Loney vs. People G.R. No. 152644, Feb.

10, 2006 Facts: Petitioners John Eric Loney, Steven Paul Reid and Pedro B. Hernandez are the Pres. and CEO, Senior Manager, and Resident Manager for Mining Operations, respectively, of Marcopper Mining Corp., a corporation engaged in mining in the province of Marinduque. Marcopper had been storing tailings (mine waste) from its operations in a pit in Mt. Tapian, Marinduque. At the base of the pit ran a drainage tunnel leading to the Boac and Makulapnit rivers. It appears that Marcopper had placed a concrete plug at the tunnel’s end. On March 24, 1994, tailings gushed out of or near the tunnel’s end. In a few days, Mt. Tapian pit had discharged millions of tons of tailings in to the Boac and Makalupnit rivers. In August 1996, the DOJ separately charged petitioners in the MTC of Boac, Marinduque with violation of Art. 91 (B), subparagraphs 5 and 6 of P.D. No. 1067 or the Water code of the Phil., Sec. 8 of P.D. No. 984 or the National Pollution Decree of 1976, Sec. 108 of R.A. No. 7942 or the Phil. Mining Act of 1995, and Art. 365 of the RPC for Reckless Imprudence Resulting to Damage to Property. In the Consolidated Order of MTC, granting partial reconsideration to its Joint Order quashing the information for violation of PD 1067 and PD 984. The MTC maintained the Informations for violation of RA 7942 and Art. 365 of the RPC. Petitioners subsequently filed a petition for certiorari with the RTC assailing that the portion of the Consolidated Order maintaining the Informations for violation of RA 7942 and the petition was raffled to Br. 94 while public respondent’s appeal assailing that portion of the Consolidated Order quashing the Info. for violation of P.D. 1067 and P.D. 984 and this appeal was consolidated with petitioners petition. MTC Br. 94 granted the public respondent’s appeal but denied petitioner’s petition. Petitioners then filed for certiorari with the Court of Appeals alleging that Br. 94 acted with grave abuse of discretion because 1.the Informations for violation of PD 1067, PD 984, RA 7942 and the Art. 365 of the RPC “proceeded from are based on a single act or incident of polluting the rivers thru dumping of mine tailings, and the charge for violation of Art 365 of the RPC absorbs the other charges since the element of “lack of necessary or adequate protection, negligence, recklessness and imprudence” is common among them, 2. the duplicitous nature of the Informations contravenes the ruling in People v. Relova. The Court of Appeals affirmed the Br. 94 ruling. Issue: 1. Whether or not all the charges filed against petitioners except one should be quashed for duplicity of charges and only the charge for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Damage to Property should stand 2. whether or not Br. 94’s ruling, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, contravenes People v. Relova. Ruling: The petition has no merit. Duplicity of charges simply means a single complaint or information charges more than one offense, as Sec. 13 of Rule 110 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure. As early as the start of the last century, the court ruled that a single act or incident might offend against two or more entirely distinct and unrelated provisions of law thus justifying the prosecution of the accused for more than one offense and the only limit is the Constitutional prohibition that no person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishing for the same offense. In People vs. Doriquez, the court held that two or more offenses arising form the same act are not the same. And so, double jeopardy is not an issue because not all its elements are present. On petitioners claim that the charges for violation of Art. 365 of the RPC “absorbs” the charges for violation of PD 1067, PD 984 and RA 7942, suffice it to say that a mala in se felony (such as Reckless Imprudence Resulting to Damage in Property) cannot absorb mala prohibita crimes (such as those violating PD 1067, PD 984 and RA 7942). What makes the former felony is criminal intent (dolo) or negligence (culpa) and what makes the latter crimes are the special laws enacting them. Petitioners reiterate their contention in that their prosecution contravenes ruling in People vs. Relova. In particular, petitioners cite the court’s statement in Relova that the law seeks to prevent harassment of the accused by “multiple prosecutions for offenses which though different from one another are nonetheless each constituted by a common set or overlapping sets of technical elements. Thus, Relova is no authority for petitioners’ claim against multiple prosecutions based on a single act not only because the question of double jeopardy is not an issue here, but also because, as the Court of Appeals held, petitioners are being prosecuted for an act or incident punished by four national statutes and not by an ordinance and a national statute. In short, petitioners, if ever fall under the first sentence of Sec. 21, Art. III which prohibits multiple prosecution for the same offense, and not, as in Relova, for offenses arising from the same incident.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful