the prosecution of the action (including
I. THE PEOPLE V. YU CHAI HO 53 PHILIPPINES the civil) remains under the control and supervision of
874 IS INAPPLICABLE TO THE CASE AT BAR the public prosecutor. The prosecution of offenses is a
CONSIDERING THE PACTS ARE SUBSTANTIALLY public function. Under Section 16, Rule 110 of the Rules
DIFFERENT. of Criminal Procedure, the offended party may intervene
in the criminal action personally or by counsel, who will
II. LIKEWISE, THE CASE OF PEOPLE VS. REYES CA, act as private prosecutor for the protection of his
50 (2) OG 665, NOVEMBER 11, 1953 HAS NO interests and in the interest of the speedy and
MATERIAL BEARING TO THE PRESENT CASE. inexpensive administration of justice. A separate action
for the purpose would only prove to be costly,
burdensome and time-consuming for both parties and A substantial amendment consists of the recital of facts
further delay the final disposition of the case. The constituting the offense charged and determinative of
multiplicity of suits must be avoided. With the implied the jurisdiction of the court. All other matters are merely
institution of the civil action in the criminal action, the of form.24 The following have been held to be mere
two actions are merged into one composite proceeding, formal amendments: (1) new allegations which relate
with the criminal action predominating the civil. The only to the range of the penalty that the court might
prime purpose of the criminal action is to punish the impose in the event of conviction; (2) an amendment
offender in order to deter him and others from which does not charge another offense different or
committing the same or similar offense, to isolate him distinct from that charged in the original one; (3)
from society, reform and rehabilitate him or, in general, additional allegations which do not alter the
to maintain social order.21 prosecution’s theory of the case so as to cause surprise
to the accused and affect the form of defense he has or
On the other hand, the sole purpose of the civil action is will assume; (4) an amendment which does not
for the resolution, reparation or indemnification of the adversely affect any substantial right of the accused; and
private offended party for the damage or injury he (5) an amendment that merely adds specifications to
sustained by reason of the delictual or felonious act of eliminate vagueness in the information and not to
the accused.22 Under Article 104 of the Revised Penal introduce new and material facts, and merely states with
Code, the following are the civil liabilities of the accused: additional precision something which is already
contained in the original information and which adds
ART. 104. What is included in civil liability. – The civil nothing essential for conviction for the crime charged.25
liability established in Articles 100, 101, 102 and 103 of
this Code includes: The test as to whether a defendant is prejudiced by the
amendment is whether a defense under the information
1. Restitution; as it originally stood would be available after the
amendment is made, and whether any evidence
2. Reparation of the damage caused; defendant might have would be equally applicable to the
information in the one form as in the other. An
3. Indemnification for consequential damages. amendment to an information which does not change
the nature of the crime alleged therein does not affect
the essence of the offense or cause surprise or deprive
On the other hand, Section 14, Rule 110 of the Revised
the accused of an opportunity to meet the new
Rules of Criminal Procedure states:
averment had each been held to be one of form and not
of substance.26
Section 14. Amendment or substitution. – A complaint or
information may be amended, in form or in substance,
In the case at bar, the substitution of Caltex by PCIB as
without leave of court, at any time before the accused
private complaint is not a substantial amendment. The
enters his plea. After the plea and during the trial, a
substitution did not alter the basis of the charge in both
formal amendment may only be made with leave of
Informations, nor did it result in any prejudice to
court and when it can be done without causing prejudice
petitioner. The documentary evidence in the form of the
to the rights of the accused.
forged checks remained the same, and all such evidence
was available to petitioner well before the trial. Thus, he
However, any amendment before plea, which
cannot claim any surprise by virtue of the substitution.
downgrades the nature of the offense charged in or
excludes any accused from the complaint or information,
Petitioner next argues that in no way was PCIB
can be made only upon motion by the prosecutor, with
subrogated to the rights of Caltex, considering that he
notice to the offended party and with leave of court. The
has no knowledge of the subrogation much less gave his
court shall state its reasons in resolving the motion and
consent to it. Alternatively, he posits that if subrogation
copies of its order shall be furnished all parties,
was proper, then the charges against him should be
especially the offended party.
dismissed, the two Informations being "defective and
void due to false allegations."
Thus, before the accused enters his plea, a formal or
substantial amendment of the complaint or information
Petitioner was charged of the crime of estafa complex
may be made without leave of court. After the entry of a
with falsification document. In estafa one of the
plea, only a formal amendment may be made but with
essential elements "to prejudice of another" as
leave of court and if it does not prejudice the rights of
mandated by article 315 of the Revise Penal Code.
the accused. After arraignment, a substantial
amendment is proscribed except if the same is beneficial
to the accused.23 The element of "to the prejudice of another" being as
essential element of the felony should be clearly
indicated and charged in the information with TRUTH Contrary to petitioner’s asseverations, the case of
AND LEGAL PRECISION. People v. Yu Chai Ho32 relied upon by the appellate court
is in point. The Court declared –
This is not so in the case of petitioner, the twin
information filed against him alleged the felony We do not however, think that the fiscal erred in alleging
committed " to the damage and prejudice of Caltex." that the commission of the crime resulted to the
This allegation is UNTRUE and FALSE for there is no prejudice of Wm. H. Anderson & Co. It is true that
question that as early as March 24, 1998 or THREE (3) originally the International Banking Corporation was the
LONG MONTHS before the twin information were filed prejudiced party, but Wm. H. Anderson & Co.
on June 29, 1998, the prejudice party is already PCIBank compensated it for its loss and thus became subrogated
since the latter Re-Credit the value of the checks to to all its rights against the defendant (article 1839, Civil
Caltex as early as March 24, 1998. In effect, assuming Code). Wm. H. Anderson & Co., therefore, stood exactly
there is valid subrogation as the subject decision in the shoes of the International Banking Corporation in
concluded, the subrogation took place an occurred on relation to the defendant's acts, and the commission of
March 24, 1998 THREE (3) MONTHS before the twin the crime resulted to the prejudice of the firm previously
information were filed. to the filing of the information in the case. The loss
suffered by the firm was the ultimate result of the
The phrase "to the prejudice to another" as element of defendant's unlawful acts, and we see no valid reason
the felony is limited to the person DEFRAUDED in the why this fact should not be stated in the information; it
very act of embezzlement. It should not be expanded to stands to reason that, in the crime of estafa, the damage
other persons which the loss may ultimately fall as a resulting therefrom need not necessarily occur
result of a contract which contract herein petitioner is simultaneously with the acts constituting the other
total stranger. essential elements of the crime.

In this case, there is no question that the very act of Thus, being subrogated to the right of Caltex, PCIB,
commission of the offense of September 24, 1997 and through counsel, has the right to intervene in the
October 15, 1997 respectively, Caltex was the one proceedings, and under substantive laws is entitled to
defrauded by the act of the felony. restitution of its properties or funds, reparation, or
indemnification.
In the light of these facts, petitioner submits that the
twin information are DEFECTIVE AND VOID due to the Petitioner’s gripe that the charges against him should be
FALSE ALLEGATIONS that the offense was committed to dismissed because the allegations in both Informations
the prejudice of Caltex when it truth and in fact the one failed to name PCIB as true offended party does not hold
prejudiced here was PCIBank. water.

The twin information being DEFECTIVE AND VOID, the Section 6, Rule 110 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure
same should be dismissed without prejudice to the filing states:
of another information which should state the offense
was committed to the prejudice of PCIBank if it still Sec. 6. Sufficiency of complaint or information. – A
legally possible without prejudicing substantial and complaint or information is sufficient if it states the
statutory rights of the petitioner.27 name of the accused; the designation of the offense by
the statute; the acts or omissions complained of as
Petitioner’s argument on subrogation is misplaced. The constituting the offense; the name of the offended
Court agrees with respondent PCIB’s comment that party; the approximate time of the commission of the
petitioner failed to make a distinction between legal and offense; and the place wherein the offense was
conventional subrogation. Subrogation is the transfer of committed.
all the rights of the creditor to a third person, who
substitutes him in all his rights.28 It may either be legal or When the offense is committed by more than one
conventional. Legal subrogation is that which takes place person, all of them shall be included in the complaint or
without agreement but by operation of law because of information.
certain acts.29 Instances of legal subrogation are those
provided in Article 130230 of the Civil Code. Conventional On the other hand, Section 12 of the same Rule
subrogation, on the other hand, is that which takes place provides:
by agreement of the parties.31 Thus, petitioner’s
acquiescence is not necessary for subrogation to take Section. 12. Name of the offended party. –The complaint
place because the instant case is one of legal or information must state the name and surname of the
subrogation that occurs by operation of law, and person against whom or against whose property the
without need of the debtor’s knowledge. offense was committed, or any appellation or nickname
by which such person has been or is known. If there is no
better way of identifying him, he must be described …
under a fictitious name.
In U.S. v. Kepner [1 Phil. 519 (1902)], this Court laid
(a) In offenses against property, if the name of down the rule that when an offense shall have been
the offended party is unknown, the property described in the complaint with sufficient certainty as to
must be described with such particularity as to Identify the act, an erroneous allegation as to the person
properly identify the offense charged. injured shall be deemed immaterial as the same is a
mere formal defect which did not tend to prejudice any
(b) If the true name of the person against whom substantial right of the defendant. Accordingly, in the
or against whose property the offense was aforementioned case, which had a factual backdrop
committed is thereafter disclosed or similar to the instant case, where the defendant was
ascertained, the court must cause such true charged with estafa for the misappropriation of the
name to be inserted in the complaint or proceeds of a warrant which he had cashed without
information and the record. authority, the erroneous allegation in the complaint to
the effect that the unlawful act was to the prejudice of
(c) If the offended party is a juridical person, it is the owner of the cheque, when in reality the bank which
sufficient to state its name, or any name or cashed it was the one which suffered a loss, was held to
designation by which it is known or by which it be immaterial on the ground that the subject matter of
may be identified, without need of averring that the estafa, the warrant, was described in the complaint
it is a juridical person or that it is organized in with such particularity as to properly Identify the
accordance with law. (12a) particular offense charged. In the instant suit for estafa
which is a crime against property under the Revised
In Sayson v. People,33 the Court held that in case of Penal Code, since the check, which was the subject-
offenses against property, the designation of the name matter of the offense, was described with such
of the offended party is not absolutely indispensable for particularity as to properly identify the offense charged,
as long as the criminal act charged in the complaint or it becomes immaterial, for purposes of convicting the
information can be properly identified: accused, that it was established during the trial that the
offended party was actually Mever Films and not Ernesto
The rules on criminal procedure require the complaint or Rufino, Sr. nor Bank of America as alleged in the
information to state the name and surname of the information.
person against whom or against whose property the
offense was committed or any appellation or nickname Lastly, on petitioner’s claim that he timely objected to
by which such person has been or is known and if there the appearance of SRMO34 as private prosecutor for
is no better way of Identifying him, he must be described PCIB, the Court agrees with the observation of the CA
under a fictitious name (Rule 110, Section 11, Revised that contrary to his claim, petitioner did not question the
Rules of Court; now Rule 110, Section 12 of the 1985 said entry of appearance even as the RTC acknowledged
Rules on Criminal Procedure.] In case of offenses against the same on October 8, 1999.35 Thus, petitioner cannot
property, the designation of the name of the offended feign ignorance or surprise of the incident, which are "all
party is not absolutely indispensable for as long as the water under the bridge for [his] failure to make a timely
criminal act charged in the complaint or information can objection thereto."36
be properly identified. Thus, Rule 110, Section 11 of the
Rules of Court provides that: WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed
decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals are
Section 11. Name of the offended party- AFFIRMED. This case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial
Court of Makati City, Branch 63, for further proceedings.

SO ORDERED.
(a) In cases of offenses against property, if the
name of the offended party is unknown, the
property, subject matter of the offense, must be
described with such particularity as to properly
Identify the particular offense charged.

(b) If in the course of the trial, the true name of


the person against whom or against whose
property the offense was committed is disclosed
or ascertained, the court must cause the true
name to be inserted in the complaint or
information or record.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, aggravating circumstance, hence, we said that the crime
vs. RODELIO AQUINO y RODA, accused-appellant. committed in Gario Alba was homicide and not
murder.[4] (Emphasis supplied)
RESOLUTION
However, the Court has repeatedly held,[5] even
PER CURIAM: after the recent amendments to the Rules of Criminal
Procedure, that qualifying circumstances need not be
Appellant Rodelio Aquino y Roda filed this Motion preceded by descriptive words such as qualifying or
for Reconsideration asking the Court to reconsider its qualified by to properly qualify an offense. The Court has
Decision of April 17, 2002, which held him guilty of repeatedly qualified cases of rape[6] where the twin
qualified rape. The relevant portion of the Decision circumstances of minority and relationship have been
reads: specifically alleged in the Information even without the
use of the descriptive words qualifying or qualified by.
To warrant the imposition of the supreme penalty of
death in qualified rape under Article 266-B (1) of the In the recent case of People v. Lab-eo,[7] the
Revised Penal Code, the concurrence of the minority of appellant there questioned the decision of the lower
the victim and her relationship to the offender must be court raising the killing to murder. The appellant there
specifically alleged and proved with equal certainty as argued that he could only be convicted of homicide since
the crime itself. the Information merely stated that the aggravating
circumstances of evident premeditation, treachery,
In the instant case, the Information alleges that the abuse of superior strength and craft attended the
child-victim was a five-year old minor and appellant was commission of the offense. The appellant also asserted
the child-victims uncle. The prosecution presented that since the circumstances were merely described as
Charlaines birth certificate to prove her age.This aggravating and not qualifying, he should only be
undisputed circumstance standing alone, qualifies the convicted of the lesser crime of homicide. On this score,
rape. Under Article 266-B (5) of the Revised Penal Code, the Court ruled that -
the death penalty is mandated in rape cases "when the
victim is a child below seven (7) years old. The qualifying The fact that the circumstances were described as
circumstance of relationship was also undisputedly aggravating instead of qualifying does not take the
proven by the prosecution. The child-victims mother, Information out of the purview of Article 248 of the
Winnie Bautista, testified in court that appellant is her Revised Penal Code. Article 248 does not use the word
brother, making appellant a blood relative of the victim qualifying or aggravating in enumerating the
within the third civil degree. Moreover, appellant circumstances that raise a killing to the category of
categorically admitted during trial that the child-victim is murder. Article 248 merely refers to the enumerated
his niece. (Decision, pp. 19-20) circumstances as the attendant circumstances. [8]

Appellant argues that he should only be convicted Article 266-B of the Revised Penal Code, as
of simple rape because while the age of the amended by RA No. 8353,[9] states that the death
complainant(s) as well as their relationship to the penalty shall be imposed in the crime of rape if any of
accused-appellant were (sic) stated in the the aggravating/qualifying circumstances mentioned in
Information(s), the same were not alleged particularly to Article 266-B is present. Prior to RA No. 8353, Article 335
qualify the offense charged.[1] Appellant contends that of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by RA No.
this failure to charge him specifically with the qualified 7659,[10] penalized qualified rape with the death penalty
offense bars the imposition of the death penalty upon when any of the attendant circumstances mentioned in
him. Article 335 was present. The present law uses the words
aggravating/qualifying circumstances in referring to the
We deny the Motion for Reconsideration. attendant circumstances that qualify rape to a heinous
Appellant anchors his Motion for Reconsideration crime punishable by death. The old law referred to these
on two recent cases -People v. Manlansing[2] and People circumstances as the attendant circumstances.
v. Alba.[3] In People v. Manlansing, the Court, The change in the wording did not make the use of
citing People v. Alba, disregarded the qualifying the words aggravating/qualifying circumstances an
circumstance of treachery, ruling that - essential element in specifying the crime in the
Information. As in the old law, the essential element that
We noted in Gario Alba, that although the circumstance raises rape to a heinous crime is the attendance of a
of treachery was stated in the Information, it was not circumstance mentioned in Article 266-B. As an essential
alleged with specificity as qualifying the killing to element of the heinous crime, such attendant
murder. Since the Information in Gario Alba failed to circumstance must be specifically alleged in the
specify treachery as a circumstance qualifying the killing Information to satisfy the constitutional requirement
to murder, treachery was considered only a generic
that the accused must be informed of the nature of the The rules require the qualifying circumstances to be
charge against him. specifically alleged in the Information in order to comply
with the constitutional right of the accused to be
The use of the words aggravating/qualifying
properly informed of the nature and cause of the
circumstances will not add any essential element to the
accusation against him.[12] The purpose is to allow the
crime. Neither will the use of such words further apprise
accused to prepare fully for his defense to prevent
the accused of the nature of the charge. The specific
surprises during the trial.[13]
allegation of the attendant circumstance in the
Information, coupled with the designation of the offense The Information in the instant case passes this
and a statement of the acts constituting the offense as test. The Information reads-
required in Sections 8 and 9 of Rule 110, is sufficient to
warn the accused that the crime charged is qualified Sometime in October 1999, in Taguig, Metro Manila and
rape punishable by death. within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
accused, being the uncle of the 5-year old Charlaine
The change in the wording from attendant
Bautista, with lewd designs, did then and there willfully,
circumstances to aggravating/qualifying circumstances
unlawfully, and feloniously have sexual intercourse with
did not signify a change in the law. As used in Article 335
said Charlaine Bautista, by then and there touching her
(old provision on qualified rape), the words attendant
vagina and inserting his penis in her vagina, against the
circumstances referred to the circumstances that
latters will and consent.
changed the nature of the crime when these
circumstances were present in the commission of the
crime. As used in Article 266-B (new provision on Contrary to law.
qualified rape), the words aggravating/qualifying
circumstances also refer to the circumstances that The Information clearly forewarns the accused that the
change the nature of the crime when these circumstances of minority and relationship attended the
circumstances are present in the commission of the commission of the crime. It specifically states that the
crime. The words aggravating circumstances include child-victim is a five-year old minor while also specifically
qualifying circumstances.[11] Qualifying circumstances are alleging that the accused is the child-victims uncle. These
aggravating circumstances which, by express provision of allegations, once proven beyond reasonable doubt,
law, change the nature of the crime to a higher qualify the rape to a heinous crime. The appellant never
category. The words attendant circumstances, which still raised in the trial court the argument that he was not
appear in Article 248 (raising homicide to murder), refer apprised of the charges against him because of an
to qualifying circumstances -those aggravating alleged defect in the Information. Not even in his
circumstances that, by express provision of law, change appellants brief did he remotely suggest that the
the nature of the crime when present in the commission Information was defective or insufficient.
of the crime. Section 8 of Rule 110 requires that the Information
Section 9, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal shall state the designation of the offense given by the
Procedure states that the- statute, aver the acts or omissions constituting the
offense, and specify its qualifying and aggravating
x x x qualifying and aggravating circumstances must be circumstances. (Emphasis supplied) Section 8 merely
stated in ordinary and concise language and not requires the Information to specify the
necessarily in the language used in the statute but in circumstances. Section 8 does not require the use of the
terms sufficient to enable a person of common words qualifying or qualified by to refer to the
understanding to know x x x (the) qualifying and circumstances which raise the category of an offense. It
aggravating circumstances x x x. is not the use of the words qualifying or qualified by that
raises a crime to a higher category, but the specific
allegation of an attendant circumstance which adds the
Thus, even the attendant circumstance itself, which is
essential element raising the crime to a higher category.
the essential element that raises the crime to a higher
category, need not be stated in the language of the In the instant case, the attendant circumstances of
law. With more reason, the words aggravating/qualifying minority and relationship were specifically alleged in the
circumstances as used in the law need not appear in the Information precisely to qualify the offense of simple
Information, especially since these words are merely rape to qualified rape.The absence of the words
descriptive of the attendant circumstances and do not qualifying or qualified by cannot prevent the rape from
constitute an essential element of the crime. These qualifying as a heinous crime provided these two
words are also not necessary in informing the accused circumstances are specifically alleged in the Information
that he is charged of a qualified crime. What properly and proved beyond reasonable doubt.
informs the accused of the nature of the crime charged
is the specific allegation of the circumstances mentioned We therefore reiterate that Sections 8 and 9 of Rule
in the law that raise the crime to a higher category. 110 merely require that the Information allege,
specify or enumerate the attendant circumstances
mentioned in the law to qualify the offense. These
circumstances need not be preceded by the words
aggravating/qualifying, qualifying, or qualified by to be
considered as qualifying circumstances. It is sufficient
that these circumstances be specified in the Information
to apprise the accused of the charges against him to
enable him to prepare fully for his defense, thus
precluding surprises during the trial.When the
prosecution specifically alleges in the Information the
circumstances mentioned in the law as qualifying the
crime, and succeeds in proving them beyond reasonable
doubt, the Court is constrained to impose the higher
penalty mandated by law. This includes the death
penalty in proper cases.
Unfortunately, this is one of those cases. The
allegation of the twin circumstances of minority and
relationship in the Information, which were proven
beyond reasonable doubt during the trial, compels the
Court to impose the death penalty.
To guide the bench and the bar, this Resolution
clarifies and resolves the issue of how to allege or
specify qualifying or aggravating circumstances in the
Information. The words aggravating/qualifying,
qualifying, qualified by, aggravating, or aggravated by
need not be expressly stated as long as the particular
attendant circumstances are specified in the
Information.
WHEREFORE, the Motion for Reconsideration is
DENIED and the Decision of the Court dated April 17,
2002 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. NO. 170863 : March 20, 2013 documentary evidence consisting of a security logbook
entry, delivery receipts, photographs, letters, and sworn
ENGR. ANTHONY V. ZAPANTA, Petitioner, v. PEOPLE OF affidavits. The prosecution's pieces of evidence, taken
THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. together, established the facts recited below.

DECISION In 2001, A. Mojica Construction and General Services


(AMCGS) undertook the Porta Vaga building
BRION, J.: construction in Session Road, Baguio City. AMCGS
subcontracted the fabrication and erection of the
We resolve the petition for review on certiorari1 filed by building's structural and steel framing to Anmar, owned
petitioner Engr. Anthony V. Zapanta, challenging the by the Marigondon family. Anmar ordered its
June 27, 2005 decision2 and the November 24, 2005 construction materials from Linton Commercial in Pasig
resolution3 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR City. It hired Junio Trucking to deliver the construction
No. 28369. The CA decision affirmed the January 12, materials to its project site in Baguio City. It assigned the
2004 decision4 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of petitioner as project manager with general managerial
Baguio City, Branch 3, in Criminal Case No. 20109-R, duties, including the receiving, custody, and checking of
convicting the petitioner of the crime of qualified theft. all building construction
The CA resolution denied the petitioner's motion for materials.8chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
reconsideration.
On two occasions in October 2001, the petitioner
The Factual Antecedents instructed Bernardo, Junio Trucking's truck driver, and
about 10 Anmar welders, including Cano and Buen, to
An April 26, 2002 Information filed with the RTC charged unload about 10 to 15 pieces of 20 feet long wide flange
the petitioner, together with Concordia O. Loyao, Jr., steel beams at Anmar's alleged new contract project
with the crime of qualified theft, committed as along Marcos Highway, Baguio City. Sometime in
follows:That sometime in the month of October, 2001, in November 2001, the petitioner again instructed
the City of Baguio, Philippines, and within the Bernardo and several welders, including Cano and Buen,
jurisdiction of [the] Honorable Court, xxx accused to unload about 5 to 16 pieces of 5 meters and 40 feet
ANTHONY V. ZAPANTA, being then the Project Manager long wide flange steel beams along Marcos Highway, as
of the Porta Vaga Building Construction, a project being well as on Mabini Street, Baguio
undertaken then by the Construction Firm, ANMAR, Inc. City.9chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
under sub-contract with A. Mojica Construction and
General Services, with the duty to manage and Sometime in January 2002, Engr. Nella Aquino, AMCGS'
implement the fabrication and erection of the structural project manager, informed Engr. Marigondon that
steel framing of the Porta Varga building including the several wide flange steel beams had been returned to
receipt, audit and checking of all construction materials Anmar's warehouse on October 12, 19, and 26, 2001, as
delivered at the job site a position of full trust and reflected in the security guard's logbook. Engr.
confidence, and CONCORDIO O. LOYAO, JR., alias "JUN", Marigondon contacted the petitioner to explain the
a telescopic crane operator of ANMAR, Inc., conspiring, return, but the latter simply denied that the reported
confederating, and mutually aiding one another, with return took place. Engr. Marigondon requested Marcelo,
grave abuse of confidence and with intent of gain, did her warehouseman, to conduct an inventory of the
then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take, construction materials at the project site. Marcelo
steal and carry away from the Porta Vaga project site learned from Cano that several wide flange steel beams
along Session road, Baguio City, wide flange steel beams had been unloaded along Marcos Highway. There,
of different sizes with a total value of P2,269,731.69 Marcelo found and took pictures of some of the missing
without the knowledge and consent of the owner steel beams. He reported the matter to the Baguio City
ANMAR, Inc., represented by its General Manager police headquarters and contacted Anmar to send a
LORNA LEVA MARIGONDON, to the damage and truck to retrieve the steel beams, but the truck came
prejudice of ANMAR, Inc., in the aforementioned sum weeks later and, by then, the steel beams could no
of P2,269,731.69, Philippine longer be found. The stolen steel beams amounted
Currency.5chanroblesvirtualawlibrary to P2,269,731.69.10chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Arraigned on November 12, 2002, the petitioner entered In his defense, the petitioner vehemently denied the
a plea of "not guilty."6 Loyao remains at-large. charge against him. He claimed that AMCGS, not Anmar,
employed him, and his plan to build his own company
In the ensuing trial, the prosecution offered in evidence had been Engr. Marigondon's motive in falsely accusing
the oral testimonies of Danilo Bernardo, Edgardo Cano, him of stealing construction
Roberto Buen, Efren Marcelo, private complainant Engr. materials.11chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Lorna Marigondon, and Apolinaria de Jesus,7 as well as
The RTC's Ruling The Issue

In its January 12, 2004 decision,12 the RTC convicted the The case presents to us the issue of whether the CA
petitioner of qualified theft. It gave credence to the committed a reversible error in affirming the RTC's
prosecution witnesses' straightforward and consistent decision convicting the petitioner of the crime of
testimonies and rejected the petitioner's bare denial. It qualified theft.
sentenced the petitioner to suffer the penalty of
imprisonment from 10 years and 3 months, as minimum, Our Ruling
to 20 years, as maximum, to indemnify
Anmar P2,269,731.69, with legal interest from The petition lacks merit.
November 2001 until full payment, and to pay Engr.
Marigondon P100,000.00 as moral damages. Sufficiency of the allegation of date of the
commission of the crime
The CA's Ruling
Section 6, Rule 110 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure,
On appeal, the petitioner assailed the inconsistencies in which lays down the guidelines in determining the
the prosecution witnesses' statements, and reiterated sufficiency of a complaint or information,
his status as an AMCGS provides:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
employee.13chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Section 6. Sufficiency of complaint or information. - A
In its June 27, 2005 decision,14 the CA brushed aside the complaint or information is sufficient if it states the
petitioner's arguments and affirmed the RTC's decision name of the accused; the designation of the offense
convicting the petitioner of qualified theft. It found that given by the statute; the acts or omissions complained of
the prosecution witnesses' testimonies deserve full as constituting the offense; the name of the offended
credence in the absence of any improper motive to party; the approximate date of the commission of the
testify falsely against the petitioner. It noted that the offense; and the place where the offense was
petitioner admitted his status as Anmar's employee and committed.
his receipt of salary from Anmar, not AMCGS. It rejected
the petitioner's defense of denial for being self-serving. When an offense is committed by more than one
It, however, deleted the award of moral damages to person, all of them shall be included in the complaint or
Engr. Marigondon for lack of justification. information. (italics supplied; emphasis ours)

When the CA denied15 the motion for As to the sufficiency of the allegation of the date of the
reconsideration16 that followed, the petitioner filed the commission of the offense, Section 11, Rule 110 of the
present Rule 45 petition. Rules of Criminal Procedure
adds:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
The Petition
Section 11. Date of commission of the offense. - It is not
The petitioner submits that, while the information necessary to state in the complaint or information the
charged him for acts committed "sometime in the precise date the offense was committed except when it
month of October, 2001," he was convicted for acts not is a material ingredient of the offense. The offense may
covered by the information, i.e., November 2001, thus be alleged to have been committed on a date as near as
depriving him of his constitutional right to be informed possible to the actual date of its commission. [italics
of the nature and cause of the accusation against him. supplied; emphasis ours]
He further argues that the prosecution failed to establish
the fact of the loss of the steel beams since the corpus Conformably with these provisions, when the date given
delicti was never identified and offered in evidence. in the complaint is not of the essence of the offense, it
need not be proven as alleged; thus, the complaint will
The Case for the Respondent be sustained if the proof shows that the offense was
committed at any date within the period of the statute
The respondent People of the Philippines, through the of limitations and before the commencement of the
Office of the Solicitor General, counters that the issues action.
raised by the petitioner in the petition pertain to the
correctness of the calibration of the evidence by the In this case, the petitioner had been fully apprised of the
RTC, as affirmed by the CA, which are issues of fact, not charge of qualified theft since the information stated the
of law, and beyond the ambit of a Rule 45 petition. In approximate date of the commission of the offense
any case, the respondent contends that the evidence on through the words "sometime in the month of October,
record indubitably shows the petitioner's liability for 2001." The petitioner could reasonably deduce the
qualified theft. nature of the criminal act with which he was charged
from a reading of the contents of the information, as the commission of the crime, this Court has ruled that
well as gather by such reading whatever he needed to even a single witness' uncorroborated testimony, if
know about the charge to enable him to prepare his credible, may suffice to prove it and warrant a conviction
defense. therefor. Corpus delicti may even be established by
circumstantial evidence."19 "In theft, corpus delicti has
We stress that the information did not have to state the two elements, namely: (1) that the property was lost by
precise date when the offense was committed, as to be the owner, and (2) that it was lost by felonious
inclusive of the month of "November 2001" since the taking."20chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
date was not a material element of the offense. As such,
the offense of qualified theft could be alleged to be In this case, the testimonial and documentary evidence
committed on a date as near as possible to the actual on record fully established the corpus delicti. The
date of its commission.17 Clearly, the month of positive testimonies of the prosecution witnesses,
November is the month right after October. particularly Bernardo, Cano and Buen, stating that the
petitioner directed them to unload the steel beams
The crime of qualified theft was along Marcos Highway and Mabini Street on the pretext
committed with grave abuse of discretion of a new Anmar project, were crucial to the petitioner's
conviction. The security logbook entry, delivery receipts
The elements of qualified theft, punishable under Article and photographs proved the existence and the
310 in relation to Articles 308 and 309 of the Revised unloading of the steel beams to a different location
Penal Code (RPC), are: (a) the taking of personal other than the project site.
property; (b) the said property belongs to another; (c)
the said taking be done with intent to gain; (d) it be done Proper Penalty
without the owner's consent; (e) it be accomplished
without the use of violence or intimidation against The RTC, as affirmed by the CA, sentenced the petitioner
persons, nor of force upon things; and (f) it be done to suffer the penalty of imprisonment from 10 years and
under any of the circumstances enumerated in Article three months, as minimum, to 20 years, as maximum,
310 of the RPC, i.e., with grave abuse of and to indemnify Anmar P2,269,731.69, with legal
confidence.18chanroblesvirtualawlibrary interest from November 2001 until full payment.
Apparently, the RTC erred in failing to specify the
All these elements are present in this case. The appropriate name of the penalty imposed on the
prosecution's evidence proved, through the petitioner.
prosecution's eyewitnesses, that upon the petitioner's
instruction, several pieces of wide flange steel beams We reiterate the rule that it is necessary for the courts
had been delivered, twice in October 2001 and once in to employ the proper legal terminology in the imposition
November 2001, along Marcos Highway and Mabini of penalties because of the substantial difference in their
Street, Baguio City; the petitioner betrayed the trust and corresponding legal effects and accessory penalties. The
confidence reposed on him when he, as project appropriate name of the penalty must be specified as
manager, repeatedly took construction materials from under the scheme of penalties in the RPC, the principal
the project site, without the authority and consent of penalty for a felony has its own specific duration and
Engr. Marigondon, the owner of the construction corresponding accessory penalties.21 Thus, the courts
materials. must employ the proper nomenclature specified in the
RPC, such as "reclusion perpetua" not "life
Corpus delicti is the fact of the commission imprisonment," or "ten days of arresto menor" not "ten
of the crime days of imprisonment." In qualified theft, the
appropriate penalty is reclusion perpetua based on
The petitioner argues that his conviction was improper Article 310 of the RPC which provides that "the crime of
because the alleged stolen beams or corpus delicti had qualified theft shall be punished by the penalties next
not been established. He asserts that the failure to higher by two degrees than those respectively specified
present the alleged stolen beams in court was fatal to in Article 309."22chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
the prosecution's cause.
To compute the penalty, we begin with the value of the
The petitioner's argument fails to persuade us. stolen steel beams, which is P2,269,731.69. Based on
Article 309 of the RPC, since the value of the items
"Corpus delicti refers to the fact of the commission of exceeds P22,000.00, the basic penalty is prision mayor in
the crime charged or to the body or substance of the its minimum and medium periods, to be imposed in the
crime. In its legal sense, it does not refer to the ransom maximum period, which is eight years, eight months and
money in the crime of kidnapping for ransom or to the one day to 10 years of prision mayor.
body of the person murdered" or, in this case, to the
stolen steel beams. "Since the corpus delicti is the fact of
To determine the additional years of imprisonment, we
deduct P22,000.00 from P2,269,731.69, which gives
us P2,247,731.69. This resulting figure should then be
divided by P10,000.00, disregarding any amount less
than P10,000.00. We now have 224 years that should be
added to the basic penalty. However, the imposable
penalty for simple theft should not exceed a total of 20
years. Therefore, had petitioner committed simple theft,
the penalty would be 20 years of reclusion temporal. As
the penalty for qualified theft is two degrees higher, the
correct imposable penalty is reclusion perpetua.

The petitioner should thus be convicted of qualified


theft with the corresponding penalty of reclusion
perpetua.

WHEREFORE, we hereby DENY the appeal. The June 27,


2005 decision and the November 24, 2005 resolution of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 28369
are AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Petitioner Engr.
Anthony V. Zapanta is sentenced to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua. Costs against the petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
VICTOR C. AGUSTIN, petitioner, vs. HON. FERNANDO been missing and had gone TNT in New York more than
VIL PAMINTUAN, in his capacity as Presiding eight years ago. The spurious sale to the male De Leon
Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City, who is not related to the cook, was necessary to make it
Branch 3; ANTHONY DE LEON and PEOPLE OF appear that it had been an intra-family transfer.
THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Second, the Baguio Country Club manager made it
DECISION appear that he and his family had been using the house
himself, but the BIR had now gotten a certification from
CALLEJO, SR., J.: the Greenhills homeowners association that the said
bungalow has all these years been rented to third
Before the Court is a petition for review parties, the last of which was an ADB executive.
on certiorari of the Court of Appeals (CA) Decision[1] in
CA-G.R. SP No. 70629 dismissing the petition The most damaging of the findings was the supposed
for certiorari and prohibition filed by petitioner Victor C. transfer price of the bungalow between the De Leons and
Agustin which, in turn, assailed the Order of the Regional how much the bungalow was later palmed off to the
Trial Court (RTC) of Baguio City, Branch 3, denying the Chinese-Filipino couple.
motion to quash the Informations in Criminal Case Nos.
17892-R to 17895-R, for libel.
We will leave those details for the BIR Commissioner to
On June 13, 2000, the Office of the City Prosecutor announce himself, that, if he could overcome the
of Baguio City, filed four separate tremendous and well-oiled lobbying efforts by De Leons
Informations[2] charging the petitioner, a Philippine Daily principals.
Inquirer columnist, with libel. The inculpatory portion of
that in Criminal Case No. 17892-R is quoted infra, as Tip: One of the principals is a lawyer and self-proclaimed
follows: best friend of Lenny Dragon Lady de Jesus.

