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2008 CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CASES preliminary investigation in what has been dubbed
as the "Ultra Stampede" case.
In the days leading to February 4, 2006, people
started to gather in throngs at the Philsports Arena
Case Title Pag MA. ROSARIO SANTOS-CONCIO, MA. SOCORRO (formerly Ultra) in Pasig City, the publicized site of
e V. VIDANES, MARILOU ALMADEN, CIPRIANO the first anniversary episode of "Wowowee," a
SANTOS-CONCIO vs. DEPARTMENT OF 2 LUSPO, MORLY STEWART NUEVA, HAROLD noontime game show aired by ABS-CBN
JUSTICE (G.R. No. 175057 - January 29, JAMES NUEVA, NORBERT VIDANES, FRANCISCO Broadcasting Corporation (ABS-CBN). With high
2008) RIVERA, MEL FELICIANO, and JEAN OWEN hopes of winning the bonanza, hundreds queued for
BOISER, vs. PEOPLE OF THE 11 ERCIA, days and nights near the venue to assure
PHILIPPINES (G.R. No. 180299 - January vs. themselves of securing tickets for the show. Little
31, 2008) DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, HON. RAUL M. did they know that in taking a shot at instant
BALANGAUAN vs. COURT OF APPEALS 14 GONZALEZ, as Secretary of the Department of fortune, a number of them would pay the ultimate
(G. R. No. 174350 - August 13, 2008) Justice, NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION - wager and place their lives at stake, all in the name
SANTOS vs BERNARDO (AM No. MTJ-07- 29 NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, PANEL of bagging the prizes in store.
1670 - July 23, 2008) OF INVESTIGATING PROSECUTORS created Came the early morning of February 4, 2006 with
MENDOZA vs. ALARMA (G.R. No. 151970 40 under Department of Justice Department thousands more swarming to the venue. Hours
- May 7, 2008) Order No. 165 dated 08 March 2006, LEO B. before the show and minutes after the people were
DACERA III, as Chairman of the Panel of allowed entry through two entry points at six
JOSE vs. SUAREZ (G.R. No. 176795 - 43 Investigating Prosecutors, and DEANA P. o’clock in the morning, the obstinate crowd along
June 30, 2008) PEREZ, MA. EMILIA L. VICTORIO, EDEN S. Capt. Javier Street jostled even more just to get
WAKAY-VALDES and PETER L. ONG, as close to the lower rate pedestrian gate. The mad
GALO MONGE vs. PEOPLE OF THE 49 Members of the Panel of Investigating rush of the unruly mob generated much force,
PHILIPPINES (G.R. No. 170308 - March Prosecutors, the EVALUATING PANEL created triggering the horde to surge forward with such
7, 2008) under Department of Justice Department momentum that led others to stumble and get
CRUZ vs. THE PEOPLE OF THE 52 Order No. 90 dated 08 February 2006, trampled upon by the approaching waves of people
PHILIPPINES (G.R. No. 176504 - JOSELITA C. MENDOZA as Chairman of the right after the gate opened. This fatal stampede
September 03, 2008) Evaluating Panel, and MERBA WAGA, RUEL claimed 71 lives, 69 of whom were women, and left
LASALA and ARNOLD ROSALES, as Members of hundreds wounded4 which necessitated emergency
the Evaluating Panel, . medical support and prompted the cancellation of
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. ROSAS 58
G.R. No. 175057 January 29, 2008 the show’s episode.
(G.R. No. 177825 - October 24, 2008)
The Department of Interior and Local Government
DECISION (DILG), through then Secretary Angelo Reyes,
FERRER, vs. SANDIGANBAYAN (G.R. No. 69
CARPIO MORALES, J.: immediately created an inter-agency fact-finding
161067 - March 14, 2008)
On challenge via petition for review on certiorari are team5 to investigate the circumstances surrounding
the Court of Appeals May 24, 2006 Decision and the stampede. The team submitted its report6 to the
October 10, 2006 Resolution1 in CA-G.R. SP No. DOJ on February 7, 2006.
93763 dismissing herein petitioners’ petition for By Department Order No. 90 of February 8, 2006,
certiorari and prohibition that sought to (i) annul respondent DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzalez (Gonzalez)
respondent Department of Justice (DOJ) Department constituted a Panel (Evaluating Panel)7 to evaluate
Order Nos. 902 and 1653 dated February 8, 2006 the DILG Report and "determine whether there is
and March 8, 2006, respectively, and all orders, sufficient basis to proceed with the conduct of a
proceedings and issuances emanating therefrom, preliminary investigation on the basis of the
and (ii) prohibit the DOJ from further conducting a documents submitted."
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The Evaluating Panel later submitted to Gonzalez a 291, "NCR-NBI v. Santos-Concio, et al.," and if and the Chief Executive, and have,
February 20, 2006 Report8 concurring with the DILG warranted by the evidence, to file the appropriate therefore, lost their impartiality to
Report but concluding that there was no sufficient information and prosecute the same before the conduct preliminary investigation.
basis to proceed with the conduct of a preliminary appropriate court. The following day or on March 9, Respondents have already prejudged
investigation in view of the following considerations: 2006, the Investigating Panel issued subpoenas 14 the case as shown by the indecent
a) No formal complaint/s had been directing the therein respondents to appear at the haste by which the proceedings were
filed by any of the victims and/or preliminary investigation set on March 20 and 27, conducted.
their relatives, or any law 2006. The alleged complaint-affidavits filed
enforcement agency authorized to file At the initial preliminary investigation, petitioners against Petitioners were not under
a complaint, pursuant to Rule 110 of sought clarification and orally moved for the oath.
the Revised Rules of Criminal inhibition, disqualification or desistance of the The supposed complaint-affidavits
Procedure; Investigating Panel from conducting the filed against Petitioners failed to state
b) While it was mentioned in the Fact- investigation.15 The Investigating Panel did not the acts or omissions constituting the
Finding Report that there were 74 formally resolve the motion, however, as petitioners crime.
deaths and 687 injuries, no manifested their reservation to file an appropriate Although Respondents may have the
documents were submitted to prove motion on the next hearing scheduled on March 27, power to conduct criminal
the same, e.g. death certificates, 2006, without prejudice to other remedies.16 investigation or preliminary
autopsy reports, medical certificates, On March 23, 2006, petitioners filed a petition for investigation, Respondents do not
etc.; certiorari and prohibition with the Court of Appeals have the power to conduct both in
c) The Fact-Finding Report did not which issued on March 27, 2006 a Resolution17 the same case.22 (Emphasis and
indicate the names of the persons granting the issuance of a temporary restraining underscoring supplied)
involved and their specific order,18 conducted on April 24, 2006 a hearing on The issues shall, for logical reasons, be resolved in
participation in the "Ultra Incident"; the application for a writ of preliminary injunction, reverse sequence.
d) Most of the victims did not and subsequently promulgated the assailed two On the Investigatory Power of the DOJ
mention, in their sworn statements, issuances. In the assailed Decision, the appellate court ruled
the names of the persons whom they In the meantime, the Investigating Panel, by that the Department Orders were issued within the
alleged to be responsible for the Resolution19 of October 9, 2006, found probable scope of authority of the DOJ Secretary pursuant to
"Ultra Incident".9 cause to indict the respondents-herein petitioners the Administrative Code of 198723 bestowing
Respondent National Bureau of Investigation- for Reckless Imprudence resulting in Multiple general investigatory powers upon the DOJ.
National Capital Region (NBI-NCR), acting on the Homicide and Physical Injuries, and recommended Petitioners concede that the DOJ has the power to
Evaluating Panel’s referral of the case to it for the conduct of a separate preliminary investigation conduct both criminal investigation and preliminary
further investigation, in turn submitted to the DOJ against certain public officials.20 Petitioners’ Motion investigation but not in their case,24 they invoking
an investigation report, by a March 8, 2006 for Reconsideration21 of the said October 9, 2006 Cojuangco, Jr. v. PCGG.25 They posit that in
transmittal letter (NBI-NCR Report10), with Resolution, filed on October 30, 2006 "with Cojuangco, the reshuffling of personnel was not
supporting documents recommending the conduct abundance of caution," is pending resolution, and in considered by this Court which ruled that the entity
of preliminary investigation for Reckless the present petition they additionally pray for its which conducted the criminal investigation is
Imprudence resulting in Multiple Homicide and annulment. disqualified from conducting a preliminary
Multiple Physical Injuries11 against petitioners and In asserting their right to due process, specifically to investigation in the same case. They add that the
seven others12 as respondents. a fair and impartial preliminary investigation, DOJ cannot circumvent the prohibition by simply
Acting on the recommendation of the NBI-NCR, petitioners impute reversible errors in the assailed creating a panel to conduct the first, and another to
Gonzalez, by Department Order No. 165 of March 8, issuances, arguing that: conduct the second.
2006, designated a panel of state prosecutors13 Respondents have already prejudged In insisting on the arbitrariness of the two
(Investigating Panel) to conduct the preliminary the case, as shown by the public Department Orders which, so they claim, paved the
investigation of the case, docketed as I.S. No. 2006- declarations of Respondent Secretary way for the DOJ’s dual role, petitioners trace the
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basis for the formation of the five-prosecutor conclusion on such sufficiency or insufficiency preliminary investigation, there being no statement
Investigating Panel to the NBI-NCR Report which needs to rest on some basis or justification. of specific and individual acts or omissions
was spawned by the supposed criminal Had the Evaluating Panel carried out measures constituting reckless imprudence. They bewail the
investigation26 of the Evaluating Panel the members partaking of a criminal investigation, it would have assumptions or conclusions of law in the NBI-NCR
of which included two, albeit different, prosecutors. gathered the documents that it enumerated as Report as well as the bare narrations in the
While petitioners do not assail the constitution of lacking. Notatu dignum is the fact that the affidavits that lack any imputation relating to them
the Evaluating Panel,27 they claim that it did not just Evaluating Panel was dissolved functus oficio upon as the persons allegedly responsible.
evaluate the DILG Report but went further and rendering its report. It was the NBI, a constituent IN FINE, petitioners contend that absent any act or
conducted its own criminal investigation by unit29 of the DOJ, which conducted the criminal omission ascribed to them, it is unreasonable to
interviewing witnesses, conducting an ocular investigation. It is thus foolhardy to inhibit the expect them to confirm, deny or explain their side.
inspection, and perusing the evidence. entire DOJ from conducting a preliminary A complaint for purposes of conducting a
Petitioners’ position does not lie. Cojuangco was investigation on the sheer ground that the DOJ’s preliminary investigation differs from a complaint
borne out of a different factual milieu. constituent unit conducted the criminal for purposes of instituting a criminal prosecution.
In Cojuangco, this Court prohibited the Presidential investigation. Confusion apparently springs because two
Commission on Good Government (PCGG) from Moreover, the improbability of the DOJ contradicting complementary procedures adopt the usage of the
conducting a preliminary investigation of the its prior finding is hardly appreciable. It bears same word, for lack of a better or alternative term,
complaints for graft and corruption since it had recalling that the Evaluating Panel found no to refer essentially to a written charge. There
earlier found a prima facie case – basis of its sufficient basis to proceed with the conduct of a should be no confusion about the objectives,
issuance of sequestration/freeze orders and the preliminary investigation. Since the Evaluating however, since, as intimated during the hearing
filing of an ill-gotten wealth case involving the same Panel’s report was not adverse to petitioners, before the appellate court, preliminary investigation
transactions. The Court therein stated that it is prejudgment may not be attributed "vicariously," so is conducted precisely to elicit further facts or
"difficult to imagine how in the conduct of such to speak, to the rest of the state prosecutors. evidence.31 Being generally inquisitorial, the
preliminary investigation the PCGG could even Partiality, if any obtains in this case, in fact weighs preliminary investigation stage is often the only
make a turn about and take a position contradictory heavily in favor of petitioners. means of discovering the persons who may be
to its earlier findings of a prima facie case," and so On the Alleged Defects of the Complaint reasonably charged with a crime, to enable the
held that "the law enforcer who conducted the On the two succeeding issues, petitioners fault the preparation of a complaint or information.32
criminal investigation, appellate court’s dismissal of their petition despite, Consider the following pertinent provision of Rule
gathered the evidence and thereafter filed the so they claim, respondents’ commission of grave 112 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure:
complaint for the purpose of preliminary abuse of discretion in proceeding with the SEC. 3. Procedure. – The preliminary
investigation cannot be allowed to conduct the preliminary investigation given the fatal defects in investigation shall be conducted in
preliminary investigation of his own complaint." 28 the supposed complaint. the following manner:
The present case deviates from Cojuangco. Petitioners point out that they cannot be compelled (a) The complaint shall state the
The measures taken by the Evaluating Panel do not to submit their counter-affidavits because the NBI- address of the respondent and shall
partake of a criminal investigation, they having NCR Report, which they advert to as the complaint- be accompanied by the affidavits
been done in aid of evaluation in order to relate the affidavit, was not under oath. While they admit that of the complainant and his
incidents to their proper context. Petitioners’ own there were affidavits attached to the NBI-NCR witnesses, as well as other
video footage of the ocular inspection discloses this Report, the same, they claim, were not executed by supporting documents to
purpose. Evaluation for purposes of determining the NBI-NCR as the purported complainant, leaving establish probable cause. They
whether there is sufficient basis to proceed with the them as "orphaned" supporting affidavits without a shall be in such number of copies as
conduct of a preliminary investigation entails not sworn complaint-affidavit to support. there are respondents, plus two (2)
only reading the report or documents in isolation, These affidavits, petitioners further point out, copies for the official file. The
but also deems to include resorting to reasonably nonetheless do not qualify as a complaint30 within affidavits shall be subscribed and
necessary means such as ocular inspection and the scope of Rule 110 of the Rules of Court as the sworn to before any prosecutor or
physical evidence examination. For, ultimately, any allegations therein are insufficient to initiate a government official authorized to
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administer oath, or, in their absence there any averment on the part of the (Emphasis and underscoring
or unavailability, before a notary BSP and PDIC officers of personal supplied)
public, each of whom must certify knowledge of the events and A preliminary investigation can thus validly proceed
that he personally examined the transactions constitutive of the on the basis of an affidavit of any competent
affiants and that he is satisfied that criminal violations alleged to have person, without the referral document, like the NBI-
they voluntarily executed and been made by the accused. In fact, NCR Report, having been sworn to by the law
understood their affidavits.33 the letters clearly stated that what enforcer as the nominal complainant. To require
(Emphasis and underscoring the OSI of the BSP and the LIS of the otherwise is a needless exercise. The cited case of
supplied) PDIC did was to respectfully transmit Oporto, Jr. v. Judge Monserate38 does not appear to
As clearly worded, the complaint is not entirely the to the DOJ for preliminary dent this proposition. After all, what is required is to
affidavit of the complainant, for the affidavit is investigation the affidavits and reduce the evidence into affidavits, for while
treated as a component of the complaint. The personal knowledge of the acts of the reports and even raw information may justify the
phraseology of the above-quoted rule recognizes petitioner. These affidavits were initiation of an investigation, the preliminary
that all necessary allegations need not be contained subscribed under oath by the investigation stage can be held only after sufficient
in a single document. It is unlike a criminal witnesses who executed them before evidence has been gathered and evaluated which
"complaint or information" where the averments a notary public. Since the affidavits, may warrant the eventual prosecution of the case in
must be contained in one document charging only not the letters transmitting them, court.39
one offense, non-compliance with which renders it were intended to initiate the In the present case, there is no doubt about the
vulnerable to a motion to quash.34 preliminary investigation, we hold existence of affidavits. The appellate court found
The Court is not unaware of the practice of that Section 3(a), Rule 112 of the that "certain complaint-affidavits were already filed
incorporating all allegations in one document Rules of Court was substantially by some of the victims,"40 a factual finding to which
denominated as "complaint-affidavit." It does not complied with. this Court, by rule, generally defers.
pronounce strict adherence to only one approach, Citing the ruling of this Court in A complaint for purposes of conducting preliminary
however, for there are cases where the extent of Ebarle v. Sucaldito, the Court of investigation is not required to exhibit the attending
one’s personal knowledge may not cover the entire Appeals correctly held that a structure of a "complaint or information" laid down
gamut of details material to the alleged offense. complaint for purposes of preliminary in Rule 110 (Prosecution of Offenses) which already
The private offended party or relative of the investigation by the fiscal need not speaks of the "People of the Philippines" as a
deceased may not even have witnessed the be filed by the offended party. The party,41 an "accused" rather than a respondent, 42
fatality,35 in which case the peace officer or law rule has been that, unless the and a "court" that shall pronounce judgment.43 If a
enforcer has to rely chiefly on affidavits of offense subject thereof is one "complaint or information" filed in court does not
witnesses. The Rules do not in fact preclude the that cannot be prosecuted de comply with a set of constitutive averments, it is
attachment of a referral or transmittal letter similar oficio, the same may be filed, for vulnerable to a motion to quash. 44 The filing of a
to that of the NBI-NCR. Thus, in Soriano v. preliminary investigation purposes, motion to dismiss in lieu of a counter-affidavit is
Casanova,36 the Court held: by any competent person. The proscribed by the rule on preliminary investigation,
A close scrutiny of the letters crime of estafa is a public crime however.45 The investigating officer is allowed to
transmitted by the BSP and PDIC to which can be initiated by "any dismiss outright the complaint only if it is not
the DOJ shows that these were not competent person." The witnesses sufficient in form and substance or "no ground to
intended to be the complaint who executed the affidavits based on continue with the investigation"46 is appreciated.
envisioned under the Rules. It may be their personal knowledge of the acts The investigating fiscal, to be sure,
clearly inferred from the tenor of the committed by the petitioner fall has discretion to determine the
letters that the officers merely within the purview of "any competent specificity and adequacy of
intended to transmit the affidavits of person" who may institute the averments of the offense charged. He
the bank employees to the DOJ. complaint for a public crime. x x x37 may dismiss the complaint forthwith
Nowhere in the transmittal letters is if he finds it to be insufficient in form
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or substance or if he otherwise finds conclusions that a crime had been committed, that To petitioners, the declarations admittedly50 made
no ground to continue with the the show was the proximate cause, and that the by Gonzalez tainted the entire DOJ, including the
inquiry, or proceed with the show’s organizers are guilty thereof: Evaluating and Investigating Panels, since the
investigation if the complaint is, in his February 6, 2006: "[ ] should have Department is subject to the direct control and
view, in due and proper form. It anticipated it because one week na supervision of Gonzalez in his capacity as DOJ
certainly is not his duty to require a iyan e. The crowds started gathering Secretary who, in turn, is an alter ego of the
more particular statement of the since one week before. This is simply President.
allegations of the complaint merely negligence x x x on the part of Petitioners thus fault the appellate court in not
upon the respondents’ motion, and the organizers." finding grave abuse of discretion on the part of the
specially where after an analysis of February 14, 2006: "I think ABS-CBN Investigating Panel members who "refused to inhibit
the complaint and its supporting is trying to minimize its own themselves from conducting the preliminary
statements he finds it sufficiently responsibility and it’s discernible investigation despite the undeniable bias and
definite to apprise the respondents of from the way by which talk shows partiality publicly displayed by their superiors."51
the offenses which they are charged. nila being conducted on people who Pursuing, petitioners posit that the bias of the DOJ
Moreover, the procedural device of a talk about liabilities of others. Secretary is the bias of the entire DOJ.52 They thus
bill of particulars, as the Solicitor "The reason for this conclude that the DOJ, as an institution, publicly
General points out, appears to have incident was the program. adjudged their guilt based on a pre-determined
reference to informations or criminal If there was no program, there notion of supposed facts, and urge that the
complaints filed in a competent court would have been no Investigating Panel and the entire DOJ for that
upon which the accused are stampede. There would have matter should inhibit from presiding and deciding
arraigned and required to plead, and been no people. There would over such preliminary investigation because they,
strictly speaking has no application to have been no attempt by as quasi-judicial officers, do not possess the "cold
complaints initiating a preliminary people to queue there for days neutrality of an impartial judge."53
investigation which cannot result in and rush for the nearest entry Responding to the claim of prejudgment,
any finding of guilt, but only of point." respondents maintain that the above-cited
probable cause.47 (Italics and ellipses March 20, 2006: "I’ll bet everything statements of Gonzalez and the President merely
in the original omitted; underscoring I have that they are responsible indicate that the incident is of such nature and
supplied) at least on the civil aspect."49 magnitude as to warrant a natural inference that it
Petitioners’ claims of vague allegations or (Emphasis in the original) would not have happened in the ordinary course of
insufficient imputations are thus matters that can Continuing, petitioners point out that long before things and that any reasonable mind would
be properly raised in their counter-affidavits to the conclusion of any investigation, Gonzalez conclude that there is a causal connection between
negate or belie the existence of probable cause. already ruled out the possibility that some other the show’s preparations and the resultant deaths
On the Claim of Bias and Prejudgment cause or causes led to the tragedy or that someone and injuries.
On the remaining issues, petitioners charge else or perhaps none should be made criminally Petitioners’ fears are speculatory.
respondents to have lost the impartiality to conduct liable; and that Gonzalez had left the preliminary Speed in the conduct of proceedings by a judicial or
the preliminary investigation since they had investigation to a mere determination of who within quasi-judicial officer cannot per se be instantly
prejudged the case, in support of which they cite ABS-CBN are the program’s organizers who should attributed to an injudicious performance of
the "indecent" haste in the conduct of the be criminally prosecuted. functions.54 For one’s prompt dispatch may be
proceedings. Thus, they mention the conduct of the Petitioners even cite President Arroyo’s declaration another’s undue haste. The orderly administration
criminal investigation within 24 working days48 and in a radio interview on February 14, 2006 that of justice remains as the paramount and constant
the issuance of subpoenas immediately following "[y]ang stampede na iyan, Jo, ay isang trahedya na consideration,55 with particular regard of the
the creation of the Investigating Panel. pinapakita yung kakulangan at pagkapabaya… circumstances peculiar to each case.
Petitioners likewise cite the following public nagpabaya ng organisasyon na nag-organize nito." The presumption of regularity56 includes the public
declarations made by Gonzalez as expressing his officer’s official actuations in all phases of work.57
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Consistent with such presumption, it was incumbent is confined to the issue of whether A word on the utilization by petitioners of the video
upon petitioners to present contradictory evidence the executive or judicial footages provided by ABS-CBN. While petitioners
other than a determination, as the case may be, of deny wishing or causing respondents to be biased
mere tallying of days or numerical calculation. 58 probable cause was done without or and impartial,66 they admit67 that the media, ABS-
This, petitioners failed to discharge. The swift in excess of jurisdiction or with grave CBN included, interviewed Gonzalez in order to elicit
completion of the Investigating Panel’s initial task abuse of discretion amounting to his opinion on a matter that ABS-CBN knew was
cannot be relegated as shoddy or shady without want of jurisdiction. This is consistent pending investigation and involving a number of its
discounting the presumably regular performance of with the general rule that criminal own staff. Gonzalez’s actuations may leave much to
not just one but five state prosecutors. prosecution may not be restrained or be desired; petitioners’ are not, however, totally
As for petitioners’ claim of undue haste indicating stayed by injunction, preliminary or spotless as circumstances tend to show that they
bias, proof thereof is wanting. The pace of the final. There are, however, were asking for or fishing from him something that
proceedings is anything but a matter of exceptions to this rule x x x could later be used against him to favor their cause.
acceleration. Without any objection from the enumerated in Brocka vs. Enrile (192 A FINAL WORD. The Court takes this occasion to
parties, respondents even accorded petitioners a SCRA 183, 188-189 [1990]) x x x. In echo its disposition in Cruz v. Salva68 where it
preliminary investigation even when it was not these exceptional cases, this Court censured a fiscal for inexcusably allowing undue
required since the case involves an alleged offense may ultimately resolve the existence publicity in the conduct of preliminary investigation
where the penalty prescribed by law is below Four or non-existence of probable cause and appreciated the press for wisely declining an
Years, Two Months and One Day.59 by examining the records of the unusual probing privilege. Agents of the law ought
Neither is there proof showing that Gonzalez preliminary investigation x x x.63 to recognize the buoys and bounds of prudence in
exerted undue pressure on his subordinates to tailor (Emphasis and underscoring discharging what they may deem as an earnest
their decision with his public declarations and supplied) effort to herald the government’s endeavor in
adhere to a pre-determined result. The Evaluating Even assuming arguendo that petitioners’ case falls solving a case.
Panel in fact even found no sufficient basis, it bears under the exceptions enumerated in Brocka, any WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED.
emphatic reiteration, to proceed with the conduct of resolution on the existence or lack of probable Costs against petitioners.
a preliminary investigation, and one member of the cause or, specifically, any conclusion on the issue of SO ORDERED.
Investigating Panel even dissented to its October 9, prejudgment as elucidated in Ladlad, is made to
2006 Resolution. depend on the records of the preliminary
To follow petitioner’s theory of institutional bias investigation. There have been, as the appellate
would logically mean that even the NBI had court points out, no finding to speak of when the
prejudged the case in conducting a criminal petition was filed, much less one that is subject to
investigation since it is a constituent agency of the judicial review due to grave abuse.64 At that
DOJ. And if the theory is extended to the President’s incipient stage, records were wanting if not nil since
declaration, there would be no more arm of the the Investigating Panel had not yet resolved any
government credible enough to conduct a criminal matter brought before it, save for the issuance of
investigation and a preliminary investigation. subpoenas. The Court thus finds no reversible error
On petitioners citation of Ladlad v. Velasco60 where on the part of the appellate court in dismissing
a public declaration by Gonzalez was found to petitioners’ petition for certiorari and prohibition
evince a "determination to file the Information even and in refraining from reviewing the merits of the
in the absence of probable cause,"61 their attention case until a ripe and appropriate case is presented.
is drawn to the following ruling of this Court in Otherwise, court intervention would have been only
Roberts, Jr. v. Court of Appeals:62 pre-emptive and piecemeal.
Ordinarily, the determination of Oddly enough, petitioners eventually concede that
probable cause is not lodged with this they are "not asking for a reversal of a ruling on
Court. Its duty in an appropriate case probable cause."65
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acceded. Thereafter, the cases were raffled to


On June 4, 2004, three (3) Informations were filed Branch 2 of the same court. On March 1, 2005,
against petitioner, charging him with acts of petitioner again filed a Motion to Inhibit the judge of
lasciviousness, other acts of child abuse, and rape [4] Branch 2. The same was granted and the case was
of minor AAA before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), raffled to Branch 4 of the same court. Then again,
Branch 1, Tagbilaran, Bohol. petitioner filed a Motion to Inhibit the Judge of
Branch 4. The three (3) cases were then raffled to
On June 11, 2004, petitioner filed a Motion praying Branch 49 of the said court.
that a hearing be conducted to determine the
existence of probable cause and to hold in On August 19, 2005, petitioner filed an Omnibus
abeyance the issuance of a warrant of arrest Motion to Quash the three (3) Informations to which
against him. On June 16, 2004, private respondent private respondent filed an Opposition. On June 30,
filed an Opposition thereto. 2006, Branch 49 issued a Joint Order denying the
aforesaid motion. A Motion for Reconsideration was
On June, 18, 2004, the family court issued three (3) filed by petitioner citing absence of probable cause
separate Orders in the three (3) criminal cases, and lack of jurisdiction over his person as grounds
directing the prosecution to submit additional in support of his motion. However, upon the request
evidence on the cases along with the transcript of of private respondent’s parents, the Judge of
proceedings during the preliminary investigation. Branch 49 inhibited himself from hearing the three
On June 20, 2004, the prosecutor filed a (3) cases. Finally, the cases were raffled to Branch 3
Manifestation saying that the prosecution had no of the RTC of Tagbilaran City, Bohol, presided over
additional evidence to present and that due to the by Judge Venancio J. Amila (Judge Amila).
LYNDON D. BOISER, vs. PEOPLE OF THE non-availability of a stenographer who could take
PHILIPPINES down notes during the preliminary investigation on On November 6, 2006, the lower court issued an
G.R. No. 180299 April 28, 2004 and May 7, 2004, he personally took Omnibus Order denying petitioner’s omnibus
January 31, 2008 down notes, and submitted certified photocopies of motion for reconsideration to quash the
the same to the court. On July 2, 2004, the family informations. On November 22, 2006, petitioner
RESOLUTION court directed the City Prosecution Office in filed anew an Urgent Omnibus Motion to Quash. On
Tagbilaran City to complete the preliminary November 30, 2006, the RTC issued an Order
NACHURA, J.: investigation in a regular manner with duly denying the second omnibus motion to quash, and
recorded proceedings attended by a stenographer. set the arraignment on December 15, 2006. A day
Before the Court is a petition for review on On August 4, 2004, a Reinvestigation Report was before the arraignment, petitioner filed a Second
certiorari[2] assailing the Decision of the Court of submitted by the prosecutor maintaining the Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration of the order
Appeals (CA), dated June 5, 2007 in CA-G.R. CEB-SP. existence of probable cause in the three cases. denying his motion to quash.
No. 02368.[3]
On August 9, 2004, petitioner filed an Omnibus On December 15, 2006, petitioner reminded Judge
The main issue in this case is whether the CA Motion for Determination of Probable Cause. On Amila of his second omnibus motion for
committed reversible error in affirming the decision September 10, 2004, the family court issued three reconsideration. Judge Amila, in open court, denied
of the RTC which denied petitioner’s omnibus (3) separate Orders finding probable cause against for lack of merit the second omnibus motion for
motion to quash the informations filed against him. petitioner in the three (3) cases, issued a warrant of reconsideration. Upon arraignment, petitioner
arrest against him and fixed the corresponding bail refused to enter a plea for the 3 cases. Accordingly,
Based on the findings of the CA, the pertinent facts for each case. On November 19 and 24, 2004, a plea of not guilty was entered for petitioner for
of the case are as follows: petitioner filed Motions to Inhibit the judge of each of the 3 criminal cases.
Branch 1 from hearing the 3 cases. The judge
8

defenses he had invoked in his motion and, if after


On January 2, 2007, petitioner filed a Petition for trial on the merits, an adverse decision is rendered, SO ORDERED.
certiorari[5] before the CA claiming that the family to appeal therefrom in the manner authorized by
court acted with grave abuse of discretion in issuing law.[10] Based on the findings of the investigating
the orders denying his omnibus motions to quash prosecutor and of the trial judge, probable cause
the information. exists to indict petitioner for the 3 offenses. Absent
any showing of arbitrariness on the part of the
On June 5, 2007, the CA rendered a Decision[6] investigating prosecutor or any other officer
affirming the Orders of the RTC. In denying the authorized by law to conduct preliminary
petition, the CA ratiocinated that it cannot reverse investigation, courts as a rule must defer to said
the RTC orders because: (1) an order denying a officer’s finding and determination of probable
motion to quash is interlocutory and not appealable; cause, since the determination of the existence of
and (2) the petitioner failed to positively prove probable cause is the function of the prosecutor.[11]
grave abuse of discretion on the part of the RTC
judge in the issuance of the assailed orders. The It is obvious to this Court that petitioner’s
fallo of the Decision reads: insistent filing of numerous motions to inhibit the
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is judge hearing the 3 criminal cases and of motions
hereby DENIED. The assailed orders of the to quash is a ploy to delay the proceedings, a
respondent judge are hereby AFFIRMED. reprehensible tactic that impedes the orderly
administration of justice. If he is truly innocent,
Costs against the petitioner. petitioner should bravely go to trial and prove his
defense. After all, the purpose of a preliminary
SO ORDERED.[7] investigation is merely to determine whether a
A motion for reconsideration was filed by petitioner crime has been committed and whether there is
which the CA denied in a Resolution[8] dated probable cause to believe that the person accused
September 19, 2007. of the crime is probably guilty thereof and should be
held for trial. A finding of probable cause needs only
On November 16, 2007, petitioner filed the instant to rest on evidence showing that more likely than
case raising the following arguments: not a crime has been committed and was
The Honorable Court of Appeals has decided [a] committed by the suspect. Probable cause need not
question of substance, not theretofore determined be based on clear and convincing evidence of guilt,
by the Supreme Court, or has decided it in a way neither on evidence establishing guilt beyond SPOUSES BERNYL BALANGAUAN &
not in accord with law or with the applicable reasonable doubt, and definitely, not on evidence KATHERENE BALANGAUAN
decisions of the Supreme Court: establishing absolute certainty of guilt.[12] vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS,
That the Honorable Court of Appeals has so far As to the allegation of petitioner that the RTC has SPECIAL NINETEENTH (19TH) DIVISION, CEBU
departed from the accepted and usual course of not acquired jurisdiction over his person, this issue CITY & THE HONGKONG AND SHANGHAI
judicial proceedings, or so far sanctioned such has been rendered moot and academic with BANKING CORPORATION, LTD.
departure by the lower court.[9] petitioner’s arraignment in the 3 cases and his G. R. No. 174350
We resolve to deny the petition. taking part in the proceedings therein. August 13, 2008
A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 is not the x--------------------------------------
proper remedy against an order denying a motion WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition ------------x
to quash. The accused should instead go to trial, is DENIED for lack of merit. Costs against the
without prejudice on his part to present the special petitioner. DECISION
9

York maintained several accounts with


respondent HSBC. Sometime in April 2002, he went Bank personnel of respondent HSBC likewise
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: to respondent HSBC’s Cebu Branch to transact with recounted in their affidavits that prior to the filing of
petitioner Katherene respecting his Dollar and Peso the complaint for estafa and/or qualified estafa,
Accounts. Petitioner Katherene being on vacation at they were in contact with petitioners Bernyl and
Before Us is a Petition for Certiorari under the time, York was attended to by another PCSR. Katherene. Petitioner Bernyl supposedly met with
Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court assailing the While at the bank, York inquired about the status of them on two occasions. At first he disavowed any
28 April 2006 Decision[1] and 29 June 2006 his time deposit in the amount of P2,500,000.00. knowledge regarding the whereabouts of York’s
Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. The PCSR representative who attended to him, money but later on admitted that he knew that his
CEB-SP No. 00068, which annulled and set aside the however, could not find any record of said wife invested the funds with Shell Company. He
6 April 2004[3] and 30 August 2004[4] Resolutions placement in the bank’s data base. likewise admitted that he made the phone banking
of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in I.S. No. 02- deposit to credit York’s account with the P12,500.00
9230-I, entitled “The Hongkong and Shanghai York adamantly insisted, though, that and the P8,333.33 using their landline telephone.
Banking Corporation v. Katherine Balangauan, et through petitioner Katherene, he made a placement With respect to petitioner Katherene, she allegedly
al.” The twin resolutions of the DOJ affirmed, in of the aforementioned amount in a higher-earning spoke to the bank personnel and York on several
essence, the Resolution of the Office of the City time deposit. York further elaborated that occasions and admitted that the funds were indeed
Prosecutor,[5] Cebu City, which dismissed for lack petitioner Katherene explained to him that the invested with Shell Company but that York knew
of probable cause the criminal complaint for Estafa alleged higher-earning time deposit scheme was about this.
and/or Qualified Estafa, filed against petitioner- supposedly being offered to Premier clients only.
Spouses Bernyl Balangauan (Bernyl) and Katherene Upon further scrutiny and examination, respondent So as not to ruin its name and goodwill
Balangauan (Katherene) by respondent Hong Kong HSBC’s bank personnel discovered that: (1) on 18 among its clients, respondent HSBC reimbursed
and Shanghai Banking Corporation, Ltd. (HSBC). January 2002, York pre-terminated a P1,000,000.00 York the P2,500,000.00.
time deposit; (2) there were cash movement tickets
In this Petition for Certiorari, petitioners and withdrawal slips all signed by York for the Based on the foregoing factual
Bernyl and Katherene urge this Court to “reverse amount of P1,000,000.00; and (3) there were circumstances, respondent HSBC, through its
and set aside the Decision of the Court of Appeals, regular movements in York’s accounts, i.e., personnel, filed a criminal complaint for Estafa
Special nineteenth (sic) [19th] division (sic), Cebu beginning in the month of January 2002, monthly and/or Qualified Estafa before the Office of the City
City (sic) and accordingly, dismiss the complaint deposits in the amount of P12,500.00 and Prosecutor, Cebu City.
against the [petitioners Bernyl and Katherene] in P8,333.33 were made, which York denied ever
view of the absence of probable cause to warrant making, but surmised were the regular interest Petitioners Bernyl and Katherene submitted
the filing of an information before the Court and for earnings from the placement of the P2,500,000.00. their joint counter-affidavit basically denying the
utter lack of merit.”[6] allegations contained in the affidavits of the
It was likewise discovered that the above- aforenamed employees of respondent HSBC as well
As culled from the records, the antecedents mentioned deposits were transacted using as that made by York. They argued that the
of the present case are as follows: petitioner Katherene’s computer and work station allegations in the Complaint-Affidavits were pure
using the code or personal password “CEO8.” The fabrications. Specifically, petitioner Katherene
Petitioner Katherene was a Premier significance of code “CEO8,” according to the bank denied 1) having spoken on the telephone with Dy
Customer Services Representative (PCSR) of personnel of respondent HSBC, is that, “[i]t is only and York; and 2) having admitted to the personnel
respondent bank, HSBC. As a PCSR, she managed Ms. Balangauan who can transact from [the] of respondent HSBC and York that she took the
the accounts of HSBC depositors with Premier computer in the work station CEO-8, as she is P2,500,000.00 of York and invested the same with
Status. One such client and/or depositor handled by provided with a swipe card which she keeps sole Shell Corporation. Petitioner Bernyl similarly denied
her was Roger Dwayne York (York). custody of and only she can use, and which she 1) having met with Dy, Iñigo, Cortes and Arcuri; and
utilizes for purposes of performing bank 2) having admitted to them that York knew about
transactions from that computer.”[7]
10

petitioner Katherene’s move of investing the these two time ordinary account holder. Mr. York
former’s money with Shell Corporation. deposits (sic) accounts, admittedly is a long-standing client of
Ms. Balangauan asked the bank. Within the period of ‘long-
Respecting the P12,500.00 and P8,333.33 me to sign several standing’ he certainly must have
regular monthly deposits to York’s account made Bank documents on effected some withdrawals. It goes
using the code “CEO8,” petitioners Bernyl and several occasions, the without saying therefore that the
Katherene, in their defense, argued that since it was nature of which I was occasions that Ms. Balangauan
a deposit, it was her duty to accept the funds for unfamiliar with.’ caused him to sign withdrawal slips
deposit. As regards York’s time deposit with are not his first encounter with such
respondent HSBC, petitioners Bernyl and Katherene `20. I kinds of documents.
insisted that the funds therein were never entrusted discovered later that
to Katherene in the latter’s capacity as PCSR these were withdrawal The one ineluctable conclusion
Employee of the former because monies deposited slips and cash therefore that can be drawn from the
“at any bank would not and will not be entrusted to movement tickets, with premises is that Mr. York freely and
specific bank employee but to the bank as a whole.” which documents Ms. knowingly knew what was going on
Balangauan apparently with his money, who has in
Following the requisite preliminary was able to withdraw possession of them and where it was
investigation, Assistant City Prosecutor (ACP) Victor the amount from my invested. These take out the
C. Laborte, Prosecutor II of the OCP, Cebu City, in a accounts, and take the elements of deceit, fraud, abuse of
Resolution[8] dated 21 February 2003, found no same from the confidence and without the owner’s
probable cause to hold petitioners Bernyl and premises of the Bank.’ consent in the crimes charged.
Katherene liable to stand trial for the criminal
complaint of estafa and/or qualified estafa, In determining the credibility The other leg on which
particularly Article 315 of the Revised Penal Code. of an evidence, it is well to consider complainant’s cause of action stands
Accordingly, the ACP recommended the dismissal the probability or improbability of rest on its claim for sum of money
of respondent HSBC’s complaint. one’s statements for it has been said against respondents allegedly after it
that there is no test of the truth of reimbursed Mr. York for his missing
The ACP explained his finding, viz: human testimony except its account supposedly taken/withdrawn
conformity to our knowledge, by Ms. Balangauan. The bank’s action
As in any other cases, we observation and experience. against respondents would be a civil
may never know the ultimate truth of suit against them which apparently it
this controversy. But on balance, the Mr. York could not have been already did after the bank steps into
evidence on record tend to be that unwary and unknowingly the shoes of Mr. York and becomes
supportive of respondents’ contention innocent to claim unfamiliarity with the creditor of Ms. Balangauan.[9]
rather than that of complaint. withdrawal slips and cash movement
tickets which Ms. Balangauan made The ACP then concluded that:
xxxx him to sign on several occasions. He
is a premier client of HSBC
First of all, it is well to dwell on maintaining an account in millions of By and large, the evidence on
what Mr. York said in his affidavit. pesos. A withdrawal slip and cash record do (sic) not engender enough
Thus: movement tickets could not have had bases to establish a probable cause
such intricate wordings or against respondents.[10]
`18. For terminology so as to render them
purposes of opening non-understandable even to an
11

On 1 July 2003, respondent HSBC appealed unlawfully took the money and On 28 April 2006, the Court of Appeals
the above-quoted resolution and foregoing fraudulently invested it somewhere promulgated its Decision granting respondent
comment to the Secretary of the DOJ by means of a else x x x, because after the HSBC’s petition, thereby annulling and setting aside
Petition for Review. withdrawals were made, the money the twin resolutions of the DOJ.
never reached Roger York as The fallo of the assailed decision reads:
In a Resolution dated 6 April 2004, the Chief appellant adopted hook, line and
State Prosecutor, Jovencito R. Zuño, for the sinker the latter’s declaration, despite WHEREFORE, in view of the
Secretary of the DOJ, dismissed the petition. In York’s signatures on the withdrawal foregoing premises, judgment is
denying respondent HSBC’s recourse, the Chief slips covering the total amount of hereby rendered by us GRANTING the
State Prosecutor held that: P2,500,000.00 x x x. While appellant petition filed in this case. The assailed
has every reason to suspect Resolutions dated April 6, 2004 and
Sec. 12 (c) of Department Katherene for the loss of the August 30, 2004 are ANNULLED and
Circular No. 70 dated July 2, 2000 P2,500,000.00 as per York’s bank SET ASIDE.
provides that the Secretary of Justice statements, the cash deposits were
may, motu proprio, dismiss outright identified by the numerals “CEO8” The City Prosecutor of Cebu
the petition if there is no showing of and it was only Katherene who could City is hereby ORDERED to file the
any reversible error in the questioned transact from the computer in the appropriate Information against the
resolution. work station CEO-8, plus alleged private respondents.[12]
photographs showing Katherene
We carefully examined the “leaving her office at 5:28 p.m. with a
petition and its attachments and bulky plastic bag presumably Petitioners Bernyl and Katherene’s motion for
found no reversible error that would containing cash” since a portion of reconsideration proved futile, as it was denied by
justify a reversal of the assailed the funds was withdrawn, we do not, the appellate court in a Resolution dated 29 June
resolution which is in accord with the however, dwell on possibilities, 2006.
law and evidence on the matter. suspicion and speculation. We rule
based on hard facts and solid Hence, this petition for certiorari filed under Rule 65
evidence. of the Revised Rules of Court.
Respondent HSBC’s Motion for
Reconsideration was likewise denied with finality by Moreover, an examination of Petitioners Bernyl and Katherene filed the
the DOJ in a lengthier Resolution dated 30 August the petition for review reveals that present petition on the argument that the Court of
2004. appellant failed to append thereto all Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in
The DOJ justified its ruling in this wise: annexes to respondents’ urgent reversing and setting aside the resolutions of the
A perusal of the motion manifestations x x x together with DOJ when: (1) “[i]t reversed the resolution of the
reveals no new matter or argument supplemental affidavits of Melanie de Secretary of Justice, Manila dated August 30, 2004
which was not taken into Ocampo and Rex B. Balucan x x x, and correspondingly, gave due course to the
consideration in our review of the which are pertinent documents Petition for Certiorari filed by HSBC on April 28,
case. Hence, we find no cogent required under Section 5 of 2006 despite want of probable cause to warrant the
reason to reconsider our resolution. Department Circular No. 70 dated July filing of an information against the herein
Appellant failed to present any iota of 3, 2000.[11] petitioners”[13]; (2) “[i]t appreciated the dubious
evidence directly showing that evidence adduced by HSBC albeit the absence of
respondent Katherene Balangauan Respondent HSBC then went to the Court of legal standing or personality of the latter”[14]; (3)
took the money and invested it Appeals by means of a Petition for Certiorari under “[i]t denied the motions for reconsideration on June
somewhere else. All it tried to Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court. 29, 2006 notwithstanding the glaring evidence
establish was that Katherene proving the innocence of the petitioners”[15]; (4)
12

“[i]t rebuffed the evidence of the herein petitioners Resolution of the Court of Appeals granting the SEC. 2. Time for filing;
in spite of the fact that, examining such evidence respondent HSBC’s petition in CA-G.R. CEB. SP No. extension. – The petition shall be filed
alone would establish that the money in question 00068 is already a disposition on the merits. within fifteen (15) days from notice of
was already withdrawn by Mr. Roger Dwayne Therefore, both decision and resolution, issued by the judgment or final order or
York”[16]; and (5) “[i]t failed to dismiss outright the the Court of Appeals, are in the nature of a final resolution appealed from, or of the
petition by HSBC considering that the required disposition of the case set before it, and which, denial of the petitioner’s motion for
affidavit of service was not made part or attached in under Rule 45, are appealable to this Court via a new trial or reconsideration filed in
the said petition pursuant to Section 13, Rule 13 in Petition for Review on Certiorari, viz: due time after notice of the
relation to Section 3, Rule 46, and Section 2, Rule judgment. x x x.
56 of the Rules of Court.”[17] SECTION 1. Filing of petition
with Supreme Court. – A party
Required to comment on the petition, desiring to appeal by certiorari from a a party litigant wishing to file a petition for review
respondent HSBC remarked that the filing of the judgment or final order or resolution on certiorari must do so within 15 days from
present petition is improper and should be of the Court of Appeals, the receipt of the judgment, final order or resolution
dismissed. It argued that the correct remedy is an Sandiganbayan, the Regional Trial sought to be appealed. In this case, petitioners
appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Court or other courts whenever Bernyl and Katherene’s motion for reconsideration
Rules of Court. authorized by law, may file with the of the appellate court’s Resolution was denied by
Supreme Court a verified petition for the Court of Appeals in its Resolution dated 29 June
Petitioners Bernyl and Katherene, on the review on certiorari. The petition shall 2006, a copy of which was received by petitioners
other hand, asserted in their Reply[18] that the raise only questions of law which on 4 July 2006. The present petition was filed on 1
petition filed under Rule 65 was rightfully filed must be distinctly set forth. September 2006; thus, at the time of the filing of
considering that not only questions of law were (Emphasis supplied.) said petition, 59 days had elapsed, way beyond the
raised but questions of fact and error of jurisdiction 15-day period within which to file a petition for
as well. They insist that the Court of Appeals It is elementary in remedial law that a writ of review under Rule 45, and even beyond an
“clearly usurped into the jurisdiction and authority certiorari will not issue where the remedy of appeal extended period of 30 days, the maximum period
of the Public Prosecutor/Secretary of justice (sic) x x is available to an aggrieved party. A remedy is for extension allowed by the rules had petitioners
x.”[19] considered "plain, speedy and adequate" if it will sought to move for such extra time. As the facts
promptly relieve the petitioners from the injurious stand, petitioners Bernyl and Katherene had lost the
Given the foregoing arguments, there is effects of the judgment and the acts of the lower right to appeal via Rule 45.
need to address, first, the issue of the mode of court or agency.[21] In this case, appeal was not
appeal resorted to by petitioners Bernyl and only available but also a speedy and adequate Be that as it may, alternatively, if the
Katherene. The present petition is one for certiorari remedy.[22] And while it is true that in accordance decision of the appellate court is attended by grave
under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court. Notice with the liberal spirit pervading the Rules of Court abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
that what is being assailed in this recourse is the and in the interest of substantial justice,[23] this jurisdiction, then such ruling is fatally defective on
decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals Court has, before,[24] treated a petition for jurisdictional ground and may be questioned even
dated 28 April 2006 and 29 June 2006, respectively. certiorari as a petition for review on certiorari, after the lapse of the period of appeal under Rule
The Revised Rules of Court, particularly Rule 45 particularly if the petition for certiorari was filed 45[26] but still within the period for filing a petition
thereof, specifically provides that an appeal by within the reglementary period within which to file a for certiorari under Rule 65.
certiorari from the judgments or final orders or petition for review on certiorari;[25] this exception
resolutions of the appellate court is by verified is not applicable to the present factual milieu. We have previously ruled that grave abuse
petition for review on certiorari.[20] of discretion may arise when a lower court or
Pursuant to Sec. 2, Rule 45 of the Revised tribunal violates and contravenes the Constitution,
In the present case, there is no question that Rules of Court: the law or existing jurisprudence. By grave abuse
the 28 April 2006 Decision and 29 June 2006 of discretion is meant such capricious and whimsical
13

exercise of judgment as is equivalent to lack of and speculation’ and that he rules sum is nowhere to be found in the
jurisdiction. The abuse of discretion must be grave, ‘based on hard facts and solid records of the bank, then, apparently,
as where the power is exercised in an arbitrary or evidence’, (sic) the public respondent Ms. Balangauan must be made to
despotic manner by reason of passion or personal exceeded his authority and gravely account for the same.[31]
hostility and must be so patent and gross as to abused his discretion. It must be
amount to an evasion of positive duty or to a virtual remembered that a finding of
refusal to perform the duty enjoined by or to act at probable cause does not require an The appellate court then concluded that:
all in contemplation of law.[27] The word inquiry into whether there is sufficient
“capricious,” usually used in tandem with the term evidence to procure a conviction. It is These facts engender a well-
“arbitrary,” conveys the notion of willful and enough that it is believed that the act founded belief that that (sic) a crime
unreasoning action. Thus, when seeking the or omission complained of constitutes has been committed and that the
corrective hand of certiorari, a clear showing of the offense charged. The term does private respondents are probably
caprice and arbitrariness in the exercise of not mean ‘actual or positive cause;’ guilty thereof. In refusing to file the
discretion is imperative.[28] (sic) nor does it import absolute corresponding information against
certainty. It is merely based on the private respondents despite the
In reversing and setting aside the resolutions opinion and reasonable belief. presence of the circumstances
of the DOJ, petitioners Bernyl and Katherene [Citation omitted.] A trial is there making out a prima facie case against
contend that the Court of Appeals acted with grave precisely for the reception of them, the public respondent gravely
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of evidence of the prosecution in abused his discretion amounting to
jurisdiction. support of the charge. an evasion of a positive duty or to a
virtual refusal either to perform the
The Court of Appeals, when it resolved to In this case, the petitioner had duty enjoined or to act at all in
grant the petition in CA-G.R. CEB. SP No. 00068, did amply established that it has a prima contemplation of law.[32]
so on two grounds, i.e., 1) that “the public facie case against the private
respondent (DOJ) gravely abused his discretion in respondents. As observed by the
finding that there was no reversible error on the public respondent in his second The Court of Appeals found fault in the DOJ’s
part of the Cebu City Prosecutor dismissing the case assailed resolution, petitioner was failure to identify and discuss the issues raised by
against the private respondent without stating the able to present photographs of the respondent HSBC in its Petition for Review filed
facts and the law upon which this conclusion was private respondent Ms. Balangauan therewith. And, in support thereof, respondent
made”[29]; and 2) that “the public respondent leaving her office carrying a bulky HSBC maintains that it is incorrect to argue that “it
(DOJ) made reference to the facts and plastic bag. There was also the fact was not necessary for the Secretary of Justice to
circumstances of the case leading to his finding that that the transactions in Mr. York’s have his resolution recite the facts and the law on
no probable cause exists, x x x (the) very facts and account used the code ‘CEO8’ which which it was based,” because courts and quasi-
circumstances (which) show that there exists a presumably point to the private judicial bodies should faithfully comply with Section
probable cause to believe that indeed the private respondent Ms. Balangauan as the 14, Article VIII of the Constitution requiring that
respondents committed the crimes x x x charged author thereof for she is the one decisions rendered by them should state clearly and
against them.”[30] assigned to such work station. distinctly the facts of the case and the law on which
the decision is based.[33]
It explained that: Furthermore, petitioner was
able to establish that it was Ms. Petitioners Bernyl and Katherene, joined by
In refusing to file the Balangauan who handled Mr. York’s the Office of the Solicitor General, on the other
appropriate information against the account and she was the one hand, defends the DOJ and assert that the
private respondents because he ‘does authorized to make the placement of questioned resolution was complete in that it stated
not dwell on possibilities, suspicion the sum of P2,500,000.00. Since said the legal basis for denying respondent HSBC’s
14

petition for review – “that (after) an examination the prosecutor is an officer of the executive 8, plus alleged photographs showing Katherene
(of) the petition and its attachment [it] found no department exercising powers akin to those of a ‘leaving her office at 5:28 p.m. with a bulky plastic
reversible error that would justify a reversal of the court, and the similarity ends at this point.[36] A bag presumably containing cash’ since a portion of
assailed resolution which is in accord with the law quasi-judicial body is an organ of government other the funds was withdrawn, we do not, however, dwell
and evidence on the matter.” than a court and other than a legislature which on possibilities, suspicion and speculation. We rule
affects the rights of private parties through either based on hard facts and solid evidence.”[38]
It must be remembered that a preliminary adjudication or rule-making.[37] A quasi-judicial
investigation is not a quasi-judicial proceeding, and agency performs adjudicatory functions such that We do not agree.
that the DOJ is not a quasi-judicial agency its awards, determine the rights of parties, and their
exercising a quasi-judicial function when it reviews decisions have the same effect as judgments of a Probable cause has been defined as the
the findings of a public prosecutor regarding the court. Such is not the case when a public existence of such facts and circumstances as would
presence of probable cause. In Bautista v. Court of prosecutor conducts a preliminary investigation to excite belief in a reasonable mind, acting on the
Appeals,[34] this Court held that a preliminary determine probable cause to file an Information facts within the knowledge of the prosecutor, that
investigation is not a quasi-judicial proceeding, against a person charged with a criminal offense, or the person charged was guilty of the crime for
thus: when the Secretary of Justice is reviewing the which he was prosecuted.[39] A finding of probable
former’s order or resolutions. In this case, since the cause merely binds over the suspect to stand trial.
[T]he prosecutor in a preliminary DOJ is not a quasi-judicial body, Section 14, Article It is not a pronouncement of guilt.[40]
investigation does not determine the VIII of the Constitution finds no application. Be that
guilt or innocence of the accused. He as it may, the DOJ rectified the shortness of its first The executive department of the
does not exercise adjudication nor resolution by issuing a lengthier one when it government is accountable for the prosecution of
rule-making functions. Preliminary resolved respondent HSBC’s motion for crimes, its principal obligation being the faithful
investigation is merely inquisitorial, reconsideration. execution of the laws of the land. A necessary
and is often the only means of component of the power to execute the laws is the
discovering the persons who may be Anent the substantial merit of the case, right to prosecute their violators,[41] the
reasonably charged with a crime and whether or not the Court of Appeals’ decision and responsibility for which is thrust upon the DOJ.
to enable the fiscal to prepare his resolution are tainted with grave abuse of discretion Hence, the determination of whether or not
complaint or information. It is not a in finding probable cause, this Court finds the probable cause exists to warrant the prosecution in
trial of the case on the merits and has petition dismissible. court of an accused is consigned and entrusted to
no purpose except that of the DOJ. And by the nature of his office, a public
determining whether a crime has The Court of Appeals cannot be said to have prosecutor is under no compulsion to file a
been committed and whether there is acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to particular criminal information where he is not
probable cause to believe that the lack or excess of jurisdiction in reversing and convinced that he has evidence to prop up the
accused is guilty thereof. While the setting aside the resolutions of the DOJ. In the averments thereof, or that the evidence at hand
fiscal makes that determination, he resolutions of the DOJ, it affirmed the points to a different conclusion.
cannot be said to be acting as a recommendation of ACP Laborte that no probable
quasi-court, for it is the courts, cause existed to warrant the filing in court of an But this is not to discount the possibility of
ultimately, that pass judgment on the Information for estafa and/or qualified estafa the commission of abuses on the part of the
accused, not the fiscal. against petitioners Bernyl and Katherene. It was prosecutor. It is entirely possible that the
the reasoning of the DOJ that “[w]hile appellant has investigating prosecutor has erroneously exercised
every reason to suspect Katherene for the loss of the discretion lodged in him by law. This, however,
Though some cases[35] describe the public the P2,500,000.00 as per York’s bank statements, does not render his act amenable to correction and
prosecutor’s power to conduct a preliminary the cash deposits were identified by the numerals annulment by the extraordinary remedy of
investigation as quasi-judicial in nature, this is true ‘CEO8’ and it was only Katherene who could certiorari, absent any showing of grave abuse of
only to the extent that, like quasi-judicial bodies, transact from the computer in the work station CEO- discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction.[42]
15

respondent HSBC when in fact the records of the made a total of P2,500,000.00 investment in the
And while it is this Court’s general policy not case were teeming; or it discounted the value of “new product” by authorizing petitioner Balangauan
to interfere in the conduct of preliminary such substantiation when in fact the evidence to transfer said funds to it; that petitioner
investigations, leaving the investigating officers presented was adequate to excite in a reasonable Katherene supposedly asked York to sign several
sufficient discretion to determine probable cause, mind the probability that petitioners Bernyl and transaction documents in order to transfer the
[43] we have nonetheless made some exceptions to Katherene committed the crime/s complained of. In funds to the “new product”; that said documents
the general rule, such as when the acts of the so doing, the DOJ whimsically and capriciously turned out to be withdrawal slips and cash
officer are without or in excess of authority,[44] exercised its discretion, amounting to grave abuse movement tickets; that at no time did York receive
resulting from a grave abuse of discretion. of discretion, which rendered its resolutions the cash as a result of signing the documents that
Although there is no general formula or fixed rule amenable to correction and annulment by the turned out to be withdrawal slips/cash movement
for the determination of probable cause, since the extraordinary remedy of certiorari. tickets; that York’s account was regularly credited
same must be decided in the light of the conditions “loose change” in the amounts of P12,500.00 and
obtaining in given situations and its existence From the records of the case, it is clear that P8,333.33 beginning in the month after the alleged
depends to a large degree upon the finding or a prima facie case for estafa/qualified estafa exists “transfer” of York’s funds to the “new product”; that
opinion of the judge conducting the examination, against petitioners Bernyl and Katherene. A perusal the regular deposits of loose change were
such a finding should not disregard the facts before of the records, i.e., the affidavits of respondent transacted with the use of petitioner Katherene’s
the judge (public prosecutor) or run counter to the HSBC’s witnesses, the documentary evidence work terminal accessed by her password “CEO8”;
clear dictates of reason.[45] presented, as well as the analysis of the factual that the “CEO8” password was keyed in with the
milieu of the case, leads this Court to agree with the use of a swipe card always in the possession of
Applying the foregoing disquisition to the Court of Appeals that, taken together, they are petitioner Katherene; that one of the loose-change
present petition, the reasons of DOJ for affirming enough to excite the belief, in a reasonable mind, deposits was transacted via the phone banking
the dismissal of the criminal complaints for estafa that the Spouses Bernyl Balangauan and Katherene feature of respondent HSBC and that when traced,
and/or qualified estafa are determinative of whether Balangauan are guilty of the crime complained of. the phone number used was the landline number of
or not it committed grave abuse of discretion Whether or not they will be convicted by a trial the house of petitioners Bernyl and Katherene; that
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. In court based on the same evidence is not a respondent HSBC’s bank personnel, as well as York,
requiring “hard facts and solid evidence” as the consideration. It is enough that acts or omissions supposedly a) talked with petitioner Katherene on
basis for a finding of probable cause to hold complained of by respondent HSBC constitute the the phone, and that she allegedly admitted that the
petitioners Bernyl and Katherene liable to stand trial crime of estafa and/or qualified estafa. missing funds were invested with Shell Company, of
for the crime complained of, the DOJ disregards the which York approved, and that it was only for one
definition of probable cause – that it is a reasonable Collectively, the photographs of petitioner year; and b) met with petitioner Bernyl, and that the
ground of presumption that a matter is, or may be, Katherene leaving the premises of respondent HSBC latter at first denied having knowledge of his wife’s
well-founded, such a state of facts in the mind of carrying a bulky plastic bag and the affidavits of complicity, but later on admitted that he knew of
the prosecutor as would lead a person of ordinary respondent HSBC’s witnesses sufficiently establish the investment with Shell Company, and that he
caution and prudence to believe, or entertain an acts adequate to constitute the crime of estafa supposedly made the loose-change deposit via
honest or strong suspicion, that a thing is so.[46] and/or qualified estafa. What the affidavits bear out phone banking; that after 23 April 2002, York was
The term does not mean “actual and positive are the following: that York was a Premier Client of told that respondent HSBC had no “new product” or
cause” nor does it import absolute certainty.[47] It respondent HSBC; that petitioner Katherene that it was promoting investment with Shell
is merely based on opinion and reasonable belief; handled all the accounts of York; that not one of Company; that York denied having any knowledge
[48] that is, the belief that the act or omission York’s accounts reflect the P2,500,000.00 allegedly that his money was invested outside of respondent
complained of constitutes the offense charged. deposited in a higher yielding account; that prior to HSBC; and that petitioner Katherene would not have
While probable cause demands more than “bare the discovery of her alleged acts and omissions, been able to facilitate the alleged acts or omissions
suspicion,” it requires “less than evidence which petitioner Katherene supposedly persuaded York to without taking advantage of her position or office,
would justify conviction.” Herein, the DOJ reasoned invest in a “new product” of respondent HSBC, i.e., as a consequence of which, HSBC had to reimburse
as if no evidence was actually presented by a higher interest yielding time deposit; that York York the missing P2,500,000.00.
16

hereby dismiss the instant petition for being the her lounge the judge’s chamber in violation of his
From the above, the alleged circumstances wrong remedy under the Revised Rules of Court, as duty under Rule 2.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct
of the case at bar make up the elements of abuse of well as for petitioner Bernyl and Katherene’s failure to maintain proper decorum. On many occasions,
confidence, deceit or fraudulent means, and to sufficiently show that the challenged Decision even when there is a hearing, his girlfriend stays in
damage under Art. 315 of the Revised Penal Code and Resolution of the Court of Appeals were the chamber, hindering the full performance of
on estafa and/or qualified estafa. They give rise to rendered in grave abuse of discretion amounting to respondent’s duties as he has to attend to her
the presumption or reasonable belief that the lack or excess of jurisdiction. whims and caprices, plus the fact that his girlfriend
offense of estafa has been committed; and, thus, WHEREFORE, premises considered, the is just cooling herself in the air-conditioned room
the filing of an Information against petitioners instant Petition for Certiorari is DISMISSED for lack while litigants have to bear the cramped hot space
Bernyl and Katherene is warranted. That of merit. The 28 April 2006 Decision and the 29 of the courtroom. This act also invites suspicion
respondent HSBC is supposed to have no June 2006 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA- since her mere presence therein is an indication of
personality to file any criminal complaint against G.R. CEB- SP No. 00068, are hereby AFFIRMED. who to talk to regarding a case. Following the case
petitioners Bernyl and Katherene does not ipso With costs against petitioners -- Spouses Bernyl of Presado v. Genova,[1] the act of respondent
facto clear them of prima facie guilt. The same Balangauan and Katherene Balangauan. constitutes serious misconduct.
goes for their basic denial of the acts or omissions
complained of; or their attempt at shifting the doubt SO ORDERED. Manifest Bias and Partiality –
to the person of York; and their claim that witnesses ATTY. RODERICK M. SANTOS and ALEXANDER
of respondent HSBC are guilty of fabricating the ANDRES Respondent committed manifest bias and
whole scenario. These are matters of defense; their vs partiality when he allowed the filing of Criminal
validity needs to be tested in the crucible of a full- JUDGE LAURO BERNARDO, Municipal Trial Case No. 06-004 for Grave Coercion against the
blown trial. Lest it be forgotten, the presence or Court, Bocaue, Bulacan, complainants because it was his chance to get back
absence of the elements of the crime is evidentiary A.M. No. MTJ-07-1670 (Formerly OCA IPI No. at Atty. Santos against whom he is harboring a
in nature and is a matter of defense, the truth of 06-1822-MTJ) grudge after the latter moved for his inhibition in
which can best be passed upon after a full-blown July 23, 2008 Criminal Case Nos. 04-430 and 04-572.
trial on the merits. Litigation will prove petitioners DECISION
Bernyl and Katherene’s innocence if their defense AZCUNA, J.: Instead of conducting a preliminary
be true. This is an administrative case against investigation after the filing of the complaint to find
respondent MTC Judge Lauro Bernardo for his probable cause to hold complainants herein for trial,
In fine, the relaxation of procedural rules alleged impropriety, manifest bias and partiality, respondent immediately signed the criminal
may be allowed only when there are exceptional grave abuse of discretion, and gross ignorance of complaint upon its filing and ordered that the case
circumstances to justify the same. Try as we might, the law/procedure relative to Criminal Case No. 06- be set for “preliminary hearing” on January 12,
this Court cannot find grave abuse of discretion on 004 entitled “People of the Philippines v. Atty. 2006. His own branch clerk certified that the
the part of the Court of Appeals, when it reversed Roderick M. Santos and Boyet Andres.” “complainant and her witnesses only subscribed
and set aside the resolutions of the DOJ. There is their statement before the presiding judge.” Worse,
no showing that the appellate court acted in an On February 9, 2006, Atty. Roderick M. respondent allowed the criminal case to be filed
arbitrary and despotic manner, so patent or gross Santos and Alexander Andres filed a verified even if it is based on hearsay evidence, as the
as to amount to an evasion or unilateral refusal to Affidavit-Complaint charging respondent of: complainant therein, one Dr. Elida D. Yanga, was
perform its legally mandated duty. On the contrary, not in the place at the time the alleged offense
we find the assailed decision and resolution of the Impropriety – happened. From the documents gathered, the
Court of Appeals to be more in accordance with the undue haste by which respondent acted is very
evidence on record and relevant laws and Respondent is using government resources evident because the complaint-affidavit, the
jurisprudence than the resolutions of the DOJ. in the discharge of his functions for his personal criminal complaint, and the subpoena have the
Considering the allegations, issues and pleasure and convenience. Specifically, he allows common date of January 4, 2006. More so, the
arguments adduced and our disquisition above, we his girlfriend, a certain “Boots,” to stay and use as
17

subpoena was immediately served on complainants the worthless criminal case filed against him, atmosphere prevailing in the court’s chamber even
on January 5, 2006. respondent puts a sore obstacle to Atty. Santos’ in the alleged presence of his wife is “an
way of life that is truly an undeserved atmosphere of friendship, respect and decency.”
Grave Abuse of Discretion and Unfaithfulness to inconvenience. He related that he and his wife are regular
the Law – participants of Marriage Encounter prayer meetings
On April 11, 2006, respondent filed his as well as in the prayer assemblies conducted by
Respondent committed grave abuse of Comment arguing in the main that the charges the Couples for Christ. Respondent is an active
discretion when he did not conduct a preliminary against him are hearsay, without factual and legal member of the Rotary Club of Sta. Maria and
investigation in Crim. Case No. 06-004. Under basis, and are a malicious imputation upon his Knights of Columbus, Marian Council of Sta. Maria,
paragraph 2, Section 1, Rule 112 of the Revised person; and that the acts stated in the complaint Bulacan while his wife is a member of the Inner
Rules on Criminal Procedure (Rules),[2] preliminary were based solely on the bare allegations of the Wheel Club of the Philippines. As members, they
investigation is required to be conducted before the complainants as no corroborative statements of are active participants in the clubs’ community
filing of a complaint or information for offenses witnesses were presented to prove the same. In projects and other civic activities. On top of these,
where the penalty prescribed by law is at least four contradicting complainants’ representation, he respondent judge presented Resolution No. 06-03-
years, two months and one day. The maximum stated thus: 025, dated 20 March 2006, of the Sangguniang
imposable penalty for Grave Coercion is six years Bayan of Bocaue, Bulacan signifying its “unilateral
imprisonment; hence, complainants should have As to the charge of Impropriety: decree of support and commendation to
been accorded the right to preliminary investigation [respondent] in recognition of his long years of
whereby they could have demonstrated that the “Boots” (whose maiden name was Ma. commendable and meritorious service in the
complaint is worthless. Respondent, however, Rosario M. Layuga) is now respondent’s lawful wife, dispensation of justice” and the Certificate of
chose to be ignorant of the basic provisions of the as proven by a marriage certificate showing their Commendation, dated 30 March 2006, issued by the
Rules in order to exact revenge and cause them to civil union before a Caloocan City Regional Trial Mayor of the Municipality of Bocaue.
unduly stand trial. Despite the Motion to Quash Court (RTC) judge on March 14, 2006. There was no
Complaint with Prayer for Voluntary Inhibition filed occasion or intention on his part to make the As to the charge of Manifest Bias and
by complainants to give him a chance to correct his judge’s chamber a residential or dwelling place. Partiality:
error by at least referring the case to the Office of Instead, his wife’s presence is “actually dictated by
the Provincial Prosecutor of Bulacan for the conduct a moral duty in the exercise of marital Complainants interpreted that when
of the requisite preliminary investigation, he responsibility” since he has been allergic to some respondent signed the criminal complaint as well as
remained adamant by issuing an order referring the foods, particularly fish and some beans. In fact, last subscribed the affidavits of the witnesses under
case instead to the Executive Judge of Bulacan for October 2005, after eating fish, respondent nearly oath he already made a finding of probable cause.
its raffle to another MTC judge. This act showed lost his life due to a severe allergy had it not been This is not correct because his signature was only
respondent’s deliberate intent to make the for the timely medical intervention administered at for the purpose of administering an oath, as
complainants accused persons in a criminal case. a nearby hospital. Aside from this, he is suffering evidenced by the certification issued by the clerk of
from irregular heartbeat which causes constant rise court. The fact is that the criminal case did not
By allowing the immediate filing of a of his blood pressure and uric acid. Also, his wife is reach the stage of preliminary investigation since
patently unmeritorious case, respondent tainted not merely present in the chamber since, while in complainants filed a Motion for Inhibition which was
Atty. Santos’ good reputation: he is a law there, she is also attending to some activities. readily granted. Respondent conducted the court
practitioner with companies in Makati, Pasig and Being self-employed and with extensive exposure proceedings in accordance with the provisions of
Manila as clients; he is a businessman and was also to trading, she administers the family property the Rules, particularly Sections 3 (a) and 8 (b) of
a former chairman of the board and current board consisting of leased premises and landholdings in Rule 112.[3]
director of St. Martin of Tours Credit and Pandi, Bulacan.
Development Cooperative, the largest credit As to the charge of Grave Abuse of
cooperative in Region III; and he is a frequent Respondent’s relation to his wife is “serious, Discretion and Unfaithfulness to the Law:
traveler, going abroad at least once a year. With open and known to the public” and that the
18

Admittedly, preliminary investigation must In order for liability to attach for ignorance of is contrary to the provision of Sec. 3 (a), Rule 112 of
be conducted before the filing of a complaint or the law, the assailed order, decision or actuation of the Rules which states that only the affidavits must
information for an offense where the penalty the judge in the performance of official duties must be subscribed and sworn to, a rule that respondent
prescribed by law is at least four years, two months not only be found erroneous but most importantly it must follow when he is to conduct his investigatory
and one day without regard to fine. In the case of must be established that he was moved by bad functions under Sec. 3 or Sec. 9 (b), Rule 112.[4]
Grave Coercion, however, there is no need for a faith, dishonesty or some other like motive. In this Complainants also dismissed respondent’s
preliminary investigation since prision correccional case, respondent has nothing to gain, material or reasoning that his actuation was based on Sec. 3 (a)
(six months and one day to six years), which is the otherwise, from the outcome of the criminal action; and Sec. 9 (b), Rule 112 because, as proven by the
imposable penalty for said crime, does not fall he met the parties only during the proceedings in absence of any transcript of stenographic notes
within the required penalty of prision correccional court, not before its filing, and he inhibited himself (TSN), the latter did not conduct searching
maximum (four years, two months and one day). promptly from the case. Atty. Santos instead is the questions and answers to Dr. Yanga and her
The criminal case against complainants should one who has animosity to respondent; he must witnesses. He has to explain, therefore, why he
proceed in accordance with Section 8 (b) of Rule realize and understand that what he (respondent) admitted a complaint based on hearsay evidence
112. had done is just all in a day’s work and nothing since the person who was not the object of the
personal about it. alleged coercive acts is the one who is the offended
When respondent issued a subpoena setting party in the criminal case.
the case for preliminary hearing it was taken as a In their Reply, the complainants argued that Complainants insisted that since the
measure of “damage control.” Knowing that a aside from converting the judge’s chamber into a maximum penalty imposable for the offense of
member of the Bar is being charged before the “nursing home” or “convalescent center” what is Grave Coercion is six years, a preliminary
court, it might have afforded the parties the chance more troubling is respondent’s own admission that investigation should have been held. Moreover,
to thresh out their differences and possibly settle his wife’s activities therein are not limited to the they maintained that Rule 112 is a complete
amicably. Likewise, his order to forward the case to “[care] for the sick” but also to her involvement in procedure in itself; hence, as stated in Sec. 9 (b), it
the Office of the Executive Judge was but a result of trading, which is highly irregular and improper since is the duty of respondent to dismiss the complaint
his voluntary inhibition from the case, which he had they are being conducted within the court’s or find probable cause within ten (10) days from its
chosen to definitely rule upon instead of further premises. As regards the commendations received filing and not to call for a “preliminary hearing,”
quashing the criminal complaint since the Motion by respondent, the complainants stated that it is which is a non-existent procedure in the Rules.
filed by complainants prayed respondent to resolve most likely that everybody working in the Municipal
two “judiciously irreconcilable” issues. Government of Bocaue got an award because it was Lastly, Atty. Santos denied that he was the
given during its 400th foundation day; that the “pro- one who has hard feelings against respondent.
As a background, the enmity between forma” certificates do not show whether he Instead, he claimed that it is a matter of record, in
respondent and Atty. Santos started in Criminal deserves it or not; and in any event, these awards the Order resolving the Motion for Voluntary
Case Nos. 04-430 and 04-572 wherein the latter are totally irrelevant to the case. Incidentally, Inhibition in Crim. Case Nos. 04-430 and 04-572,
appeared as private prosecutor in Criminal Case No. complainants also mentioned that court sessions in that the latter branded him as somebody he could
04-430 for Reckless Imprudence Resulting to Bocaue usually start late almost at 2:00 p.m. or not “co-exist with … in the quest for a just and
Damage to Property. The accused in said case later later, instead of 1:30 p.m. equitable administration of justice.” Atty. Santos
on filed a similar case (docketed as Criminal Case alleged that respondent even furnished the
No. 04-572) against Atty. Santos’ client. Likewise, complainants commented on the Executive Judge of Bulacan with a copy of the Order
Respondent found probable cause in both cases. “disturbing procedure” followed by respondent, to broadcast that he is a difficult lawyer to deal
Atty. Santos questioned this ruling but, on appeal, which is, allowing the criminal complaint to be with. He emphasized that this administrative
the RTC sustained the findings. Atty. Santos did not immediately entered in the criminal docket (thus, complaint is not about his client in Crim. Case No.
elevate the matter to the appellate court until the converting it to a criminal case by a mere stroke of 04-572 but is concerned with the injustice
decision became final. the clerk of court’s pen) and signing the criminal committed by respondent when he willingly and
complaint aside from the affidavit-complaint without deliberately violated established rules and legal
first finding probable case. This, according to them, doctrines just so complainants would suffer undue
19

injury by being tried for a fabricated case of Grave judge is authorized to just personally evaluate the with the MeTC was
Coercion. evidence before him to find probable cause instead arbitrary detention
of personally examining in writing and under oath under Article 124,
Parrying the supplementary allegations, on the complainant and his witnesses in the form of paragraph 1 of the
the other hand, respondent countered in his searching questions and answers. Finally, Revised Penal Code
Rejoinder that it is unfair for complainants to respondent firmly held on to his position that Grave punishable by arresto
conclude, much more insinuate, that his wife has Coercion is not one of the crimes requiring mayor in its maximum
something to do with any impropriety by her mere preliminary investigation since the minimum period to prision
presence in the chamber. He reiterated that her penalty imposable for said offense is six months correccional in its
company is necessitated by his health condition and and one day. minimum period, which
that, anyway, she also has her own business to has a range of four
attend to – that of managing the family inheritance On February 20, 2007, the Office of the months and one day to
of leased premises in the nearby town of Pandi, Court Administrator (OCA) found respondent two years and four
Bulacan, and actively engaging herself in an administratively liable for gross ignorance of the months. Whether or
independent business concern, held not in MTC- law, and recommended the imposition of a fine in not there is a need
Bocaue, which is the large-scale trading of electric the amount of P20,000 considering this is his first for a preliminary
transformers, metal scraps and heavy equipment time to be sanctioned for a serious charge. In its investigation under
entrusted to her by her uncles and close relatives. Report, the OCA stated: Section 1 in relation
As to the charge of frequent delay of court to Section 9 [now
sessions, respondent stated that he has been Whether of not there is a need Section 8] of Rule
always present and ready to begin the proceedings for preliminary investigation under 112 of the Revised
but it is the desire of most lawyers to start at 2:00 Section 1 in relation to Section 9 of Rules of Criminal
p.m., more or less, because most of them, including Rule 112 of the Revised Rules on Procedure depends
the public prosecutor and the PAO lawyer, come Criminal Procedure depends upon the upon the imposable
from RTC hearings and even all the way from maximum imposable penalty for the penalty for the crime
Malolos City. To compensate for the lost time, crime charged in the complaint filed charged in the
however, he averred that court sessions adjourn with the City Prosecutor’s Office and complaint filed with
even up to 6:30 p.m. so that all cases may be not upon the imposable penalty for the City or Provincial
accommodated. the crime found to have been Prosecutor’s Office
committed by respondent. and not upon the
Respondent clarified that when he signed imposable penalty
the affidavits of Dr. Yanga and her witnesses it was In San Agustin v. People, the Court for the crime found
only for the purpose of administering the oath of held: to have been
the person filing the criminal complaint. He posited committed by the
that the proper rule that must be applied is not Sec. “However, we do respondent after a
3 (a), Rule 112, which refers to the procedure in not agree with the preliminary
preliminary investigation, but Sec. 3, Rule 110[5] on ruling of the Court of investigation. In this
the institution of criminal actions providing that the Appeals that there was case, the crime
complaint must be subscribed by the offended no need for the City charged in the
party, any peace officer, or other public officer Prosecutor to conduct a complaint of the NBI
charged with the enforcement of the law violated. preliminary filed in the Department
Further, while respondent conceded that there was investigation since the of Justice was
really no TSN available because no hearing was crime charged under kidnapping/serious
held he asserted that under Sec. 9 (b) of Rule 112 a the Information filed illegal detention, the
20

imposable penalty for inferior court so that There is no merit in respondent’s supposition
which is reclusion preliminary that Grave Coercion is an offense not subject to
perpetua to death.” investigation may be preliminary investigation because the minimum
conducted.” penalty imposable for the said offense, which is six
The maximum imposable The issue raised by months and one day, falls short of the minimum
penalty for grave coercion is six years complainant does not pertain to an penalty of four years, two months and one day
imprisonment and such entitled the error of judgment or to one pertaining required by the Rules. The OCA correctly applied
accused to their right to a preliminary to the exercise of sound discretion by San Agustin v. People.[6] Certainly, the need for a
investigation to save them from the respondent. Rather, the issue is preliminary investigation under Sec. 1 in relation to
rigors of trials in case no probable whether respondent complied with Sec. 8 of Rule 112 of the Rules depends upon the
cause exists to warrant the filing of the procedural rules so elementary imposable penalty for the crime charged in
the criminal complaint or information that to digress from them amounts to the complaint or information filed and not upon
against them. ignorance of the law. Since the rules the imposable penalty for the offense which may be
on preliminary investigation are basic found to have been committed by the accused after
Respondent Judge should and clearly expressed in the Revised a preliminary investigation. In the case of Grave
have remanded the case to the public Rules of Criminal Procedure, Coercion, the Revised Penal Code provides a
prosecutor for the purposes of respondent’s actuation in denying the penalty of prision correccional or anywhere between
preliminary investigation. [The same is deemed to have been six months and one day to six years; thus, a
Supreme] Court in a catena of cases attended by gross ignorance of the preliminary investigation must still be held since
held: law and procedure. there is a possibility that the complainants would
stand to suffer the maximum penalty imposable for
“The absence of [The Supreme] Court has the offense. The purpose of a preliminary
preliminary consistently held that lack of investigation is to protect the innocent from hasty,
investigation does not conversance with legal principles malicious and oppressive prosecutions, from an
affect the court’s sufficiently basic and elementary unnecessary open and public accusation of a crime,
jurisdiction over the constitutes gross ignorance of the and from the trouble, expense and anxiety of a
case. Nor do they law. As an advocate of justice and a trial. It also protects the State from a useless and
impair the validity of visible representation of the law, a expensive litigation. Above all, it is a part of the
the information or judge is expected to be proficient in guarantees of freedom and fair play.[7]
otherwise render it the interpretation of our laws.
defective, but if there Notably, however, by the time the criminal
were no preliminary Respondent clearly strayed complaint of Dr. Yanga against herein complainants
investigation and the from the well-trodden path when he was filed on January 3, 2006, respondent was
defendants, before grossly misapplied the Revised Rules already without authority to conduct preliminary
entering their plea, of Criminal Procedure. (Citations investigation since effective October 3, 2005,
invite the attention of omitted) judges of Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal
the court to their Circuit Trial Courts are no longer authorized to
absence, the court As regards the other charges, the OCA conduct the same, pursuant to A.M. No. 05-8-26-SC
instead of dismissing dismissed them for complainants’ failure to adduce (Re: Amendment of Rules 112 and 114 of the
the information, should sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations. Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure by Removing
conduct such the Conduct of Preliminary Investigation from
investigation, order the The Report and Recommendation of the OCA Judges of the First Level Courts).[8] The appropriate
fiscal to conduct it or are sustained. action of respondent, therefore, should have been
remand the case to the to immediately refer the complaint to the Office of
21