That on or about the 17th day of March 2000, in the City which aforesaid defamatory, malicious and libelous
of Baguio, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this words and statements have been read by the personnel
Honorable Court, the said accused, with deliberate of the Baguio Country Club, by the residents of the City
intent and malicious intent and evil motive of attacking, of Baguio, and by the public in the other parts of the
injuring and impeaching the character, honesty, country, and that those libelous and defamatory words
integrity, virtue and reputation of one Anthony De Leon and statements aforementioned are untrue, false and
the acting general manager of the Baguio Country Club, malicious tending to impeach the character, integrity,
and as a private citizen of good standing and reputation virtue and reputation of the said Anthony De Leon as
in the community and with malicious intent of exposing Acting General Manager of the Baguio Country Club,
the (sic) Anthony De Leon to public hatred, contempt, thus, placing and causing said Anthony De Leon to public
ridicule, discredit and dishonor, without any justifiable hatred, contempt, dishonor, discredit and ridicule which
motive, did then and there willfully, maliciously and acts are serious and insulting in nature, to the damage
criminally prepare or cause to prepare, write in his and prejudice of the said Anthony De Leon.[3]
column Cocktails and publish in the Philippine Daily
Inquirer, a newspaper of general circulation in the City of Except for the alleged libelous articles, as well as
Baguio and in the entire Philippines, wherein in said the dates of the commission of the crimes charged
column the said accused did then and there defame the therein, the three other Informations are similarly
complainant Anthony De Leon by branding and imputing worded.
upon him the following defamatory and libelous
statements, to wit: Agustin was arraigned on September 10, 2001, and
pleaded not guilty to all the charges.[4]
The trysting place between the President Marcos and Agustin then filed a Motion to Quash the
Hollywood actress Dovie Beams is not the subject of a Informations, on the sole ground that the court had no
high level tax evasion investigation ordered by no less jurisdiction over the offenses charged. He pointed out
than the new BIR Commissioner, Dakila Fonacier. that the said Informations did not contain any allegation
that the offended party, Anthony de Leon, was actually
That bungalow on Northwestern Street had hastily residing in Baguio City, or that the alleged libelous
changed hands in the last two years, and had supposedly articles were printed and first published in a newspaper
been sold to, first Anthony De Leon, the acting general of general circulation in Baguio City.
manager of the exclusive Baguio Country Club, who in
turn disposed of it to an unwitting Chinoy couple. Private complainant De Leon, through counsel,
opposed the motion, alleging that he was a bona
fide resident of the Baguio Country Club located at the
According to preliminary BIR findings, the transfer to Mr.
Country Club Road, Baguio City; he was also the acting
De Leon is already spurious since the cook De Leon had
general manager of the club at the time the alleged the complainant was actually a resident of Baguio City at
libelous article was published. He emphasized that the the time the alleged libelous articles were printed and
Informations alleged that he was of good standing and first published, and that the alleged libelous articles
reputation in the community, and that the word were printed and first published in Baguio City, such
community meant Baguio City, where he was residing. defects were merely of form and not of substance. Thus,
Moreover, Agustin was estopped from assailing the there is no need to quash the Informations, as they may
courts lack of jurisdiction since he was arraigned before merely be amended pursuant to Section 14, Rule 110 of
he filed his motion to quash the Information. Even if it the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which provides
may be assumed that there was some ambiguity in the that an amendment, either of form or substance, may be
Informations as to whether he was an actual resident of made at any time before the accused enters a plea to
Baguio City, amending them would suffice; based on the the charge, and thereafter, as to all matters of form with
entirety of the context and applying the doctrine of leave of court.[6] The CA further ruled that any
necessary implication, there can be no other conclusion amendment that would be made to conform to the
than that he was a resident of Baguio City. private complainants residency requirements would not
place the accused at a disadvantage.
By way of Reply, Agustin averred that the
allegations in the Informations (that the private Agustin filed a motion for reconsideration of the
complainant was the acting general manager of the decision, which the appellate court denied for lack of
Baguio Country Club and was a private citizen of good merit.[7]
standing and reputation in the community) do not
Agustin, now the petitioner, insists that the CA
constitute an allegation that the private complainant
erred in dismissing his petition for certiorari and
was an actual resident of Baguio City. He insisted that to
prohibition, it appearing that the trial court committed a
construe the word community in the Informations to
grave abuse of its discretion in denying his Motion to
mean the community in Baguio City would be to unduly
Quash the Informations, as well as his motion for
strain the limits of a fair interpretation; there must be
reconsideration of the trial courts order denying the
clear and positive allegations in the Informations that
same.
the private complainant actually resided in Baguio City.
He argued that he was not estopped from assailing the The petitioner maintains that in the absence of any
courts jurisdiction over the crimes charged even after his allegations in the Informations that the private
arraignment because lack of jurisdiction is a matter respondent was actually residing in Baguio City, or that
which can be dealt with at any time. the alleged libelous articles were printed and first
published in Baguio City as mandated by Article 360 of
On January 16, 2002, the trial court issued an
the Revised Penal Code, the trial court had no
Order[5] denying the motion to quash, holding that in the
jurisdiction over the offenses charged. He asserts that
light of the petitioners admission that the private
the amendments of the Informations would likewise be
complainant was the General Manager of the Baguio
improper, considering that the defects of the
Country Club, it was reasonable to infer therefrom that
Informations were not merely of form but of substance.
the private complainant was actually a resident of
The petitioner posits that venue in criminal cases is
Baguio City at the time the alleged libelous articles were
jurisdictional and mandatory; hence, conformably with
published.
the decisions of the Court in Lopez v. City
Agustin filed a motion for reconsideration of the Judge,[8] and Agbayani v. Sayo,[9] the Informations must
Order, insisting that the mere fact that the private be quashed.
complainant was the General Manager of the Baguio
In its Comment on the petition, the Office of the
Country Club did not necessarily mean that the latter
Solicitor General (OSG) maintains that the failure of the
was actually residing in Baguio City, as it was also
Informations to allege that the private respondent is a
possible that he was actually residing in a place nearby.
resident of Baguio City (where the Informations were
The trial court, however, denied the motion on April 1,
filed) is not a jurisdictional defect. It asserts that the
2002.
averment in the Informations that the crimes charged
Agustin forthwith filed a Petition for Certiorari and were committed within the jurisdiction of the trial court
Prohibition with a plea for an injunctive relief before the in Baguio City, taken in conjunction with the other
Court of Appeals (CA), claiming that the trial court allegations therein, are sufficient to vest jurisdiction over
committed a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack the subject cases in the RTC of Baguio City.
or excess of jurisdiction in denying his Motion to Quash.
For his part, the private complainant reiterated his
On February 24, 2004, the CA rendered a decision arguments in the RTC and in the CA in his Comment on
dismissing the petition. It disagreed with Agustin, and the Petition.
held that the trial court did not commit a grave abuse of
The threshold issues in the present petition are (1)
discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction in
whether or not the RTC of Baguio City has jurisdiction
so ruling. According to the CA, while the Informations
over the offenses charged in the four Informations on
filed by the prosecution did not contain allegations that
the premise that the Informations are defective; and (2) conducted by the provincial or city fiscal of the province
whether the Informations may be amended to cure the or city, or by the municipal court of the city or capital of
said defects. the province where such actions may be instituted in
accordance with the provisions of this article.
The petition is meritorious.
Venue in criminal cases is an essential element of No criminal action for defamation which consists in the
jurisdiction.[10] The jurisdiction of a court over the imputation of a crime which cannot be prosecuted de
criminal case is determined by the allegations in the oficio shall be brought except at the instance of and
complaint or Information, and the offense must have upon complaint expressly filed by the offended party.
been committed or any one of its essential ingredients
took place within the territorial jurisdiction of the Thus, the rules on venue in Article 360 of the
court.[11] Revised Penal Code are as follows:
Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code provides
1. Whether the offended party is a public official or a
private person, the criminal action may be filed in the
ART. 360. Persons responsible. Any person who shall
Court of First Instance of the province or city where the
publish, exhibit, or cause the publication or exhibition of
libelous article is printed and first published.
any defamation in writing or by similar means, shall be
responsible for the same.
2. If the offended party is a private individual, the
criminal action may also be filed in the Court of First
The author or editor of a book or pamphlet, or the editor
Instance of the province where he actually resided at the
or business manager of a daily newspaper, magazine or
time of the commission of the offense.
serial publication, shall be responsible for the
defamations contained therein to the same extent as if
3. If the offended party is a public officer whose office is
he were the author thereof.
in Manila at the time of the commission of the offense,
the action may be filed in the Court of First Instance of
The criminal and civil action for damages in cases of
Manila.
written defamations as provided for in this chapter, shall
be filed simultaneously or separately with the Court of
First Instance of the province or city where the libelous 4. If the offended party is a public officer holding office
article is printed and first published or where any of the outside of Manila, the action may be filed in the Court of
First Instance of the province or city where he held office
offended parties actually resides at the time of the
at the time of the commission of the offense.[12]
commission of the offense; Provided, however, That
where one of the offended parties is a public officer
whose office is in the City of Manila at the time of the Experience has shown that under the old rule, the
commission of the offense, the action shall be filed in offended party could harass the accused in a libel case
the Court of First Instance of the City of Manila or of the by laying the venue of the criminal action in a remote or
city or province where the libelous article is printed and distant places.[13] To obviate controversies as to the
first published, and in case such public officer does not venue of the criminal action from written defamation,
hold office in the City of Manila, the action shall be filed the complaint or Information should contain allegations
in the Court of First Instance or the province or city as to whether the offended party was a public officer or
where he held office at the time of the commission of a private individual at the time the offense was
the offense or where the libelous article is printed and committed, and where he was actually residing at that
first published and in case one of the offended parties is time; whenever possible, the place where the written
a private individual, the action shall be filed in the Court defamation was printed and first published should
of First Instance of the province or city where he actually likewise be alleged.[14]
resides at the time of the commission of the offense or In this case, the Informations did not allege that the
where the libelous matter is printed and first offended party was actually residing in Baguio City at the
published: Provided, further, That the civil action shall be time of the commission of the offenses, or that the
filed in the same court where the criminal action is filed alleged libelous articles were printed and first published
and vice versa: Provided, furthermore, That the court in Baguio City. It cannot even be inferred from the
where the criminal action or civil action for damages is allegation the offended party was the Acting General
first filed, shall acquire jurisdiction to the exclusion of Manager of the Baguio Country Club and of good
other courts: And provided, finally, That this amendment standing and reputation in the community that the
shall not apply to cases of written defamations, the civil private respondent (complainant) was actually residing
and/or criminal actions to which have been filed in court in Baguio City.
at the time of the effectivity of this law.
The residence of a person is his personal, actual or
Preliminary investigation of criminal actions for written physical habitation or his actual residence or place of
defamations as provided for in the chapter shall be abode provided he resides therein with continuity and
consistency; no particular length of time of residence is
required. However, the residence must be more than
temporary.[15] The term residence involves the idea of
something beyond a transient stay in the place; and to
be a resident, one must abide in a place where he had a
house therein.[16] To create a residence in a particular
place, two fundamental elements are essential: The
actual bodily presence in the place, combined with a
freely exercised intention of remaining there
permanently or for an indefinite time.[17] While it is
possible that as the Acting General Manager of the
Baguio Country Club, the petitioner may have been
actually residing in Baguio City, the Informations did not
state that he was actually residing therein when the
alleged crimes were committed. It is entirely possible
that the private complainant may have been actually
residing in another place. One who transacts business in
a place and spends considerable time thereat does not
render such person a resident therein.[18] Where one
may have or own a business does not of itself constitute
residence within the meaning of the statute. Pursuit of
business in a place is not conclusive of residence there
for purposes of venue.[19]
We do not agree with the ruling of the CA that the
defects in the Informations are merely formal. Indeed,
the absence of any allegations in the Informations that
the offended party was actually residing in Baguio City,
where the crimes charged were allegedly committed, is a
substantial defect. Indeed, the amendments of the
Informations to vest jurisdiction upon the court cannot
be allowed.[20]
IN LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, the petition is
GRANTED. The assailed Decision of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. SP No. 70629 are SET ASIDE. The Regional
Trial Court of Baguio City, Branch 3, is hereby DIRECTED
TO QUASH the Informations and DISMISS the cases
against petitioner Victor C. Agustin in Criminal Case Nos.
17892-R to 17895-R.
SO ORDERED.
SSGT. JOSE M. PACOY, G.R. NO. 157472 However, on the same day and after the arraignment,
Petitioner, the respondent judge issued another Order,[6] likewise
Present: dated September 12, 2002, directing the trial prosecutor
to correct and amend the Information to Murder in view
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J., of the aggravating circumstance of disregard of rank
Chairperson, alleged in the Information which public respondent
- versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, registered as having qualified the crime to Murder.
CHICO-NAZARIO,
NACHURA, and Acting upon such Order, the prosecutor entered his
REYES, JJ. amendment by crossing out the word Homicide and
instead wrote the word Murder in the caption and in the
HON. AFABLE E. CAJIGAL, opening paragraph of the Information. The accusatory
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES portion remained exactly the same as that of the original
and OLYMPIO L. ESCUETA, Promulgated: Information for Homicide, with the correction of the
Respondents. September 28, 2007 spelling of the victims name from Escuita to Escueta.[7]
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
--------x On October 8, 2002, the date scheduled for pre-trial
conference and trial, petitioner was to be re-arraigned
for the crime of Murder. Counsel for petitioner objected
DECISION on the ground that the latter would be placed in double
jeopardy, considering that his Homicide case had been
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: terminated without his express consent, resulting in the
dismissal of the case. As petitioner refused to enter his
plea on the amended Information for Murder, the public
Before us is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the respondent entered for him a plea of not guilty.[8]
Rules of Court filed by SSGT. Jose M. Pacoy[1] (petitioner)
seeking to annul and set aside the Orders dated October On October 28, 2002, petitioner filed a Motion to Quash
25, 2002[2] and December 18, 2002[3] issued by Presiding with Motion to Suspend Proceedings Pending the
Judge Afable E. Cajigal (respondent judge) of the Resolution of the Instant Motion[9] on the ground of
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 68, Camiling, Tarlac in double jeopardy. Petitioner alleged that in the
Criminal Case No. 02-42. Information for Homicide, he was validly indicted and
arraigned before a competent court, and the case was
On July 4, 2002, an Information for Homicide was filed in terminated without his express consent; that when the
the RTC against petitioner committed as follows: case for Homicide was terminated without his express
consent, the subsequent filing of the Information for
That on or about the 18th day of Murder in lieu of Homicide placed him in double
March 2002, in the Municipality jeopardy.
of Mayantoc, Province of Tarlac,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of In an Order[10] dated October 25, 2002,[11] the
this Honorable Court, the said accused respondent judge denied the Motion to Quash. He ruled
with intent to kill, did then and that a claim of former acquittal or conviction does not
there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously constitute double jeopardy and cannot be sustained
shot his commanding officer 2Lt. unless judgment was rendered acquitting or convicting
Frederick Esquita with his armalite rifle the defendant in the former prosecution; that petitioner
hitting and sustaining upon 2Lt. was never acquitted or convicted of Homicide, since the
Frederick Esquitamultiple gunshot Information for Homicide was merely corrected/or
wounds on his body which caused his amended before trial commenced and did not terminate
instantaneous death. the same; that the Information for Homicide was
With the aggravating patently insufficient in substance, so no valid
circumstance of killing, 2Lt. proceedings could be taken thereon; and that with the
Frederick Esquita in disregard of his allegation of aggravating circumstance of disregard of
rank.[4] rank, the crime ofHomicide is qualified to Murder.
Petitioner filed a Motion to Inhibit with attached Motion
for Reconsideration. In his Motion to Inhibit, he alleged
On September 12, 2002, upon arraignment, petitioner, that the respondent judge exercised jurisdiction in an
duly assisted by counsel de parte, pleaded not guilty to arbitrary, capricious and partial manner in mandating
the charge of Homicide. Respondent Judge set the pre- the amendment of the charge from Homicide to Murder
trial conference and trial on October 8, 2002.[5] in disregard of the provisions of the law and existing
jurisprudence.
In his Motion for Reconsideration, petitioner reiterated
that the case against him was dismissed or otherwise
terminated without his express consent, which Petitioner alleges that despite having entered his plea of
constitutes a ground to quash the information for not guilty to the charge of Homicide, the public
murder; and that to try him again for the same offense respondent ordered the amendment of the Information
constitutes double jeopardy. Petitioner stated that from Homicide to Murder because of the presence of
contrary to respondent judge's conclusion that disregard the aggravating circumstance of disregard of rank, which
of rank qualifies the killing to Murder, it is a generic is in violation of Section 14, Rule 110 of the Revised
aggravating circumstance which only serves to affect the Rules of Criminal Procedure; that the public respondents
imposition of the period of the penalty. Petitioner also ruling that disregard of rank is a qualifying aggravating
argued that the amendment and/or correction ordered circumstance which qualified the killing of
by the respondent judge was substantial; and under 2Lt. Escueta to murder is erroneous since, under
Section 14, Rule 110 of the Revised Rules of Criminal paragraph 3, Article 14 of the Revised Penal Code,
Procedure, this cannot be done, since petitioner had disregard of rank is only a generic aggravating
already been arraigned and he would be placed in circumstance which serves to affect the penalty to be
double jeopardy. imposed upon the accused and does not qualify the
offense into a more serious crime; that even assuming
In his Order dated December 18, 2002,[12] the that disregard of rank is a qualifying aggravating
respondent judge denied the Motion to Inhibit and circumstance, such is a substantial amendment which is
granted the Motion for Reconsideration, thus: not allowed after petitioner has entered his plea.