the Provincial Prosecutor of Bulacan so that a exposing judicial records to danger of amount of P20,000, with a STERN WARNING that a
preliminary investigation could proceed with loss or damage. repetition of the same or similar act in the future
reasonable dispatch. His issuance of a subpoena shall be dealt with more severely.
directing complainants to appear before the court 2. A.C. No. 01-99 (Enhancing
on January 12, 2006 for a “preliminary hearing,” the Dignity of Courts as Temples of Let a copy of this Decision be attached to
although the hearing did not materialize after his Justice and Promoting Respect for their the personnel record of respondent in the Office of
voluntary inhibition from the case on January 10, Official and Employees)[10] – the Administrative Services, Office of the Court
2006, was definitely out of order. At this point, it is Considering the courts as temples of Administrator.
clear that respondent committed gross ignorance of justice, their dignity and sanctity must,
an existing procedure which is basic and at all times, be preserved and SO ORDERED.
elementary. enhanced. In inspiring public respect
for the justice system, court officials
Meanwhile, as to the impropriety purportedly and employees are directed, among
committed by respondent in his own chamber, the others, never to use their offices as a
OCA rightly found that complainants failed to residence or for any other purpose than
provide specific details that would validate any for court or judicial functions.
misuse or abuse of government funds and/or
facilities. Nonetheless, it is opportune to remind 3. A.C. No. 09-99 (Banning
respondent as well as other trial court judges, who Smoking and Selling of Goods within
are the “front-liners” in the promotion of the Court Houses and Offices)[11] –
people's faith in the judiciary, of the directives Conformably with A.C. No. 01-99, this
embodied in the following administrative circulars: circular disallowed, among others,
within court houses and, more
specifically, session halls and offices of
1. Administrative Circular court officials and personnel, the selling
(A.C.) No. 3-92 (Prohibition against of goods of any kind, especially by
Use of Halls of Justice for Residential or persons who are not court employees.
Commercial Purposes)[9] – All judges
and court personnel are reminded that In fine, as the New Code of Judicial Conduct
the Halls of Justice may be used only for the Philippine Judiciary[12] mandates, judges
for purposes directly related to the should avoid impropriety and the appearance of
functioning and operation of the courts impropriety in all of their activities. They should not
of justice, and may not be devoted to use or lend the prestige of the judicial office to WINSTON MENDOZA and FE MICLAT,
any other use, least of all as residential advance their private interests, or those of a vs.
quarters of the judges or court member of their family or of anyone else, nor shall FERNANDO ALARMA and FAUSTA ALARMA,
personnel, or for carrying on therein they convey or permit others to convey the G.R. No. 151970
any trade or profession. Attention is impression that anyone is in a special position May 7, 2008
drawn to this Court’s ruling in A.M. No. improperly to influence them in the performance of
RTJ-89-327 (Nellie Kelly Austria v. Judge judicial duties.[13] DECISION
Singuat Guerra) whereby we declared CARPIO, J.:
that the use of the court’s premises WHEREFORE, respondent Judge LAURO The Case
inevitably degrades the honor and BERNARDO, MTC, Bocaue, Bulacan, is found Before the Court is a petition for review on
dignity of the court in addition to GUILTY of gross ignorance of the law and basic certiorari1 assailing the Decision2 dated 9 July 2001
rules of procedure and is hereby FINED in the
22

and Resolution3 dated 30 January 2002 of the Court Mendoza, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al." In a buyers in good faith, they must be protected by the
of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 58139. Resolution dated 18 March 1992, this Court denied law.
The Facts the petition and ruled with finality that the assailed Respondents, on the other hand, maintain that the
Spouses Fernando and Fausta Alarma (respondents) 14 April 1986 Order was not a judgment on the basis for the acquisition of the land and the
are the owners of an 11.7 hectare parcel of land bond.7 issuance of title over it had already been declared
(land) located in Iba, Zambales. The land, identified Meanwhile, petitioners applied for the registration void by this Court in G.R. No. 101103. Thus,
as Cadastral Lot No. 2087 of Iba Cadastre, was of the land with the Regional Trial Court of Iba, petitioners cannot now claim good faith. With no
posted as a property bond for the provisional liberty Zambales, Branch 70.8 On 9 September 1987, the valid title to the land, petitioners must reconvey the
of a certain Joselito Mayo, charged with illegal trial court granted the registration and issued land to respondents.
possession of firearms in Criminal Case No. 1417-I, Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. O-7249 in the The Court’s Ruling
entitled "People of the Philippines v. Gregorio name of petitioners. The petition lacks merit.
Cayan, et al." The Trial Court’s Ruling Section 21, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules on
When the accused failed to appear in court as Respondents then filed an action for the annulment Criminal Procedure states:
directed on 19 March 1984, the trial court ordered of title and reconveyance of ownership of the land SEC. 21. — Forfeiture of bail. When the
his arrest and the confiscation of his bail bond in covered by OCT No. O-7249 with the Regional Trial presence of the accused is required by the
favor of the government. It also directed the Court of Iba, Zambales, Branch 71.9 On 24 court or these Rules, his bondsmen shall be
bondsmen to produce within a period of 30 days the September 1997, the trial court dismissed the notified to produce him before the court on a
person of the accused and to show cause why action contending that it had no jurisdiction to annul given date and time. If the accused fails to
judgment should not be entered against the bail the judgment rendered by the Regional Trial Court appear in person as required, his bail shall
bond. However, without a judgment being rendered of Iba, Zambales, Branch 70, a co-equal court.10 The be declared forfeited and the bondsmen
against the bondsmen, the trial court issued a writ trial court declared further that since the issue of given thirty (30) days within which to
of execution against the land in an Order dated 14 the case was the validity of OCT No. O-7249, the produce their principal and to show cause
April 1986.4 The land was eventually sold at public case should have been filed with the Court of why no judgment should be rendered
auction and petitioners Winston Mendoza and Fe Appeals which has exclusive original jurisdiction against them for the amount of their bail.
Miclat emerged as the highest bidders. Thus, the over annulment of judgments of a Regional Trial Within the said period, the bondsmen must:
land was awarded to petitioners and they Court. (a) produce the body of their principal
immediately took possession of the same. The Ruling of the Court of Appeals or give the reason for his non-
Sometime thereafter, respondents filed a complaint Respondents filed an appeal with the Court of production; and
for recovery of property against petitioners with the Appeals which reversed the findings of the trial (b) explain why the accused did not
Regional Trial Court of Iba, Zambales, Branch 70,5 court and annulled OCT No. O-7249.11 The appellate appear before the court when first
grounded on the nullity of the entire proceedings court also ordered that a new title over the property required to do so.
relating to the property bond. During the pre-trial be issued in the name of respondents. Petitioners Failing in these two requisites, a judgment
conducted on 3 May 1988, the parties agreed that filed a Motion for Reconsideration which the shall be rendered against the bondsmen,
the property would be placed in the possession of appellate court denied in a Resolution dated 30 jointly and severally, for the amount of the
respondents. On 2 August 1989, the court rendered January 2002. bail. The court shall not reduce or otherwise
its decision dismissing the complaint and declaring Hence, this petition. mitigate the liability of the bondsmen, unless
that the Order dated 14 April 1986 was a judgment The Issue the accused has been surrendered or is
on the bond. The sole issue for our resolution is whether the acquitted.
On appeal, the appellate court reversed the Court of Appeals erred in finding a defect in the The provision clearly provides for the procedure to
decision of the trial court and nullified the proceedings and in ordering the annulment of OCT be followed before a bail bond may be forfeited and
proceedings on the execution, sale, and issuance of No. O-7249. a judgment on the bond rendered against the
the writ of possession.6 Thereafter, petitioners filed Petitioners contend that even if the execution surety. In Reliance Surety & Insurance Co., Inc. v.
a petition for review on certiorari with this Court, proceedings were nullified, they were not privy to Amante, Jr.,12 we outlined the two occasions upon
docketed as G.R. No. 101103 and entitled "Winston the irregularities of the auction sale. Thus, as which the trial court judge may rule adversely
23

against the bondsmen in cases when the accused judgment on the bond which is issued if the accused
fails to appear in court. First, the non-appearance was not produced within the 30-day period. The Petitioners filed this case assailing the Decision1 of
by the accused is cause for the judge to summarily judgment on the bond is the one that ultimately the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CEB SP No. 00397
declare the bond as forfeited. Second, the determines the liability of the surety, and when it dated 17 August 2006 which affirmed the Orders2
bondsmen, after the summary forfeiture of the becomes final, execution may issue at once.15 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu City,
bond, are given 30 days within which to produce the However, in this case, no such judgment was ever Branch 19 restraining Branches 2 and 5 of the
principal and to show cause why a judgment should issued and neither has an amount been fixed for Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) of Cebu City
not be rendered against them for the amount of the which the bondsmen may be held liable. The law from proceeding with the criminal cases for
bond. It is only after this 30-day period, during was not strictly observed and this violated violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 (B.P. Blg. 22)
which the bondsmen are afforded the opportunity to respondents’ right to procedural due process. filed against respondent Purita Suarez.
be heard by the trial court, that the trial court may In addition, we find that the issue of good faith in
render a judgment on the bond against the buying the property at the auction sale is no longer The facts of the case follow.
bondsmen. Judgment against the bondsmen cannot material. This Court in a previous case had already
be entered unless such judgment is preceded by ruled upon the invalidity of the execution and sale Respondents, spouses Laureano and Purita Suarez,
the order of forfeiture and an opportunity given to of the land. As a result, the basis for which title to had availed of petitioner Carolina Jose’s (Carolina)
the bondsmen to produce the accused or to adduce the land had been issued has no more leg to stand offer to lend money at the daily interest rate of 1%
satisfactory reason for their inability to do so.13 on. The appellate court, therefore, was correct in to 2%. However, Carolina and her husband,
In the present case, it is undisputed that the ordering the annulment of the title to the land as a petitioner Reynaldo Jose, later on increased the
accused failed to appear in person before the court matter of course. There being no valid title nor any interest to 5% per day, which respondents were
and that the trial court declared his bail forfeited. right to possess the land, reconveyance to the forced to accept because they allegedly had no
The trial court gave the bondsmen, respondents in respondents is only proper under the other option left. It then became a practice that
this case, a 30-day period to produce the accused circumstances. petitioners would give the loaned money to Purita
or a reasonable explanation for their non- WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM and the latter would deposit the same in her and
production. However, two years had passed from the 9 July 2001 Decision and 30 January 2002 her husband’s account to cover the maturing
the time the court ordered the forfeiture and still no Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. postdated checks they had previously issued in
judgment had been rendered against the bondsmen 58139. payment of their other loans. Purita would then
for the amount of the bail. Instead, an order of SO ORDERED. issue checks in favor of petitioners in payment of
execution was issued and the property was put up the amount borrowed from them with the agreed
for sale and awarded to petitioners, the highest 5% daily interest.
bidders.
These turn of events distinctly show that there was On 7 May 2004, respondents filed a Complaint3
a failure of due process of law. The execution was against petitioners seeking the declaration of
issued, not on a judgment, because there was none, "nullity of interest of 5% per day, fixing of interest,
but simply and solely on the declaration of recovery of interest payments"4 and the issuance of
forfeiture. a writ of preliminary injunction, alleging that the
An order of forfeiture of the bail bond is conditional interest rate of 5% a day is iniquitous, contrary to
and interlocutory, there being something more to SPS. CAROLINA and REYNALDO JOSE, morals, done under vitiated consent and imposed
be done such as the production of the accused vs. using undue influence by taking improper
within 30 days. This process is also called SPS. LAUREANO and PURITA SUAREZ advantage of their financial distress. They claimed
confiscation of bond. In People v. Dizon,14 we held G.R. No. 176795 June 30, 2008 that due to serious liquidity problems, they were
that an order of forfeiture is interlocutory and forced to rely on borrowings from banks and
merely requires appellant "to show cause why DECISION individual lenders, including petitioners, and that
judgment should not be rendered against it for the they had to scramble for funds to cover the
amount of the bond." Such order is different from a TINGA, J.: maturing postdated checks they issued to cover
24

their other borrowings. In their prayer, respondents that respondents had sought to annul the checks for respondents have no clear and unmistakable right
stated: being void pursuant to Article 1422 of the Civil Code to its issuance.14
which provides that "a contract which is the direct
WHEREFORE, it is prayed that upon the filing of the result of a previous illegal contract, is also void and Respondents, for their part, state that the possibility
instant case and in accordance with the 1997 Rules inexistent." Accordingly, the appellate court of a ruling in the civil case to the effect that the
on Civil Procedure[,] a writ of preliminary injunction concluded that if the checks subject of the criminal subject checks are contra bonos mores and hence
or at least a temporary restraining order be issued cases were later on declared null and void, then null and void constitutes a prejudicial question in
restraining defendant from enforcing the checks as said checks could not be made the bases of criminal the B.P. Blg. 22 cases. Thus, proceeding with the
listed in Annex "E" including the filing of criminal prosecutions under B.P. Blg. 22. In other words, the trial in the criminal cases without awaiting the
cases for violation of B.P. [Blg.] 22 and restraining outcome of the determination of the validity of the outcome of the civil case is fraught with
defendants from entering plaintiffs’ store and said checks is determinative of guilt or innocence of mischievous consequences.15 They cite the case of
premises to get cash sales and other items against Purita in the criminal case.12 Medel v. Court of Appeals,16 wherein the Court
plaintiffs will [sic] under such terms and conditions nullified the interest rate of 5.5% per month for
as this Court may affix.5 The appellate court also observed that respondents’ being contra bonos mores under Article 1306 of the
resort to an application for preliminary injunction Civil Code, and recomputed the interest due at the
Thereafter, at the instance of Carolina, several could not be considered as forum shopping since it rate of 1% per month.17 Thus, if their loans are
cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 226 were filed against is the only remedy available to them considering computed at 1% per month, it would mean that the
respondent Purita before the MTCC of Cebu City, the express proscription of filing a petition for checks subject of the B.P. Blg. 22 cases are not only
Branches 2 and 5. Purita, in turn filed motions to certiorari against interlocutory orders issued in fully paid but are also in fact overpaid. They also
suspend the criminal proceedings on the ground of cases under B.P. Blg. 22 which are governed by the invoke the case of Danao v. Court of Appeals18
prejudicial question, on the theory that the checks rules on summary procedure.13 wherein the Court allegedly ruled that there is no
subject of the B.P. Blg. 22 cases are void for being violation of B.P. Blg. 22 if the dishonored checks
contra bonos mores or for having been issued in Before us, petitioners submit that because under have been paid.19 They claim that since the 5%
payment of the iniquitous and unconscionable Section 6, Rule 111 of the Rules on Criminal interest per day was not contained in any written
interest imposed by petitioners. The motions were Procedure a petition to suspend proceedings on the agreement, per Article 195620 of the Civil Code,
denied.7 ground of prejudicial question should be filed in the petitioners are bound to return the total interest
same criminal action, the RTC has no jurisdiction to they collected from respondents. Respondents point
Respondents thereafter filed before the RTC a issue the writ of preliminary injunction as it is not out that they incorporated in their complaint an
"Motion for Writ of Preliminary Injunction with the court where the B.P. Blg. 22 cases were filed. application for preliminary injunction and temporary
Temporary Restraining Order"8 seeking to restrain Moreover, they argue that respondents are guilty of restraining order to restrain Carolina from enforcing
the MTCCs from further proceeding with the B.P. forum shopping because after the denial of their the interest and from filing criminal cases for
Blg. 22 cases on the ground of prejudicial question. motion to suspend the proceedings before Branches violation of B.P. Blg. 22. Quoting the RTC,
Petitioners opposed the motion. Nevertheless, the 2 and 5 of the MTCC, they resorted to the filing of a respondents explain:
RTC through its 20 December 2004 Order9 issued a motion for preliminary injunction before the RTC
writ of preliminary injunction, thereby enjoining the also on the ground of prejudicial question; Since there was no proof at that time that plaintiff
MTCCs from proceeding with the cases against therefore, they succeeded in getting the relief in sustain or are about to sustain damages or
Purita. Petitioners sought reconsideration of the one forum (RTC) which they had failed to obtain in prejudice if the acts complained of are not enjoined,
order but their motion was denied due course in the the first forum (MTCCs). Likewise, petitioners claim the application was not acted upon by the Court.
RTC’s 3 February 2005 Order.10 that the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the When the attention of the Court was invited by the
civil case poses a prejudicial question to the B.P. plaintiffs of the refusal of the MTC, Branches 2 and
Petitioners elevated the case to the Court of Blg. 22 cases, thus resulting in the erroneous 5, to suspend the criminal proceedings despite
Appeals11 and questioned the propriety of the suspension of the proceedings the latter cases. being appraised of the pendency of this case, the
RTC’s issuance of a preliminary injunction based on Finally, petitioners posit that the RTC erred in Court has to act accordingly.21
a prejudicial question. The appellate court stated issuing the preliminary injunction because
25