WHEREFORE, in view of the Petitioner next contends that the respondent judge
foregoing, the Motion to Inhibit is hereby gravely abused his discretion when he denied the
DENIED while the Motion for Motion to Quash the Information for Murder,
Reconsideration is hereby GRANTED. considering that the original Information for Homicide
Unless ordered otherwise by filed against him was terminated without his express
the Highest Court, the presiding judge consent; thus, prosecuting him for the same offense
shall continue hearing this case. Further, would place him in double jeopardy.
the Order dated October 25, 2002 is
reconsidered and the original Petitioner further argues that although the respondent
information charging the crime of judge granted his Motion for Reconsideration, he did not
homicide stands.[13] in fact grant the motion, since petitioner's prayer was for
In granting the Motion for Reconsideration, respondent the respondent judge to grant the Motion to Quash the
judge found that a close scrutiny of Article 248 of the Information for Murder on the ground of double
Revised Penal Code shows that disregard of rank is jeopardy; that his Motion for Reconsideration did not
merely a generic mitigating[14] circumstance which seek the reinstatement of the Information for Homicide
should not elevate the classification of the crime of upon the dismissal of the Information for Murder, as he
homicide to murder. would again be placed in double jeopardy; thus, the
respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion
On April 30, 2003, petitioner filed herein petition in reinstating the Homicide case.
for certiorari on the following grounds:
In his Comment, the Solicitor General argues that the
THE RESPONDENT JUDGE GRAVELY respondent judge's Order reinstating the Information to
ABUSED HIS DISCRETION AND EXCEEDED Homicide after initially motu proprio ordering its
HIS JURISDICTION IN ORDERING THE amendment to Murder renders herein petition moot
AMENDMENT OF THE INFORMATION and academic; that petitioner failed to establish the
FROM HOMICIDE TO MURDER. fourth element of double jeopardy, i.e., the defendant
was acquitted or convicted, or the case against him was
THE RESPONDENT JUDGE GRAVELY dismissed or otherwise terminated without his consent;
ABUSED HIS DISCRETION AND VIOLATED that petitioner confuses amendment with substitution
THE LAW IN DENYING THE MOTION TO of Information; that the respondent judge's Order dated
QUASH THE INFORMATION FOR September 12, 2002 mandated an amendment of the
MURDER. Information as provided under Section 14, Rule 110 of
the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure; and that
THE RESPONDENT JUDGE GRAVELY amendments do not entail dismissal or termination of
ABUSED HIS DISCRETION AND EXCEEDED the previous case.
HIS JURISDICTION AND VIOLATED THE
LAW IN ORDERING THE REINSTATEMENT Private respondent Col. Olimpio Escueta, father of the
OF THE INFORMATION FOR HOMICIDE victim, filed his Comment alleging that no grave abuse of
WHICH WAS ALREADY TERMINATED.[15] discretion was committed by the respondent judge
when he denied petitioner's Motion to Quash the
Amended Information, as petitioner was not placed in
double jeopardy; that the proceedings under the first is not plausible. Petitioner confuses the procedure and
Information for homicide has not yet commenced, and effects of amendment or substitution under Section 14,
the case was not dismissed or terminated when the Rule 110 of the Rules of Court, to wit --
Information was amended.
SEC. 14. Amendment or
In his Reply, petitioner reiterates his contention that the substitution. A complaint or information
amendment of the charge of Homicide to Murder after may be amended, in form or in
his arraignment would place him in double jeopardy, substance, without leave of court, at any
considering that said amendment was without his time before the accused enters his plea.
express consent; and that such amendment was After the plea and during the trial, a
tantamount to a termination of the charge of Homicide. formal amendment may only be made
with leave of court and when it can be
The parties filed their respective Memoranda. done without causing prejudice to the
rights of the accused.
Generally, a direct resort to us in a petition
for certiorari is highly improper, for it violates the xxx
established policy of strict observance of the judicial
hierarchy of courts. However, the judicial hierarchy of If it appears at any time before judgment
courts is not an iron-clad rule.[16] A strict application of that a mistake has been made in
the rule of hierarchy of courts is not necessary when the charging the proper offense, the court
cases brought before the appellate courts do not involve shall dismiss the original complaint or
factual but legal questions.[17] information upon the filing of a new one
charging the proper offense in
In the present case, petitioner submits pure questions of accordance with Rule 119, Section 11,
law involving the proper legal interpretation of the provided the accused would not be
provisions on amendment and substitution of placed thereby in double jeopardy, and
information under the Rules of Court. It also involves the may also require the witnesses to give
issue of double jeopardy, one of the fundamental rights bail for their appearance at the trial.
of the citizens under the Constitution which protects the with Section 19, Rule 119 of which provides:
accused not against the peril of second punishment but
against being tried for the same offense. These SEC. 19. When mistake has
important legal questions and in order to prevent been made in charging the proper
further delay in the trial of the case warrant our offense. - When it becomes manifest at
relaxation of the policy of strict observance of the any time before judgment that a
judicial hierarchy of courts. mistake has been made in charging the
proper offense and the accused cannot
The Courts Ruling be convicted of the offense charged or
The petition is not meritorious. any other offense necessarily included
therein, the accused shall not be
We find no merit in petitioner's contention that the discharged if there appears good cause
respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion to detain him. In such case, the court
in amending the Information after petitioner had already shall commit the accused to answer for
pleaded not guilty to the charge in the Information for the proper offense and dismiss the
Homicide. The argument of petitioner -- original case upon the filing of the
proper information.
Considering the fact that the case for First, a distinction shall be made between amendment
Homicide against him was already and substitution under Section 14, Rule 110. For this
terminated without his express purpose, Teehankee v. Madayag[19] is instructive, viz:
consent, he cannot anymore be
charged and arraigned for Murder The first paragraph provides
which involve the same offense. The the rules for amendment of the
petitioner argued that the termination information or complaint, while the
of the information for Homicide second paragraph refers to
without his express consent is the substitution of the information or
equivalent to his acquittal. Thus, to complaint.
charge him again, this time for Murder,
is tantamount to placing the petitioner It may accordingly be posited
in Double Jeopardy.[18] that both amendment and substitution
of the information may be made before from that initially charged, a
or after the defendant pleads, but they substitution is in order.
differ in the following respects:
There is identity between the
1. Amendment may involve two offenses when the evidence to
either formal or substantial changes, support a conviction for one offense
while substitution necessarily involves a would be sufficient to warrant a
substantial change from the original conviction for the other, or when the
charge; second offense is exactly the same as
the first, or when the second offense is
2. Amendment before plea has an attempt to commit or a frustration
been entered can be effected without of, or when it necessarily includes or is
leave of court, but substitution of necessarily included in, the offense
information must be with leave of court charged in the first information. In this
as the original information has to be connection, an offense may be said to
dismissed; necessarily include another when some
of the essential elements or ingredients
3. Where the amendment is of the former, as this is alleged in the
only as to form, there is no need for information, constitute the latter. And,
another preliminary investigation and vice-versa, an offense may be said to be
the retaking of the plea of the necessarily included in another when
accused; in substitution of information, the essential ingredients of the former
another preliminary investigation is constitute or form a part of those
entailed and the accused has to plead constituting the latter.[20]
anew to the new information; and

4. An amended information In the present case, the change of the offense


refers to the same offense charged in charged from Homicide to Murder is merely a formal
the original information or to an amendment and not a substantial amendment or a
offense which necessarily includes or is substitution as defined in Teehankee.
necessarily included in the original
charge, hence substantial amendments While the amended Information was for Murder, a
to the information after the plea has reading of the Information shows that the only change
been taken cannot be made over the made was in the caption of the case; and in the opening
objection of the accused, for if the paragraph or preamble of the Information, with the
original information would be crossing out of word Homicide and its replacement by
withdrawn, the accused could invoke the word Murder. There was no change in the recital of
double jeopardy. On the other hand, facts constituting the offense charged or in the
substitution requires or presupposes determination of the jurisdiction of the court. The
that the new information involves a averments in the amended Information for Murder are
different offense which does not exactly the same as those already alleged in the original
include or is not necessarily included in Information for Homicide, as there was not at all
the original charge, hence the accused any change in the act imputed to petitioner, i.e., the
cannot claim double jeopardy. killing of 2Lt. Escueta without any qualifying
circumstance. Thus, we find that the amendment made
In determining, therefore, in the caption and preamble from Homicide to Murder
whether there should be an as purely formal.[21]
amendment under the first paragraph
of Section 14, Rule 110, or a Section 14, Rule 110 also provides that in allowing
substitution of information under the formal amendments in cases in which the accused has
second paragraph thereof, the rule is already pleaded, it is necessary that the amendments do
that where the second information not prejudice the rights of the accused. The test of
involves the same offense, or an whether the rights of an accused are prejudiced by the
offense which necessarily includes or is amendment of a complaint or information is whether a
necessarily included in the first defense under the complaint or information, as it
information, an amendment of the originally stood, would no longer be available after the
information is sufficient; otherwise, amendment is made; and when any evidence the
where the new information charges an accused might have would be inapplicable to the
offense which is distinct and different complaint or information.[22] Since the facts alleged in
the accusatory portion of the amended Information are
identical with those of the original Information for is necessarily included in the offense
Homicide, there could not be any effect on the charged in the former complaint or
prosecution's theory of the case; neither would there be information.
any possible prejudice to the rights or defense of Thus, there is double jeopardy when the
petitioner. following requisites are present: (1) a first jeopardy
attached prior to the second; (2) the first jeopardy has
While the respondent judge erroneously thought that been validly terminated; and (3) a second jeopardy is for
disrespect on account of rank qualified the crime to the same offense as in the first.[24]
murder, as the same was only a generic aggravating
circumstance,[23]we do not find that he committed any As to the first requisite, the first jeopardy attaches only
grave abuse of discretion in ordering the amendment of (a) after a valid indictment; (b) before a competent
the Information after petitioner had already pleaded not court; (c) after arraignment; (d) when a valid plea has
guilty to the charge of Homicide, since the amendment been entered; and (e) when the accused was acquitted
made was only formal and did not adversely affect any or convicted, or the case was dismissed or otherwise
substantial right of petitioner. terminated without his express consent.[25]

Next, we determine whether petitioner was placed in It is the conviction or acquittal of the accused or the
double jeopardy by the change of the charge from dismissal or termination of the case that bars further
Homicide to Murder; and subsequently, from Murder prosecution for the same offense or any attempt to
back to Homicide. Petitioner's claim that the respondent commit the same or the frustration
judge committed grave abuse of discretion in denying his thereof; or prosecution for any offense which
Motion to Quash the Amended Information for Murder necessarily includes or is necessarily included in the
on the ground of double jeopardy is not meritorious. offense charged in the former complaint or
information.[26]
Petitioner's Motion to Quash was anchored on Section 3,
Rule 117 of the Rules of Court, which provides: Petitioner's insistence that the respondent judge
dismissed or terminated his case for homicide without
SEC. 3. Grounds. - The accused his express consent, which is tantamount to an acquittal,
may move to quash the complaint is misplaced.
or information on any of the following
grounds: Dismissal of the first case contemplated by Section 7
presupposes a definite or unconditional dismissal which
xxxx terminates the case.[27] And for the dismissal to be a bar
under the jeopardy clause, it must have the effect of
(i) That the accused has been previously acquittal.
convicted or acquitted of the offense
charged, or the case against him was The respondent judge's Order dated September 12,
dismissed or otherwise terminated 2002 was for the trial prosecutor to correct and amend
without his express consent. the Information but not to dismiss the same upon the
Section 7 of the same Rule lays down the requisites in filing of a newInformation charging the proper offense
order that the defense of double jeopardy may prosper, as contemplated under the last paragraph of Section 14,
to wit: Rule 110 of the Rules of Court -- which, for convenience,
we quote again --
SEC. 7. Former conviction or
acquittal; double jeopardy. When an If it appears at anytime before
accused has been convicted or acquitted, judgment that a mistake has been made
or the case against him dismissed or in charging the proper offense, the court
otherwise terminated without his shall dismiss the original complaint or
express consent by a court of competent information upon the filing of a new one
jurisdiction, upon a valid complaint or charging the proper offense in
information or other formal charge accordance with section 19, Rule 119,
sufficient in form and substance to provided the accused shall not be placed
sustain a conviction and after the in double jeopardy. The court may
accused had pleaded to the charge, the require the witnesses to give bail for
conviction or acquittal of the accused or their appearance at the trial.
the dismissal of the case shall be a bar to
another prosecution for the offense and Section 19, Rule 119, which provides:
charged, or for any attempt to commit
the same or frustration thereof, or for SEC. 19.- When mistake has been
any offense which necessarily includes or made in charging the proper offense -
When it becomes manifest at any time reinstating the original Information for Homicide. The
before judgment that a mistake has been requisite of double jeopardy that the first jeopardy must
made in charging the proper offense and have attached prior to the second is not present,
the accused cannot be convicted of the considering that petitioner was neither convicted nor
offense charged or any other offense acquitted; nor was the case against him dismissed or
necessarily included therein, the accused otherwise terminated without his express consent.[29]
shall not be discharged if there appears WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED, there
good cause to detain him. In such case, being no grave abuse of discretion committed by
the court shall commit the accused to respondent Judge.
answer for the proper offense and
dismiss the original case upon the filing of SO ORDERED.
the proper information.

Evidently, the last paragraph of Section 14, Rule 110,


applies only when the offense charged is wholly
different from the offense proved, i.e., the accused
cannot be convicted of a crime with which he was not
charged in the information even if it be proven, in which
case, there must be a dismissal of the charge and a
substitution of a new information charging the proper
offense. Section 14 does not apply to a
second information, which involves the same offense or
an offense which necessarily includes or is necessarily
included in the first information. In this connection, the
offense charged necessarily includes the offense proved
when some of the essential elements or ingredients of
the former, as alleged in the complaint or information,
constitute the latter. And an offense charged is
necessarily included in the offense proved when
the essential ingredients of the former constitute or
form a part of those constituting the latter.[28]

Homicide is necessarily included in the crime of murder;


thus, the respondent judge merely ordered the
amendment of the Information and not the dismissal of
the original Information. To repeat, it was the same
original information that was amended by merely
crossing out the word Homicide and writing the word
Murder, instead, which showed that there was no
dismissal of the homicide case.