Respondents maintain that they are not guilty of contra bonos mores, and thus the cases for B.P. Blg. Thus, whether or not the interest rate imposed by
forum shopping because after the denial by the 22 will no longer prosper. petitioners is eventually declared void for being
MTCCs of their motion to suspend proceedings, their contra bonos mores will not affect the outcome of
only available remedy was the filing of an The prejudicial question theory advanced by the B.P. Blg. 22 cases because what will ultimately
application for preliminary injunction in the existing respondents must fail. be penalized is the mere issuance of bouncing
civil case filed earlier than the B.P. Blg. 22 cases. In checks. In fact, the primordial question posed
any case, respondents argue that the rule on forum In the first place, the validity or invalidity of the before the court hearing the B.P. Blg. 22 cases is
shopping is not intended to deprive a party to a interest rate is not determinative of the guilt of whether the law has been breached, that is, if a
case of a legitimate remedy.22 Finally, they claim respondents in the criminal cases. The Court has bouncing check has been issued.
that the case falls under the exceptions to the rule consistently declared that the cause or reason for
that the prosecution of criminal cases may not be the issuance of a check is inconsequential in The issue has in fact been correctly addressed by
enjoined by a writ of injunction, considering that in determining criminal culpability under B.P. Blg. the MTCCs when respondents’ motion to suspend
this case there is a prejudicial question which is sub 22.25 In several instances, we have held that what the criminal proceedings was denied upon the
judice, and that there is persecution rather than the law punishes is the issuance of a bouncing finding that there exists no prejudicial question
prosecution.23 check and not the purpose for which it was issued which could be the basis for the suspension of the
or the terms and conditions relating to its issuance; proceedings. The reason for the denial of the
The case hinges on the determination of whether and that the mere act of issuing a worthless check motion is that the "cases can very well proceed for
there exists a prejudicial question which is malum prohibitum provided the other elements of the prosecution of the accused in order to
necessitates the suspension of the proceedings in the offense are properly proved.26 determine her criminal propensity … as a
the MTCCs. consequence of the issuance of several checks
The nature and policy of B.P. Blg. 22 were aptly which subsequently … bounced" for "what the law
We find that there is none and thus we resolve to enunciated by the Court in Meriz v. People,27 when punishes is the issuance and/or drawing of a check
grant the petition. it stated: and upon presentment for deposit or encashment, it
was dishonored due to insufficient funds [or]
A prejudicial question generally comes into play in a x x x. [B.P. Blg.] 22 does not appear to concern account closed." 29
situation where a civil action and a criminal action itself with what might actually be envisioned by the
are both pending and there exists in the former an parties, its primordial intention being to instead There being no prejudicial question, the RTC and,
issue which must be preemptively resolved before ensure the stability and commercial value of checks consequently, the Court of Appeals gravely erred
the latter may proceed, because howsoever the as being virtual substitutes for currency. It is a when they allowed the suspension of the
issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be policy that can easily be eroded if one has yet to proceedings in the B.P. Blg. 22 cases.
determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or determine the reason for which checks are issued,
innocence of the accused in the criminal case. The or the terms and conditions for their issuance, Now, on to other matters.
rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question before an appropriate application of the legislative
is to avoid two conflicting decisions. It has two enactment can be made. The gravamen of the We find that respondents are guilty of forum
essential elements: (i) the civil action involves an offense under [B.P. Blg.] 22 is the act of making or shopping. There is forum shopping when a party
issue similar or intimately related to the issue raised issuing a worthless check or a check that is seeks to obtain remedies in an action in one court,
in the criminal action; and (ii) the resolution of such dishonored upon presentment for payment. The act which had already been solicited, and in other
issue determines whether or not the criminal action effectively declares the offense to be one of malum courts and other proceedings in other tribunals.
may proceed.24 prohibitum. The only valid query then is whether Forum shopping is the act of one party against
the law has been breached, i.e., by the mere act of another, when an adverse judgment has been
Now the prejudicial question posed by respondents issuing a bad check, without so much regard as to rendered in one forum, of seeking another and
is simply this: whether the daily interest rate of 5% the criminal intent of the issuer.28 possibly favorable opinion in another forum other
is void, such that the checks issued by respondents than by appeal or by special civil action of
to cover said interest are likewise void for being certiorari; or the institution of two or more acts or
26

proceedings grounded on the same cause on the respondent in the estafa case. The instant case is was no declaration from the Court that such
supposition that one or the other court would make different from Ras inasmuch as the determination of payment exonerated accused from liability for
a favorable disposition.30 whether the 5% daily interest is contra bonos mores having issued bouncing checks. Instead, accused
and therefore void, or that the total amount loaned was acquitted due to insufficiency of evidence, and
Respondents filed their motions to suspend from petitioners has been sufficiently paid, will not not because she had paid the amount covered by
proceedings in the MTCCs hearing the B.P. Blg. 22 affect the guilt or innocence of Purita because the the dishonored checks36 or that the obligation was
cases but unfortunately, the same were denied. material question in the B.P. Blg. 22 cases is deemed paid.
Failing to get the relief they wanted, respondents whether Purita had issued a bad check, regardless
sought before the RTC, the suspension of the of the purpose or condition of its issuance. WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The
criminal proceedings which was granted. impugned Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 17
Respondents tried to extricate themselves from the Medel v. CA is the case upon which respondents August 2006 and its Resolution dated 27 February
charge of forum shopping by explaining that after anchor their claim that the interest due on their 2007, in CA-G.R. CEB-SP No. 00397, are SET ASIDE.
the denial of their motions to suspend, their only loans is only 1% per month and thus they have The preliminary injunction issued by the Regional
remedy was the application for preliminary already overpaid their obligation to petitioners. In Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 19 in its Order
injunction in the civil case—a relief which they had Medel, the Court declared that the rate of 5.5% dated 20 December 2004 in Civil Case No. CEB-
already asked for in their complaint and which was interest per month on a P500,000.00 loan is 30278 enjoining the proceedings in the criminal
also initially not granted to them. Any which way iniquitous, unconscionable and hence contrary to cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 is LIFTED AND SET
the situation is viewed, respondents’ acts morals, and must equitably be reduced to 12% per ASIDE and the MTCC of Cebu City, Branches 2 and 5
constituted forum shopping since they sought a annum. While the Medel case made a finding that are ORDERED to proceed with dispatch with the
possibly favorable opinion from one court after the stipulated interest rate is excessive and thus arraignment and trial in the B.P. Blg. 22 cases
another had issued an order unfavorable to them. may be equitably reduced by the courts, we do not pending before them.
see how a reduction of the interest rate, should
The Court notes that three cases, namely, Ras v. there be any, or a subsequent declaration that the SO ORDERED.
Rasul,31 Medel v. CA32 and Danao v. Court of amount due has been fully paid, will have an effect
Appeals33—finding no application to the instant on the determination of whether or not Purita had in
case—were mentioned by the RTC, the Court of fact issued bouncing checks.
Appeals and by respondents themselves in support
of their position. Meanwhile, respondents misunderstood our ruling in
Danao v. Court of Appeals, which they claim to have
Ras v. Rasul cropped up in the order of the RTC ruled that there could be no violation of B.P. Blg. 22
which was quoted with approval by the Court of if the dishonored checks have been paid. In Danao,
Appeals. According to the RTC, the ruling in the said the accused was convicted by the trial court for
case allegedly "can be squarely applied in this case having issued two checks which eventually
which nullified and set aside the conviction in a bounced. The Court found that there was no proof GALO MONGE
criminal case because of a prejudicial question."34 of receipt by the accused of any notice of vs.
We do not agree. The Ras case involves a petition nonpayment of the checks, and thus there was no PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
for nullification of a deed of sale on the ground of way of determining when the five-day period G.R. No. 170308
forgery. While the civil case was pending, an prescribed in Section 2 of B.P. Blg. 22 would start March 7, 2008
information for estafa was filed against the and end. Thus, the presumption or prima facie
respondent in the civil case. The Court ruled that evidence of knowledge of the insufficiency of funds RESOLUTION
there were prejudicial questions considering that or credit at the time of the issuance of the checks TINGA, J.:
the defense against the charge of forgery in the civil did not arise. While there was a finding that the This is a Petition for Review1 under Rule 45 of the
case is based on the very same facts which would accused had already paid her obligations prior to Rules of Court whereby petitioner Galo Monge
be determinative of the guilt or innocence of the receipt of the complainant’s demand letter,35 there (petitioner) assails the Decision2 of the Court of
27

Appeals dated 28 June 2005 which affirmed his eighteen (0.18) cubic meter with a total petitioner reiterates his challenge against the
conviction as well as the discharge of accused market value of P1,925.00, Philippine discharge of Potencio.
Edgar Potencio (Potencio) as a state witness. currency, to the damage and prejudice of The petition is utterly unmeritorious.
The factual antecedents follow. On 20 July 1994, the DENR in the aforesaid amount. Petitioner and Potencio were caught in flagrante
petitioner and Potencio were found by barangay CONTRARY TO LAW.10 delicto transporting, and thus in possession of,
tanods Serdan and Molina in possession of and At the 26 November 1996 arraignment, petitioner processed mahogany lumber without proper
transporting three (3) pieces of mahogany lumber entered a negative plea.11 authority from the DENR. Petitioner has never
in Barangay Santo Domingo, Iriga City. Right there Trial ensued. On 17 June 1997, Serdan testified on denied this fact. But in his attempt to exonerate
and then, the tanods demanded that they be shown the circumstances of the apprehension but for himself from liability, he claims that it was Potencio,
the requisite permit and/or authority from the failing to appear in court for cross examination, his the owner of the lumber, who requested his
Department of Environment and Natural Resources testimony was stricken out.12 On 16 January 1998, assistance in hauling the log down from the
(DENR) but neither petitioner nor Potencio was able Potencio was discharged to be used as a state mountain and in transporting the same to the
to produce any.3 Petitioner fled the scene in that witness on motion of the prosecutor. 13 Accordingly, sawmill for processing. The contention is unavailing.
instant whereas Potencio was brought to the police he testified on the circumstances of the arrest but Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended by E.O. No.
station for interrogation, and thereafter, to the claimed that for a promised fee he was merely 277, criminalizes two distinct and separate
DENR-Community Environment and Natural requested by petitioner, the owner of the log, to offenses, namely: (a) the cutting, gathering,
Resources Office (DENR-CENRO).4 The DENR-CENRO assist him in hauling the same down from the collecting and removing of timber or other forest
issued a seizure receipt for the three pieces of mountain. Potencio’s testimony was materially products from any forest land, or timber from
lumber indicating that the items, totaling 77 board corroborated by Molina.14 Petitioner did not contest alienable or disposable public land, or from private
feet of mahogany valued at P1,925.00, had been the allegations, except that it was not he but land without any authority; and (b) the possession
seized from Potencio.5 Later on, petitioner was Potencio who owned the lumber. He lamented that of timber or other forest products without the legal
arrested, but Potencio’s whereabouts had been contrary to what Potencio had stated in court, it was documents required under existing laws and
unknown since the time of the seizure6 until he the latter who hired him to bring the log from the regulations.19 DENR Administrative Order No. 59
surfaced on 3 January 1998.7 site to the sawmill where the same was to be sawn series of 1993 specifies the documents required for
An information was filed with the Regional Trial into pieces.15 the transport of timber and other forest products.
Court of Iriga City, Branch 35 charging petitioner The trial court found petitioner guilty as charged. Section 3 thereof materially requires that the
and Potencio with violation of Section 688 of Petitioner was imposed nine (9) years, four (4) transport of lumber be accompanied by a certificate
Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 705,9 as amended by months and one (1) day to ten (10) years and eight of lumber origin duly issued by the DENR-CENRO. In
Executive Order (E.O.) No. 277, series of 1997. The (8) months of prision mayor in its medium and the first offense, the legality of the acts of cutting,
inculpatory portion of the information reads: maximum periods and ordered to pay the costs.16 gathering, collecting or removing timber or other
That on or about the 20th day of [July 1994], Aggrieved, petitioner elevated the case to the Court forest products may be proven by the authorization
at about 9:30 o’clock in the morning, in of Appeals where he challenged the discharge of duly issued by the DENR. In the second offense,
Barangay Sto. Domingo, Iriga City, Potencio as a state witness on the ground that the however, it is immaterial whether or not the cutting,
Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this latter was not the least guilty of the offense and gathering, collecting and removal of forest products
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, that there was no absolute necessity for his are legal precisely because mere possession of
conspiring, confederating with each other, testimony.17 The appellate court dismissed this forest products without the requisite documents
without any authority of law, nor armed with challenge and affirmed the findings of the trial consummates the crime.20
necessary permit/license or other court. However, it modified the penalty to an It is thus clear that the fact of possession by
documents, with intent to gain, did then and indeterminate prison sentence of six (6) years of petitioner and Potencio of the subject mahogany
there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, prision correccional as minimum to ten (10) years lumber and their subsequent failure to produce the
transport and have in their possession three and eight (8) months of prision mayor as requisite legal documents, taken together, has
(3) pieces of Mahogany of assorted maximum.18 His motion for reconsideration was already given rise to criminal liability under Section
[dimension] with a[n] appropriate volume of denied, hence the present appeal whereby 68 of P.D. No. 705, particularly the second act
seventy-seven (77) board feet or point punished thereunder. The direct and affirmative
28

testimony of Molina and Potencio as a state witness Moreover and more importantly, an order
on the circumstances surrounding the apprehension discharging an accused from the information in
well establishes petitioner’s liability. Petitioner order that he may testify for the prosecution has
cannot take refuge in his denial of ownership over the effect of an acquittal.27 Once the discharge is
the pieces of lumber found in his possession nor in ordered by the trial court, any future development
his claim that his help was merely solicited by showing that any or all of the conditions provided in
Potencio to provide the latter assistance in Section 17, Rule 119 have not actually been fulfilled
transporting the said lumber. P.D. No. 705 is a will not affect the legal consequence of an
special penal statute that punishes acts essentially acquittal.28 Any witting or unwitting error of the FERDINAND A. CRUZ VS. THE PEOPLE OF THE
malum prohibitum. As such, in prosecutions under prosecution, therefore, in moving for the discharge PHILIPPINES
its provisions, claims of good faith are by no means and of the court in granting the motion—no G.R. No. 176504,
reliable as defenses because the offense is question of jurisdiction being involved—will not September 03, 2008
complete and criminal liability attaches once the deprive the discharged accused of the benefit of
prohibited acts are committed.21 In other words, acquittal and of his right against double jeopardy. A
mere possession of timber or other forest products contrary rule would certainly be unfair to the DECISION
without the proper legal documents, even absent discharged accused because he would then be
malice or criminal intent, is illegal.22 It would faulted for a failure attributable to the prosecutor. It CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
therefore make no difference at all whether it was is inconceivable that the rule has adopted the
petitioner himself or Potencio who owned the abhorrent legal policy of placing the fate of the Before Us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari
subject pieces of lumber. discharged accused at the mercy of anyone who under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court which assails
Considering the overwhelming body of evidence may handle the prosecution.29 Indeed, the only the Decision[1] dated 27 April 2006 of the Court of
pointing to nothing less than petitioner’s guilt of the instance where the testimony of a discharged Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 27661 which affirmed the
offense charged, there is no cogent reason to accused may be disregarded is when he Decision[2] and the Order[3] of the Regional Trial
reverse his conviction. deliberately fails to testify truthfully in court in Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch 140, finding
Petitioner’s challenge against Potencio’s discharge accordance with his commitment,30 as provided for petitioner Ferdinand A. Cruz (Ferdinand) guilty
as a state witness must also fail. Not a few cases in Section 18, Rule 119. Potencio lived up to his beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Qualified
established the doctrine that the discharge of an commitment and for that reason, petitioner’s Theft.
accused so he may turn state witness is left to the challenge against his discharge must be dismissed.
exercise of the trial court’s sound discretion23 WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the
limited only by the requirements set forth in Section assailed decision of the Court of Appeals is On 10 July 1997, an Information was filed before the
17,24 Rule 119 of the Rules of Court. Thus, whether AFFIRMED. RTC of Makati City charging Ferdinand with
the accused offered to be discharged appears to be SO ORDERED. Qualified Theft. The accusatory portion of the
the least guilty and whether there is objectively an Carpio, Acting Chairperson, Carpio-Morales, Azcuna, Information reads:
absolute necessity for his testimony are questions Velasco, Jr., JJ., concur That on or about the 25th day of October 1996, in
that lie within the domain of the trial court, it being the City of Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, a place
competent to resolve issues of fact. The within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
discretionary judgment of the trial court with above-named accused, being then employed as
respect this highly factual issue is not to be Marketing Manager of Porta-Phone Rentals, Inc. with
interfered with by the appellate courts except in office address located at 3/F ENZO Bldg., Sen. Gil
case of grave abuse of discretion.25 No such grave Puyat Avenue, Makati City, herein represented by
abuse is present in this case. Suffice it to say that Juanito M. Tan, Jr. and had access to the funds of
issues relative to the discharge of an accused must the said corporation, with intent to gain and without
be raised in the trial court as they cannot be the knowledge and consent of said corporation, with
addressed for the first time on appeal.26 grave abuse of confidence, did then and there
29