Anent the last issue, petitioner contends that


respondent judge gravely abused his discretion in
ordering that the original Information for Homicide
stands after realizing that disregard of rank does not
qualify the killing to Murder. That ruling was again a
violation of his right against double jeopardy, as he will
be prosecuted anew for a charge of Homicide, which has
already been terminated earlier.

We are not convinced. Respondent judge did not


commit any grave abuse of discretion.

A reading of the Order dated December 18,


2002 showed that the respondent judge granted
petitioner's motion for reconsideration, not on the
ground that double jeopardy exists, but on his
realization that disregard of rank is a generic aggravating
circumstance which does not qualify the killing of the
victim to murder. Thus, he rightly corrected himself by
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, Police Station where Dannilyns sworn statement was
vs. DANILO CATUBIG y HORIO, accused-appellant. subsequently taken on December 3, 1997.

DECISION Upon the request of the police authorities, Dannilyn was


examined on December 1, 1997 by Dr. Wilfredo E. Tiera,
VITUG, J.: Medico-Legal Officer of the National Bureau of
Investigation, who found out that Dannilyns healed
In an information, dated 29 January 1998, the laceration in the hymen was caused by sexual
accused, Danilo Catubig y Horio, was charged with the intercourse.[2]
crime of rape before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 78,
of Malolos, Bulacan; viz: The accused denied the accusation against him. He
claimed that the rape charge was brought about only
The undersigned Asst. Provincial Prosecutor on because of the ill-will between him, on the one hand,
complaint of the offended party Dannilyn Catubig y and his wife and daughter Dannilyn, on the other hand,
Lazaro accuses Danilo Catubig y Horio of the crime of following a quarrel. On 27 November 1997, he
rape, penalized under the provisions of Art. 335 of the asseverated, he had fought with his wife, hitting her and
Revised Penal Code, committed as follows: his daughter. His wife then threatened him that it was
the last time that she would allow him to harm her and
That on or about the 27th day of November, 1997, in the that he would regret what he did. True to her
municipality of San Jose del Monte, province of Bulacan, foreboding, the next day, he was arrested and a
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable complaint for rape was filed against him.
Court, the above-named accused, did then and there
wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, by means of force, On 11 December 1998, the Regional Trial Court
threats and intimidation and with lewd design have rendered a decision holding the accused guilty of the
carnal knowledge of the said offended party against her crime of rape; it adjudged:
will.[1]
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court hereby
When arraigned on 16 July 1998, accused Catubig, finds accused DANILO CATUBIG Y HORIO GUILTY beyond
represented by counsel de oficio, pleaded not guilty to reasonable doubt of the crime of Rape defined and
the offense charged; forthwith, trial ensued. penalized under Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code,
as amended by Republic Act No. 7659, and hereby
The case for the prosecution was laid bare in sentences him to suffer the penalty of DEATH, and to
Appellees Brief submitted by the Office of the Solicitor pay private complainant Dannilyn Catubig the amount of
General. Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) as moral damages.[3]

On November 27, 1997, at around 4:00 oclock in the With the imposition of the death penalty by the
afternoon, private complainant Dannilyn Catubig, who trial court, the records were elevated to this Court for
was born on August 9, 1985, and her four (4) younger automatic review.
siblings were watching television in the sala of their
house located at Sunlife Subdivision, San Jose del Monte, In his brief, appellant submitted thusly:
Bulacan.
1. The lower court erred in finding the accused guilty of
After an hour, Dannilyns father, herein appellant Danilo the crime of rape in violation of Article 335 of the
Catubig, arrived and told Dannilyns siblings to proceed, Revised Penal Code as amended by Republic Act 7659.
as in fact they did proceed, to her aunts house which is
just located nearby. Thereafter, appellant told Dannilyn 2. The lower court erred in not taking into consideration
to go inside a room and to lie down on the bed. After the fact that the information was defective for failure to
Dannilyn had complied, appellant removed Dannilyns state that the accused is the father of the victim and that
shorts and panty, while appellant, after removing his the victim was under 18 years [of] age at the time of the
brief and t-shirt, [laid] on top of Dannilyn. Afraid of commission of the alleged rape.[4]
appellant who beat and raped her in the past, Dannilyn
was not able to resist appellant who succeeded in Private complainant Dannilyn Catubig narrated how
inserting his penis into Dannilyns vagina. she was repeatedly abused by her own father; she
testified:
However, Dannilyns aunt, who got suspicious of what Q Now, after your sisters and brother [went] to the
appellant was doing to Dannilyn, informed the latters house of your aunt, what did your father do?
mother, Jocelyn Catubig, about the said suspicion. Thus,
when confronted by her mother, Dannilyn was forced to A He instructed me to go inside the room.
reveal that she was indeed raped by appellant. The
Q How many rooms were there in your house?
sexual assault was reported to the San Jose del Monte
A Only one. A He removed his brief and shirt.
Q Did you go to the room per instruction? Q After removing his brief and shirt, what did he do?
A Yes, sir. A He [laid] on top me.
Q And what happened inside the room? Q When your father [laid] on top of you, what did he
do?
A My father entered the room.
A He was inserting his penis to my vagina.
Q And when your father entered the room, what did
he do next? Q At this juncture, may we make of record that
witness starts to cry.
A He removed my short [pants] and my panty.
Q How did you know your father inserted his penis to
Q What was your position at that time when your
your vagina?
father removed your short pants and panty?
A I can feel it and it is painful.
A I was lying.
Q That was the time when your father was already
Q When you entered the room, did you lie
lying on top of you?
immediately?
A Yes, sir.
A No, I just sat.
Q And what was the movement of the body of your
Q How come as you claimed a while ago, you were
father while he was lying on top of you?
lying when your father removed your short
pants and panty? A Push and pull movement.
A Once I entered the room, I was sitting then he Q For how long did your father stay on top of you
removed my short [pants] and panty. doing that push and pull movement?
Q You said upon entering the room, you sat and A That must be about 1 hour, but my aunt arrived.
while sitting, all of a sudden your father
Q Aside from the pain, what else did you feel?
removed your short pants and panty while
already lying at that time, how come you were A Mahapdi at parang may pumipitik sa loob ng ari ko.
lying when according to you, you were sitting
inside the room? Q Did you not try to resist?

A I was sitting first and he instructed me to lie down. A No, because I am afraid of him.

Q While you were sitting inside the room and you Q You are afraid of your father?
were instructed by your father to lie, what A Yes, sir.
comes to your mind?
Q Afraid of what?
A That he will rape me.
A Because he was beating us, hitting us.
Q How did you come to know that?
Q Why, what was the reason why your father was
A He was raping me before, doing that before. hitting you?
Q In other words, that was not the first time your A To threaten us.
father raped you on that particular date?
Q For what purpose?
A No, sir.
A Whenever my mother sided with us, my father and
Q When was the first time, if you remember? mother engaged in a fight.
A When I was still in grade 1. Q In this case, you were raped and sexually abused
Q How many times were you raped by your father? by your father, what made you afraid of him?

A I can no longer remember how many it was - A Because we were afraid of my father since
several. childhood.[5]

Q When was the last time your father raped you? Dannilyn has given her testimony in a plain,
categorical, spontaneous and frank manner, remaining
A November 27. consistent throughout, and there is hardly anything on
record that can cast doubt on her sincerity. The
Q Now, when your father removed your short pants
revelations of an innocent child whose chastity has been
and panty, what did he do next?
abused, coupled with her willingness to face police
investigation and to undergo the trouble and humiliation 1. When the victim is under eighteen (18) years of age
of a public trial, should merit credence unless strong and the offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent,
justifications dictate otherwise. Indeed, it would take a guardian, relative by consanguinity or affinity within the
most senseless kind of depravity for a young daughter to third civil degree, or the common-law spouse of the
just make up a story which could put her own father to parent of the victim.
an undeserved indictment and to even possibly face
death in the hands of the law.[6] The concurrence of the minority of the victim and her
relationship to the offender are special qualifying
When rape is committed against ones own
circumstances that are needed to be alleged in the
daughter, the moral ascendancy and influence of the
complaint or information for the penalty of death to be
father, that necessarily flows from his parental authority,
decreed.[7] The Constitution guarantees to be inviolable
can sufficiently cow the child to submission and can
the right of an accused to be informed of the nature and
rightly be held to substitute for the requisite violence or
cause of the accusation against him.[8] It is a requirement
intimidation that, normally, would be characterized by
that renders it essential for every element of the offense
physical acts and uttered threats made on the victim.
with which he is charged to be properly alleged in the
The trite defenses of alibi and denial proferred by complaint or information.
appellant cannot prevail over the positive and
Here, the information failed to state the minority of
categorical statements of private complainant. Alibi is
the victim and her relationship with the offender, both
often viewed with suspicion and received with caution
special qualifying circumstances under Republic Act No.
not only because it is inherently weak and unreliable but
7659, and for want of such allegations, the trial court
also because it is easy to fabricate. In order that this
erred in imposing the death penalty on the
defense can prosper, it must be convincing to preclude
accused.[9] Appellant could only thus be convicted under
any doubt on the physical impossibility of the presence
Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, of
of the accused at the locus criminis at the time of the
simple rape punishable by reclusion perpetua.
incident. These conditions have not been met in the case
at bar. Anent the award of damages, the trial court has
correctly awarded P50,000.00 moral damages, an award
The contention of appellant that his wife and
that rests on the jural foundation that the crime of rape
daughter Dannilyn have accused him merely because of
necessarily brings with it shame, mental anguish,
his violent ways is much too flimsy to be believed. The
besmirched reputation, moral shock and social
mere resentment of a wife and daughter is not so
humiliation to the offended party.[10] In addition, the
compelling as to have motivated them to wrongly lodge
offended party deserves to receive the amount of
a complaint for a crime much more serious than might, if
P50,000.00 civil indemnity,[11] the equivalent of
at all, be expected.
compensatory damages, and exemplary damages in the
It is likewise a settled doctrine that the assessment amount of P25,000.00.
made by the trial court on the credibility of witnesses
An apparent discord in the award of exemplary
deserves great regard and weight on appeal. The rule is
damages in simple and qualified rape cases perhaps
not without reason; the trial judge has a unique position
deserves more than just a passing remark.
of hearing first hand the witnesses and observing their
deportment, conduct and attitude during the course of The Civil Code of the Philippines provides, in
the testimony in open court. There is no valid reason to respect to exemplary or corrective damages, thusly:
now ignore this long accepted jurisprudence in this
instance. ART. 2229. Exemplary or corrective damages are
This Court, however, finds the second assignment imposed, by way of example or correction for the public
of error impressed with merit. good, in addition to the moral, temperate, liquidated or
compensatory damages.
Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended
by Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659, at times also ART. 2230. In criminal offenses, exemplary damages as a
referred to as the Death Penalty Law, states in part: part of the civil liability may be imposed when the crime
was committed with one or more aggravating
Art. 335. When and how rape is committed. x x x circumstances. Such damages are separate and distinct
from fines and shall be paid to the offended party.
xxxxxxxxx
ART. 2231. In quasi-delicts, exemplary damages may be
The death penalty shall also be imposed if the crime of granted if the defendant acted with gross negligence.
rape is committed with any of the following attendant
circumstances: ART. 2232. In contracts and quasi-contracts, the court
may award exemplary damages if the defendant acted in
a wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive, or death penalty is to be imposed in rape cases when the
malevolent manner. victim is under eighteen (18) years of age and the
offender is a parent, ascendant, step-parent, guardian,
ART. 2233. Exemplary damages cannot be recovered as a relative by consanguinity or affinity within the third civil
matter of right; the court will decide whether or not they degree, or the common-law spouse of the parent of the
should be adjudicated. victim. The Court has since held that the circumstances
enumerated by the amendatory law are to be regarded
ART. 2234. While the amount of the exemplary damages as special qualifying (aggravating)
need not be proved, the plaintiff must show that he is circumstances. Somehow doubts linger on whether
entitled to moral, temperate or compensatory damages relationship may then be considered to warrant an
before the court may consider the question of whether award for exemplary damages where it is used to qualify
or not exemplary damages should be awarded. In case rape as a heinous crime, thereby becoming an element
liquidated damages have been agreed upon, although no thereof, as would subject the offender to the penalty of
proof of loss is necessary in order that such liquidated death. Heretofore, the Court has not categorically laid
damages may be recovered, nevertheless, before the down a specific rule, preferring instead to treat the issue
court may consider the question of granting exemplary on a case to case basis.
in addition to the liquidated damages, the plaintiff must In People vs. Fundano,[15] People vs.
show that he would be entitled to moral, temperate or [16]
Ramos, People vs. Medina,[17] People vs.
compensatory damages were it not for the stipulation Dimapilis,[18] People vs. Calayca,[19] People vs.
for liquidated damages. [20] [21]
Tabion, People vs. Bayona, People vs. Bayya, and [22]

People vs. Nuez,[23] along with still other cases, the Court
ART. 2235. A stipulation whereby exemplary damages has almost invariably appreciated relationship as an
are renounced in advance shall be null and void. ordinary aggravating circumstance in simple rape and
thereby imposed exemplary damages upon the offender
The attendance of aggravating circumstances in the whether or not the offense has been committed prior to
perpetration of the crime serves to increase the penalty or after the effectivity of Republic Act No.
(the criminal liability aspect),[12] as well as to justify an 7659. Exceptionally, as in People vs. Decena,[24] People
award of exemplary or corrective damages (the civil vs. Perez,[25] People vs. Perez,[26] and People vs.
liability aspect),[13] moored on the greater perversity of Ambray,[27] the Court has denied the award of exemplary
the offender manifested in the commission of the felony damages following the effectivity of that law. In qualified
such as may be shown by (1) the motivating power itself, rape cases, such as in People vs. Magdato,[28] People vs.
(2) the place of commission, (3) the means and ways Arizapa,[29] and People vs. Alicante,[30] the Court decreed
employed, (4) the time, or (5) the personal the payment of exemplary damages to the offended
circumstances of the offender or the offended party or party but it did not so do as in People vs. Alba,[31] People
both. There are various types of aggravating vs. Mengote,[32] and People vs. Maglente.[33]
circumstances, among them, the ordinary and the
qualifying. Relationship is an alternative circumstance It may be time for the Court to abandon its pro hac
under Article 15 of the Revised Penal Code. vice stance and provide, for the guidance of the bar and
the bench, a kind of standard on the matter.
Art. 15. Their concept. --Alternative circumstances are Also known as punitive or vindictive damages,
those which must be taken into consideration as exemplary or corrective damages are intended to serve
aggravating or mitigating according to the nature and as a deterrent to serious wrong doings, and as a
effects of the crime and other conditions attending its vindication of undue sufferings and wanton invasion of
commission. They are relationship, intoxication, and the rights of an injured or a punishment for those guilty
degree of instruction and education of the offender. of outrageous conduct. These terms are generally, but
not always, used interchangeably. In common law, there
The alternative circumstance of relationship shall be is preference in the use of exemplary damages when the
taken into consideration when the offended party is the award is to account for injury to feelings and for the
spouse, ascendant, descendant, legitimate, natural, or sense of indignity and humiliation suffered by a person
adopted brother or sister, or relative by affinity in the as a result of an injury that has been maliciously and
same degree of the offender. wantonly inflicted,[34] the theory being that there should
be compensation for the hurt caused by the highly
As a rule, relationship is held to be aggravating in reprehensible conduct of the defendant - associated
crimes against chastity, such as rape and acts of with such circumstances as willfulness, wantonness,
lasciviousness, whether the offender is a higher or a malice, gross negligence or recklessness, oppression,
lower degree relative of the offended party.[14] insult or fraud or gross fraud[35]- that intensifies the
injury. The terms punitive or vindictive damages are
Under Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7659,
often used to refer to those species of damages that
amending Article 335 of the Revised Penal Code, the
may be awarded against a person to punish him for his
outrageous conduct. In either case, these damages are circumstances if the complaint or information is bereft
intended in good measure to deter the wrongdoer and of any allegation of the presence of such circumstances.
others like him from similar conduct in the future.[36]
The retroactive application of procedural rules,
The term aggravating circumstances used by the nevertheless, cannot adversely affect the rights of the
Civil Code, the law not having specified otherwise, is to private offended party that have become vested prior to
be understood in its broad or generic sense. The the effectivity of said rules. Thus, in the case at bar,
commission of an offense has a two-pronged effect, one although relationship has not been alleged in the
on the public as it breaches the social order and the information, the offense having been committed,
other upon the private victim as it causes personal however, prior to the effectivity of the new rules, the
sufferings, each of which is addressed by, respectively, civil liability already incurred by appellant remains
the prescription of heavier punishment for the accused unaffected thereby.
and by an award of additional damages to the
WHEREFORE, the decision of the court a quo is
victim. The increase of the penalty or a shift to a graver
AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that appellant Danilo
felony underscores the exacerbation of the offense by
Catubig y Horio is found guilty only of simple rape and
the attendance of aggravating circumstances, whether
not in its qualified form, and he is hereby sentenced to
ordinary or qualifying, in its commission. Unlike the
suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay
criminal liability which is basically a State concern, the
complainant Dannilyn Catubig P50,000.00 civil
award of damages, however, is likewise, if not primarily,
indemnity, P50,000.00 moral damages and P25,000.00
intended for the offended party who suffers thereby. It
exemplary damages. Costs de oficio.
would make little sense for an award of exemplary
damages to be due the private offended party when the SO ORDERED.
aggravating circumstance is ordinary but to be withheld
when it is qualifying. Withal, the ordinary or qualifying
nature of an aggravating circumstance is a distinction
that should only be of consequence to the criminal,
rather than to the civil, liability of the offender. In fine,
relative to the civil aspect of the case, an aggravating
circumstance, whether ordinary or qualifying, should
entitle the offended party to an award of exemplary
damages within the unbridled meaning of Article 2230 of
the Civil Code.
Relevantly, the Revised Rules on Criminal
Procedure, made effective on 01 December 2000,
requires aggravating circumstances, whether ordinary or
qualifying, to be stated in the complaint or
information. Sections 8 and 9 of Rule 110 of the Rules of
Court now provide:

Sec. 8. Designation of the offense. - The complaint or


information shall state the designation of the offense
given by the statute, aver the acts or omissions
constituting the offense, and specify its qualifying and
aggravating circumstances. If there is no designation of
the offense, reference shall be made to the section or
subsection of the statute punishing it.

Sec. 9. Cause of the accusations. - The acts or omissions


complained of as constituting the offense and the
qualifying and aggravating circumstances must be
stated in ordinary and concise language and not
necessarily in the language used in the statute but in
terms sufficient to enable a person of common
understanding to know what offense is being charged
as well as its qualifying and aggravating circumstances
and for the court to pronounce judgment.

A court would thus be precluded from considering in its


judgment the attendance of qualifying or aggravating
The Secretary of the DOJ (Secretary of Justice),
in his Resolution dated 20 October 1997, modified the 2
THIRD DIVISION
July 1997 resolution of the City Prosecutor by directing
the latter to amend the Informations for Murder and
LOURDES BALTAZAR andEDISON BALTAZAR, Frustrated Murder to Homicide and Frustrated Homicide
Petitioners, - versus - JAIME CHUA y IBARRA, against Jovito and to drop Jaime from the charges. On 13
Respondent.
November 1997, Lourdes and Edison filed a motion for
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
reconsideration of the 20 October 1997 Resolution of
- - - - - - - -x
the Secretary of Justice, which was denied by the latter
on 15 December 1997.
DECISION
Meanwhile, on 11 November 1997, in
obedience to the directive of the Secretary of the DOJ,
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
the City Prosecutor filed with the RTC a Manifestation
and Motion for the Withdrawal of the Informations for
This Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule Murder and Frustrated Murder and for the Admission of
45 of the Rules of Court assails the Decision[1] of the New Informations for Homicide and Frustrated Homicide.
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 92671, which
annulled the 7 December 2004 Order[2] of the Regional Over the objections of Lourdes and Edison,
Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, Branch 37, directing the filing Judge Cruz granted the said manifestation and motion in
of Informations for Murder and Frustrated Murder an Order dated 18 November 1997, thereby leaving
against Jaime Chua (Jaime) and Jovito Armas, Jr. (Jovito). Jovito as the lone accused. The Order partly provides:

Jaime and Jovito were charged before the RTC Having been presented prior to
arraignment, the motion for withdrawal
Manila, Branch 27 with the crimes of homicide and
of the information for murder and
frustrated homicide for the death of Ildefonso Baltazar frustrated murder is granted pursuant
and the wounding of Edison Baltazar. The cases, which to Sec. 14, Rule 110 of the Revised
were docketed as Criminal Cases No. 97-154966 and No. Rules of Court. Consequently, the
97-154967, were presided by Judge Edgardo P. Cruz amended information for murder and
frustrated murder in Crim. Cases Nos.
(Judge Cruz).[3]
97-154966 and 97-154967, respectively,
are considered withdrawn.[4]
On 13 February 1997, petitioners Lourdes
Baltazar (Lourdes) and Edison Baltazar (Edison), through
counsel, filed a motion for reinvestigation of the cases, Unconvinced of the correctness of the dismissal
praying that Jaime and Jovito be charged with the crimes of the charges against Jaime and the downgrading of the
of murder and frustrated murder, instead of homicide charges against Jovito, Lourdes and Edison moved for a
and frustrated homicide. reconsideration. They asked the RTC to maintain the
informations for murder and frustrated murder against
In a Resolution dated 2 July 1997, the City Jovito and Jaime and asked the RTC to determine the
Prosecutors Office, upon reinvestigation, found that the existence of probable cause for these charges, pursuant
appropriate charges against Jaime and Jovito were to the ruling in Crespo v. Mogul,[5] which ruled that once
murder and frustrated murder. With this, the City an information is filed in court, the disposition of said
Prosecutor filed a motion for admission of amended case lies in the discretion of the trial court.
Informations for Murder and Frustrated Murder, which
was granted by Judge Cruz in an Order dated 9 In the meantime, the cases were re-raffled to
September 1997. Branch 37 of the Manila RTC presided over by Judge
Vicente A. Hidalgo (Judge Hidalgo) and docketed as
Jaime and Jovito appealed the 2 July Criminal Cases No. 97-161168 and No. 97-161169.
1997 Resolution of the City Prosecutor to the
Department of Justice (DOJ). Despite the transfer of the cases to the sala of
Judge Hidalgo, Judge Cruz, nonetheless, acted
on Lourdes and Edisons motion for reconsideration of of the Informations for Homicide and Frustrated
the Order dated 18 November 1997. In his order dated Homicide, which actually contained arguments identical
16 February 1998, Judge Cruz denied the said motion on with those in the Motion to Maintain the Amended
the ground that the proper motion to amend the Informations for Murder and Frustrated Murder filed by
informations for homicide and frustrated homicide to them on 4 March 1998; i.e., that the RTC should assert
murder and frustrated murder should be filed before its authority over said cases, independently of the
Branch 37, presided by Judge Hidalgo, where said cases opinion of the Secretary of Justice, and make its own
were transferred; and that the amendment of assessment whether there is sufficient evidence to hold
informations was a matter of right of the prosecution both Jaime and Jovito liable for the crime of murder and
before arraignment, thus: frustrated murder.

[T]he Court is in no position to In an Order dated 7 December 2004, Judge


favorably act on the instant motion. If, Hidalgo, after making his own assessment of the
indeed, there is probable cause for
documents presented by both the prosecution and the
indicting both accused for the crimes of
murder and frustrated murder, the defense, granted the motion and ordered the
appropriate motion (e.g. amendment reinstatement of the informations for murder and
of the information) should be filed in frustrated murder. The decretal portion of the Order
Criminal Cases Nos. 97-161168 and 97- reads:
161169 and not in these cases. To rule
otherwise would sanction multiple WHEREFORE, in view of the
charges (murder and homicide; and foregoing, the Informations for
frustrated murder and frustrated Homicide and Frustrated Homicide are
homicide) for a single offense, thereby considered withdrawn and the Court
places accused in double jeopardy x x hereby orders the reinstatement of the
x.[6] (Emphasis supplied.) Informations for murder and frustrated
murder x x x.[8]

On 4 March 1998, Lourdes and Edison filed


before Judge Cruz a Motion to Maintain the Amended On 26 April 2005, Jaime and Jovito filed a
Informations for Murder and Frustrated Murder. This motion for reconsideration. They argued that the RTC
motion mainly reiterates Lourdes and Edisons objection had no authority to make its own independent findings
to the dismissal of the charges against Jaime and the of facts to determine probable cause against them, apart
downgrading of the charges against Jovito. from the findings made by the Secretary of
Justice. Judge Hidalgo denied the said motion, opining
On 1 April 1998, Judge Cruz denied the that the RTC had the power and duty to make an
foregoing motion on the ground that the same was, in evaluation to determine the existence of probable cause
effect, a second motion for reconsideration of the Order for the charges, independent of the opinion of the
dated 18 November 1997, and that to act on the said Secretary of Justice. The dispositive part of the Order
motion would interfere with the prerogative of provides:
Judge Hidalgo of RTC Branch 37, where the cases were
transferred. The 1 April 1998 Order partly reads: Accordingly, the Motion for
Reconsideration filed by the accused is
[T]his branch cannot act on the motion hereby DENIED for lack of basis x x
to dismiss or consider withdrawn the x. Asst. City Prosecutor Ronaldo Hubilla
informations for homicide and is hereby directed within 10 days from
frustrated homicide, otherwise, it receipt hereof to file amended
would be interfering with the Informations for Murder and Frustrated
prerogatives of the other branch of this Murder against Jovito Armas, Jr. and
Court where those criminal actions are Jaime Chua, respectively.[9]
pending.[7]

Jaime then filed a petition for certiorari and


On 30 April 1998, Lourdes and Edison filed this prohibition with the Court of Appeals. Again, Jaime
time before Judge Hidalgo a Motion for the Amendment contended that Judge Hidalgo had no authority to order
the amendment of the informations and to include him filed in Court any disposition of the case
as co-accused, since such powers and prerogatives as [to] its dismissal or the conviction or
acquittal of the accused rests in the
revolved exclusively on the Department of Justice and
sound discretion of the court. Although
the City Prosecutor. the fiscal retains the direction and
control of the prosecution of criminal
In a Decision dated 24 January 2007, the Court cases even while the case is already in
of Appeals granted Jaimes petition and nullified the 7 court he cannot impose his opinion on
December 2004 Order of Judge Hidalgo, ruling that the the trial court. The court is the best and
sole judge on what to do with the case
same were issued in grave abuse of discretion
before it. The determination of the case
amounting to excess of jurisdiction. In nullifying is within its exclusive jurisdiction and
Judge Hidalgos Order, the Court of Appeals held competence. A motion to dismiss the
that Crespo was not applicable to the instant case, since case filed by the fiscal should be
Judge Hidalgo, unlike in the Crespo case, was not addressed to the Court who has the
confronted with a motion to dismiss or tasked to convict option to grant or deny the same.
or to acquit an accused. It maintained that the trial court
could only exercise its sound discretion on what to do
In observance of the tenet spelled out in Crespo,
with cases filed before it in line with Crespo, when there
the Court in Martinez v. Court of Appeals[11] lamented
was a pleading calling for the dismissal, conviction or
the trial courts grant of the motion to dismiss filed by
acquittal of the
the prosecution, upon the recommendation of the
accused. Since Lourdes and Edisons Motion for the
Secretary of Justice, as the judge merely relied on the
Amendment of the Informations for Homicide and
conclusion of the prosecution, thereby failing to perform
Frustrated Homicide filed on 30 April 1998 was not a
his function of making an independent evaluation or
motion to dismiss nor one aimed at convicting or
assessment of the merits of the case.
acquitting the accused, then Crespo found no relevance.
Crespo and Martinez mandated the trial courts
The Court of Appeals likewise stressed that the
to make an independent assessment of the merits of the
7 December 2004 Order of Judge Hidalgo was a patent
recommendation of the prosecution dismissing or
nullity since it revived the earlier 18 November 1997
continuing a case. This evaluation may be based on the
Order of Judge Cruz withdrawing the charges against
affidavits and counter-affidavits, documents, or evidence
Jaime, which had already attained finality on 6 October
appended to the information; the records of the public
1998.
prosecutor which the court may order the latter to
produce before the court; or any evidence already
Aggrieved, Lourdes and Edison filed the instant
adduced before the court by the accused at the time the
petition.
motion is filed by the public prosecutor.[12]Reliance on
the resolution of the Secretary of Justice alone is
We grant the petition.
considered an abdication of the trial courts duty and
jurisdiction to determine a prima facie case. While the
The basic issue at hand is whether
ruling of the Justice Secretary is persuasive, it is not
Judge Hidalgo may review the finding of the Secretary of
binding on courts.[13] The trial court is not bound by the
Justice on the existence or non-existence of probable
Resolution of the Justice Secretary, but must evaluate it
cause sufficient to hold Jaime for trial and substitute his
before proceeding with the trial.
judgment for that of the Secretary of Justice.
Considering that the trial court has the power
The rule is that once an information is filed in court, any
and duty to look into the propriety of the prosecutions
disposition of the case, be it dismissal, conviction, or
motion to dismiss, with much more reason is it for the
acquittal of the accused, rests on the sound discretion of
trial court to evaluate and to make its own appreciation
the court. Crespo v. Mogul[10] laid down this basic
and conclusion, whether the modification of the charges
precept in this wise:
and the dropping of one of the accused in the
information, as recommended by the Justice Secretary,
The rule therefore in this jurisdiction is
that once a complaint or information is is substantiated by evidence. This should be the state of
affairs, since the disposition of the case -- such as its
continuation or dismissal or exclusion of an accused -- is
reposed in the sound discretion of the trial court.[14] In so doing, the trial court relinquished its
judicial power in contravention to the pronouncement of
In the case under consideration, the City the Court in Crespo and in Martinez.
Prosecutor indicted Jaime and Jovito for the crimes of
murder and frustrated murder. However, upon review, Judge Cruz did not have a chance to correct his
the Secretary of Justice downgraded the charges to error since, during the pendency of the motion for
homicide and frustrated homicide. The Secretary also reconsideration questioning his order dated 18
dropped Jaime from the charges. This resolution November 1997, the cases were subsequently
prompted the City Prosecutor to file a Manifestation and transferred to another branch which was presided by
Motion for the Withdrawal of the Informations for Judge Hidalgo. Thus, in his supposed order resolving the
Murder and Frustrated Murder and for the Admission of said motion for reconsideration, Judge Cruz merely
New Informations for Homicide and Frustrated recommended to the movants to go to Judge Hidalgo,
Homicide against Jovito only, which was granted by who now had jurisdiction over the cases, and to question
Judge Cruz in his Order dated 18 November 1997. Judge therein whether the downgrading of the crimes charged
Cruz, however, failed to make an independent against Jovito and the exclusion of Jaime therefrom were
assessment of the merits of the cases and the evidence proper. Judge Cruz ruled in this wise:
on record or in the possession of the public
[T]he Court is in no position to
prosecutor. In granting the motion of the public
favorably act on the instant motion. If,
prosecutor to withdraw the Informations, the trial court indeed, there is probable cause for
never made any assessment whether the conclusions indicting both accused for the crimes of
arrived at by the Secretary of Justice was supported by murder and frustrated murder, the
evidence. It did not even take a look at the bases on appropriate motion (e.g. amendment
which the Justice Secretary downgraded the charges of the information) should be filed in
Criminal Cases Nos. 97-161168 and 97-
against Jovito and excluded Jaime therefrom. The said
161169 and not in these cases. To rule
order reads: otherwise would sanction multiple
charges (murder and homicide; and
For resolution is the frustrated murder and frustrated
prosecutions motion to withdraw the homicide) for a single offense, thereby
amended information for murder and placing accused in double jeopardy x x
frustrated murder and to admit, in lieu x.[16] (Emphasis supplied.)
thereof, the information for homicide
and frustrated homicide. (Manifestation
and Motion dated November 6, 1997). Heeding the advice of Judge
The motion was filed in compliance
Cruz, Lourdes and Edison, went to Judge Hidalgo where
with the resolution of the Secretary of
Justice dated October 20, they questioned anew the downgrading by the Justice
1997 directing the City Prosecutor to Secretary of the charges against Jovito and the exclusion
amend the information from murder of Jaime from the charges. After a thorough evaluation
and frustrated murder to homicide and of the evidence available vis-a-vis the Resolution of the
frustrated homicide against Jovito Justice Secretary, Judge Hidalgodisagreed with those
Armas, Jr. and to drop Jaime Chua from
findings. He found that the proper charges against Jovito
the charges.
were murder and frustrated murder and not homicide
Having been presented prior to and frustrated homicide. He, likewise, believed that
arraignment, the motion for withdrawal Jaime was involved in these crimes. The discussion of
of the information for murder and Judge Hidalgos Order dated 7 December 2004 is as
frustrated murder is granted pursuant follows:
to Sec. 14, Rule 110 of the Revised
Rules of Court. Consequently, the
In the affidavit executed by the private
amended information for murder and
complainant Lourdes Baltazar, she
frustrated murder in Crim. Cases Nos.
positively identified Jaime Chua, who
97-154966 and 97-154967, respectively
was just outside the door of the subject
are considered withdrawn.[15]
apartment, as the one who handed the from the victim. Hence, element of
gun to Jovito Armas, Jr. simultaneously treachery apparently exist.
directing the latter to fire the same to
the deceased by telling iyan tirahin From the statements of the witnesses
mo. This was confirmed by Edison for the prosecution, a prima facie
Baltazar, the son of the deceased, who evidence sufficient to form a
has a more vivid recollection of the reasonable belief that Jaime Chua is
incident, he being present in the scene likewise criminally liable as principal by
when the incident occurred and more induction.
so, a victim too, who was mortally
wounded in the crime complained In the incipiency, Jaime Chua appears to
of. He declared that his father was shot be the only adversary of Clarita Tan and
while both his hands were already thereafter the Baltazars whom Tan
raised as a manifestation that he has called up for intervention in that
(sic) no intention to fight Jaime Chua afternoon. There was an admission that
and Jovito Armas, Jr. Ildefonso turned Jaime Chua is the brother-in-law of
his back to back off and leave the Jovito Armas, Jr. and the latter likewise
aggressors but despite thereof Jovito work for the former as
Armas, Jr. proceeded to carry out the bodyguard. Futhermore, Chua was
commands of his boss Jaime Chua, present when the incident happened
resulting in the death of helpless being just a few meters from Jovito
Ildefonso Baltazar. Armas and from Ildefonso who was at
the door of Chuas apartment when the
When his father fell on the ground, he altercation between him and Ildefonso
saw Jovito Armas who was about to began. Edison who was beside his
shoot again his father. So, he surged to father narrated that he saw Chua
his father and covered the latter with handed the gun to Jovito Armas
his own body as a shield causing him to simultaneously commanding the
be shot in the process. latter: Tirahin mo iyan pointing at his
father. Clearly, a prima facie evidence
The summary of evidence demonstrates shows that Jovito Armas could not have
that there is a prima facie facts showing shot the deceased had not Chua
the presence of the element of ordered him to do so. Jovito Armas had
treachery in the case at bar. The no existing animosity with the deceased
circumstance shows that the shooting nor with Clarita Tan. Rather, it was
was sudden and unexpected to the Chua who apparently infuriated to the
deceased constituting the element of Clarita Tan and the persons who came
alevosia necessary to raise homicide to to her assistance in that afternoon.
murder, it appearing that the aggressor
adopted such mode of attack to The positive and direct testimony of
facilitate the perpetration of the killing victim Edison Baltazar and other
without risk to himself. This is evident witnesses for the prosecution indeed
since Jovito Armas, Jr. could have fired support a finding of probable
the gun to the anterior body of cause. Settled is the rule that the
Ildefonso Baltazar while the latter was finding of probable cause is based
still facing him.But to insure the neither on clear and convincing
commission of the killing or to make it evidence of guilt nor evidence
impossible or difficult for Ildefonso to establishing absolute certainty of
retaliate or defend himself, Jovito did guilt. It is merely based on opinion and
the shooting when Ildefonso reasonable belief, and so it is enough
manifested to retreat. The postmortem that there exists such state of facts as
findings confirmed that he was shot at would lead a person of ordinary caution
the right side of his abdomen. The and prudence to believe or entertain an
position of the victim, and the part of honest or strong suspicion that the
his body where the bullet passed accused committed the crime imputed.
through show that the sudden (sic) the
act of shooting made by Jovito Armas, Upon the other hand, the version of the
Jr. was purposely carried out without defense that it was Ildefonso himself
danger to himself of any retaliation who shot his own son is, at the stage of
the proceeding, incredible considering
the close distance of the Ildefonso from merits of the same, and not be subservient to the
Jovito Armas and Jaime Chua. Had he former.
really willed to fire the gun, which the
defense alleges Ildefonso possessed, to
Chua and Armas there is a slim chance The Court of Appeals insisted that the instant case did
of missing them in four successive not involve a disposal that would call for the trial courts
shots. Besides, the statements of the power to grant or deny the same.
witnesses for the defense failed to
provide clear details on how the This is inaccurate. Lourdes and Edisons Motion for the
shooting transpired in contract with the
Amendment of the Informations for Homicide and
clear testimonies of the witnesses for
the prosecution. At most the Frustrated Homicide, filed on 30 April 1998, was
statements made for the defense are questioning the dismissal of the cases against Jaime and
generally summation of facts, the the downgrading of the charges against Jovito. The
details of which is yet to be supported exclusion of Jaime from the charges was not only
by evidence to be presented and which disposing the cases against him, but also letting him free
should properly be ventilated in the
from any criminal liabilities arising from the death of
course of the trial on the
merits. Further, the Court is of the Ildefonso Baltazar and the wounding of Edison.
opinion that discussing the merits of
the defense at this stage of the As to the appellate courts holding that the 7 December
proceedings would result on probable 2004 Order of Judge Hidalgo revived the final order of
prejudgment of the case. Judge Cruz dated 18 November 1997, the same needs
clarification.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing,
the Informations for Homicide and It must be noted that the 18 November 1997
Frustrated Homicide are considered Order of Judge Cruz granting the motion of the
withdrawn and the Court hereby orders prosecution to Withdraw the Information for Murder
the reinstatement of the Informations and Frustrated Murder was in effect an affirmation by
for murder and frustrated murder in
the trial court of the Justice Secretarys directive
Criminal Case Nos. 97454966 and
9745496, respectively.[17] to downgrade the crimes against Jovito and to exclude
Jaime from these crimes. As discussed earlier, such grant
by Judge Cruz, absent any independent evaluation on his
In its questioned Decision, the Court of Appeals part of the merits of the resolution of the Justice
held that Judge Hidalgo gravely abused his discretion Secretary, constituted an abdication of his power,
amounting to excess of jurisdiction in issuing the rendering the said Order void. The rule in this
foregoing order. jurisdiction is that orders which are void can never attain
finality.[20] Since the 18 November 1997 Order is void,
There is excess of jurisdiction where, being the same has never attained finality. Besides,
clothed with the power to determine the case, the assuming arguendo that the 18 November 1997 Order
tribunal, board or officer oversteps its/his authority as was valid, the same could not have an adverse effect on
determined by law.[18]And there is grave abuse of the 7 December 2004 Order of Judge Hidalgo. As has
discretion where the capricious, whimsical, arbitrary or been noted, a timely motion for reconsideration was
despotic manner in which the court, tribunal, board or filed on the 18 November 1997 Order and Judge Cruz
officer exercises its/his judgment is said to be equivalent merely stated therein that he could not resolve the
to lack of jurisdiction.[19] merits of the dropping of Jaime from all the cases and
the downgrading of the crimes charged since the subject
Judge Hidalgo is far from being abusive in rendering his cases were already transferred to Judge Hidalgo. In the
questioned Order. He was merely following the subject order of Judge Cruz, he even stated that the said
injunctions of this Court that whenever a court is issues could only be resolved by Judge Hidalgo, before
presented with a motion to dismiss or to withdraw an whom the cases were pending. In other words, since
information or to exclude an accused from the charge Judge Cruz was divested of jurisdiction, the issue of the
(as heretofore discussed) upon the behest of the dropping of Jaime from all charges and the downgrading
Secretary of Justice, the trial court has to determine the of the charges against Jovito was not resolved by the 18
November 1997 Order. It was therefore proper for
Judge Hidalgo to resolve such issue since he had
jurisdiction over the cases.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals


dated 24 January 2007 nullifying the 7 December
2004 Order of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch
37 is hereby SET ASIDE. The 7 December 2004 Order of
RTC Branch 37, directing the filing of Informations for
Murder and Frustrated Murder against Jovito Armas, Jr.
and Jaime Chua, is REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.