willfully, unlawfully and feloniously take, steal and answered that there was no need to turn over the engaged in the lease of cellular phones and other
carry away the amount of P15,000.00 belonging to said amount because he had outstanding communication equipment, went to the office of
said Porta-Phone Rentals, Inc., to the damage and reimbursements from the company in the amount Porta-Phone located on the third floor of Enzo
prejudice of the latter in the aforesaid amount of of P8,518.08; Exhibit "C" - the Resignation Letter of Building, Senator Gil Puyat Avenue, and took hold of
P15,000.00.[4] Ferdinand; Exhibit "D" - the Inter-Office Demand a pad of official receipts from the desk of Catherine,
Letter dated 7 November 1996, addressed to Porta-Phone's collection officer. With the pad of
The case was docketed as Criminal Case No. 97- Ferdinand from Juanito M. Tan, Jr. requiring the official receipts in his hands, Ferdinand proceeded
945. During the arraignment on 22 August 1997, former to return the amount of P15,000.00; Exhibit to his client, Hemisphere, and delivered articles of
Ferdinand, with the assistance of counsel de parte, "E" - the Handwritten Explanation of Ferdinand communication equipment. Although he was not an
entered a plea of not guilty.[5] Thereafter, trial on dated 8 December 1996, that he remitted the authorized person to receive cash and issue
the merits ensued. amount to Luningning Morando; Exhibit "F"- Inter- receipts for Porta-Phone, Ferdinand received from
Office Memorandum dated 8 November 1996, Hemisphere the amount of P15,000.00 as
At the trial, the prosecution presented the following issued by Juanito Tan and addressed to Luningning refundable deposit for the aforesaid equipment. On
witnesses: (1) Juanito M. Tan, Jr., the General Morando to explain her side regarding the 26 October 1996, Ferdinand went to Porta-Phone
Manager of Porta-Phone Rentals, Inc. (Porta Phone) allegation of Ferdinand that she received the and returned the pad of receipts, but failed to
when the incident in question took place. He P15,000.00; Exhibit "G"- Inter-Office Memorandum deliver the cash he received from Hemisphere. On
testified that Ferdinand appropriated for himself the prepared by Luningning Morando dated 9 November 28 October 1996, the next working day, Catherine
amount of P15,000.00, an amount which should 1996, denying the allegation that she received the checked the booklet of official receipts and found
have been remitted to the company; (2) Catherine amount of P15,000.00 from Ferdinand; Exhibit "H"- that one of the official receipts was missing. The
Villamar (Catherine), the Credit and Collection Inter-Office Memorandum dated 11 November green duplicate of the missing official receipt,
Officer of Porta-Phone, who discovered that 1996, issued by Juanito Tan for Ferdinand to further however, showed that Ferdinand received the
Ferdinand issued a receipt for P15,000.00 from explain his side in light of Luningning Morando's amount of P15,000.00 from Hemisphere. Upon
Hemisphere-Leo Burnett (Hemisphere), and who denial that she received the amount. It also advised learning of Ferdinand's receipt of the said amount,
also testified that Ferdinand misappropriated the Ferdinand to wait for the verification and Catherine confronted Ferdinand, who answered that
amount for his own benefit and, when she computation of his claim for reimbursements; he deposited the amount to his personal bank
confronted him, said he had unpaid reimbursements Exhibit "I"- Formal Demand Letter dated 25 account. Catherine then instructed Ferdinand to
from the company; (3) Luningning Morando, the November 1996, addressed to Ferdinand and issued remit the amount the next day.[6] Catherine
accounting supervisor of Porta-Phone, corroborated by the legal counsel of Porta-Phone Rentals, Inc., reported the incident to the accounting supervisor,
the alleged fact that Ferdinand received the amount asking the former to return to the company the Luningning Morando, who, in turn, reported the
and did not turn over the same to the company; and subject amount; Exhibit "J"- the Affidavit of same to the General Manager, Junito Tan. The
(4) Wilson J. So, Chief Executive Officer of Porta- Complaint executed by Juanito Tan against following day, Ferdinand went to the office but did
Phone, who testified that meetings were held to Ferdinand; Exhibit "K"- the Collection List dated 30 not deliver the amount to Catherine, reasoning that
demand from Ferdinand the subject sum of money. October 1996, showing that Ferdinand received Porta-Phone still owed him unpaid reimbursements.
from Hemisphere the amount of P15,000.00, and [7]
This incident came to the knowledge of Chief
As documentary evidence, the prosecution offered the same was not turned over to Catherine; Exhibit Executive Officer Wilson So. Thus, on 30 October
the following: Exhibit "A" - Official Receipt No. 2242, "L"- Reply-Affidavit dated 5 February 1997, 1996, Wilson So invited Ferdinand, Juanito and
the receipt in which Ferdinand acknowledged that executed by Juanito M. Tan, Jr.; Exhibit "M"- the Sur- Luningning to a meeting. In the meeting, Wilson So
he received the amount of P15,000.00 from Rejoinder Affidavit of Juanito M. Tan, Jr. dated 21 demanded that Ferdinand return the collection.
Hemisphere; Exhibit "B" - the Minutes of the February 1997. Ferdinand refused to turn over the amount to the
Meeting held on 30 October 1996 attended by company. He would return the amount only upon
Wilson So, Juanito Tan, Luningning Morando and The collective evidence adduced by the prosecution his receipt of his reimbursements from the
Ferdinand, wherein Wilson So asked Ferdinand the shows that at around 5:30 p.m. of 25 October 1996, company. Since Ferdinand adamantly withheld the
reason for the former's refusal to remit the in the City of Makati, Ferdinand, who is a Marketing collected amount, Juanito issued a demand letter
P15,000.00 to the company, and Ferdinand Manager of Porta-Phone, a domestic corporation dated 7 November 1996, ordering the former to
30

deliver the amount to the company. Ferdinand company's accounting supervisor, Luningning, to it must be noted that in the beginning, Ferdinand
answered, this time claiming that he had already turn over to her the amount. Luningning received was being indicted for Estafa/Falsification of Private
remitted the amount to Luningning. With this, the money and instructed Ferdinand to fill up the Document. The prosecutor later found that the
Juanito issued a memorandum dated 8 November details of the transaction in Official Receipt No. proper charge should be for Qualified Theft.
1996, addressed to Luningning asking her to 2242. When Ferdinand asked Luningning to affix her Ferdinand argued that since his counter-affidavits
explain her side regarding the allegation of signature to the official receipt to acknowledge that were for the charge Estafa/Falsification of Private
Ferdinand that she received the P15,000.00. she received the amount, the latter declined and Document, he claimed that preliminary
Luningning completely denied having received the instead asked the former to affix his signature, investigation for Qualified Theft was absent. With
amount from Ferdinand. Juanito then issued another since it was he who closed the deal. regard to the second ground, Ferdinand argued that
letter to Ferdinand to further explain his side in view newly discovered evidence, i.e., the testimony of a
of Luningning's denial that she received the Later, on 28 October 1996, Catherine approached certain Marilen Viduya, could change the judgment
amount. In the letter, Juanito also advised Ferdinand him and asked him to affix his signature to the on the case. The RTC granted the motion based on
to wait for the verification and computation of his triplicate copy of Official Receipt No. 2242. the second ground, and set aside its 30 June 2001
claim for reimbursements. With the conflicting decision.
claims of Luningning and Ferdinand, another Ferdinand admitted that he attended the meeting of
meeting was set on 14 November 1996. In that 30 October 1996 with Juanito, Luningning and Marilen Viduya, a former employee of Hemisphere,
meeting Luningning again denied having received Wilson So. He, however, claimed that the discussion testified that she asked Ferdinand to affix his
the amount. Ferdinand did not appear in the centered on his entitlement to reimbursements signature to an acknowledgement receipt for the
meeting. Later, a formal demand letter was issued from the company. Thereupon, Wilson So got angry amount of P15,000.00, which was the refundable
to Ferdinand by Porta-Phone's legal counsel, which with him and asked him to resign, owing to his deposit of Hemisphere for the equipment delivered,
letter went unheeded. Several attempts to reach persistent claim for reimbursement. After this, the because Ferdinand did not bring with him the
Ferdinand proved to be futile. This prompted the company withheld his salary, prompting him to file official receipt of Porta-Phone. She also averred that
company to file a criminal complaint against a labor case against the same on 4 November 1996. Luningning went to Hemisphere and conducted an
Ferdinand. inventory of the delivered communication items.
On 30 June 2001, the RTC rendered a decision Luningning admitted to her that the P15,000.00 was
The defense alleged that the amount involved was finding Ferdinand guilty beyond reasonable doubt of already remitted to Porta-Phone.
already turned over to the company through the crime charged. The decretal portion of the RTC
Luningning. To substantiate this, the defense decision reads: In an Order[9] dated 15 July 2003, the RTC declared
presented Ferdinand as its only witness. that it did not find the testimony of Marilen Viduya
WHEREFORE, finding the accused FERDINAND A. persuasive. It revived and reinstated its 30 June
Ferdinand testified that on 25 October 1996, he CRUZ, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt for the 2001 decision convicting Ferdinand of the crime
delivered to Hemisphere several communication crime of QUALIFIED THEFT, he is hereby sentenced charged.
gadgets and received from the same the amount of to suffer imprisonment of TEN (10) YEARS and ONE
P15,000.00 as refundable deposit (the amount (1) DAY of prision mayor as minimum to FOURTEEN Dissatisfied, Ferdinand appealed the judgment to
required by Porta-Phone from its lessor-client to (14) YEARS, EIGHT (8) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY of the Court of Appeals.
answer for the damage that may befall the items reclusion temporal, as maximum; to indemnify the
leased) for the delivered items. Since he did not offended party in the amount of FIFTEEN The Court of Appeals, on 27 April 2006,
bring with him the official receipt of Porta-Phone, he THOUSAND (P15,000.00) PESOS and to pay the promulgated its Decision affirming the decision of
merely acknowledged having received the amount costs.[8] the RTC, thus:
in an Acknowledgement Receipt issued by WHEREFORE, the present appeal is DENIED. The 30
Hemisphere. Considering that it was already late in On 2 August 2001, Ferdinand filed a Motion for New June 2001 Decision of the Regional Trial Court,
the afternoon when he delivered the Trial on two grounds: (1) absence of a preliminary Branch 140, in Makati City, is hereby AFFIRMED.[10]
communication items, Ferdinand brought the said investigation for the crime of qualified theft; and (2)
amount home. The following day, he went to the newly discovered evidence. Anent the first ground,
31

Ferdinand filed a Motion for Reconsideration which the charge, he is deemed to have waived the right
was denied by the Court of Appeals in a Resolution to preliminary investigation and the right to The elements of the crime of theft are the following:
dated 4 October 2006. question any irregularity that surrounds it.[11] In the (1) there was a taking of personal property; (2) the
instant case, Ferdinand did not present evidence property belongs to another; (3) the taking was
that arraignment was forced upon him. On the without the consent of the owner; (4) the taking was
Hence, the instant petition. contrary, he voluntarily pleaded to the charge and done with intent to gain; and (5) the taking was
actively participated in the trial of the case. accomplished without violence or intimidation
Ferdinand contends that he was denied due process against the person or force upon things.[12] Under
as his trial was pursued without prior clearance Besides, the prior clearance requirement before Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code, theft is
from the Department of Labor pursuant to taking cognizance of complaints under the cited DOJ qualified when it is, among others, committed with
Department of Justice (DOJ) Circular No. 16 which circular is not applicable to the case of Ferdinand. grave abuse of confidence, to wit:
allegedly states that "clearance must be sought The RTC found that the money claim which the
from the Ministry of Labor and /or the Office of the Labor Arbiter awarded to Ferdinand covered only ART. 310. Qualified theft. - The crime of theft shall
President before taking cognizance of complaints his salary during the month of November 1996. It be punished by the penalties next higher by two
for preliminary investigation and the filing in court must be noted that the crime attributed to degrees than those respectively specified in the
of the corresponding information of cases arising Ferdinand was committed on 25 October 1996 next preceding article, if committed x x x with grave
out of, or related to, a labor dispute." He avers that before Ferdinand was entitled to the money claim. abuse of confidence x x x.
this circular is designed to avoid undue harassment In other words, the crime was first committed
that the employer may use to cow employees from before the accrual of the money claim. This being The prosecution established, beyond the shadow of
pursuing money claims against the former. the case, it is not remote that it was Ferdinand who doubt that Ferdinand took and kept the fifteen
used the labor case, which he filed before the Labor thousand peso-collection from the company's client.
He also argues that due process was not accorded Arbiter, to have leverage against the company in Although Ferdinand insists he remitted the amount
since he was indicted for qualified theft, even as he the criminal case. personally to Luningning, this claim is self-serving. If
was initially investigated for estafa/falsification of indeed he personally delivered the P15,000.00, he
private documents. It must be noted that the It is not correct for Ferdinand to claim that would have at least required Luningning to
original indictment was for estafa/falsification of preliminary investigation on the charge of qualified acknowledge the receipt thereof before he parted
private documents but later the prosecutor found it theft was not accorded him. The truth is, Ferdinand with the same. The Court of Appeals incisively
proper to charge him with qualified theft. According was able to answer the initial charge of pointed out that it was implausible for Ferdinand to
to him although he was given the chance to file estafa/falsification of private documents through his have acceded to executing an acknowledgment
counter-affidavits on the charge of counter-affidavits. Based on the same complaint receipt in favor of Hemisphere so as to give the
estafa/falsification of private documents, he was not affidavit and the same sets of evidence presented latter protection from his company, and yet he did
given the opportunity to answer during the by the complainant, the prosecutor deemed it not ask for some kind of receipt when he allegedly
preliminary investigation of the crime of qualified proper to charge Ferdinand with qualified theft. turned over the money to Luningning. Quite
theft. Since the same allegations and evidence were specious is Ferdinand's argument that he would not
proffered by the complainant in the qualified theft, have had in his possession a copy of Official Receipt
Finally, Ferdinand maintains that his guilt was not there is no need for Ferdinand to be given the No. 2242, had he not delivered the amount to
established beyond reasonable doubt, absent opportunity to submit counter-affidavits anew, as he Luningning. Ferdinand acquired the receipt, not
evidence of the presence of the elements of the had already answered said allegations when he because he remitted the amount, but because he
crime charged and given the weakness of the submitted counter-affidavits for the original took a sheet from a booklet of receipts containing
evidence proffered by the prosecution. indictment of estafa/falsification of private Official Receipt number 2242 and issued the same
documents. to Hemisphere despite his lack of authority to do so,
Ferdinand's arguments are not meritorious. to maliciously induce the client into believing that
The RTC correctly convicted Ferdinand of the crime he would remit the amount to Porta-Phone.
The settled rule is that when an accused pleads to of qualified theft.
32

is apparent, because he is not one of the collection bestowed on him by Ferdinand. Ferdinand asserts
officers authorized to collect and receive payment, that Juanito's retraction should not be given
The collected amount belonged to Porta-Phone and thus: credence. This contention is unconvincing. As aptly
not to Ferdinand. When he received the same, he Atty. You made mention of collectibles, who is discussed by the Court of Appeals:
was obliged to turn it over to the company since he Salvad authorized by the company to collect the [W]hile his desistance may cast doubt on his
had no right to retain it or to use it for his own or: collectibles? subsequent testimony, We are not unmindful that
benefit, because the amount was a refundable he was in fact grilled by the defense regarding his
deposit for the communication items leased out by WitnessMy accounting group is the only group motives in revoking his earlier desistance and he
Porta-Phone to Hemisphere. As he had kept it for : authorized to make collections for and on remained steadfast in his testimony that
himself while knowing that the amount was not his, behalf of the company. [Ferdinand] was never authorized by Porta-Phone to
the presence of the element of unlawful taking is collect payments and that during the meeting of 30
settled. Atty. Can you give the names of this accounting October 1996, [Ferdinand] refused to return the
Salvad group that you have mentioned? money. Rather than destroy his credibility, the
Intent to gain (animus lucrandi) is presumed to be or: defense's grilling regarding the reasons for his filing
alleged in an information, in which it is charged that his earlier desistance even strengthened the value
there was unlawful taking (apoderamiento) and WitnessYes sir, the group is composed of : Cathy of his testimony for he only executed the same
appropriation by the offender of the things subject : Villamar; Dull Abular; and Evic Besa. because of some personal favors from [Ferdinand].
of asportation.[13] In this case, it was apparent that And while [Ferdinand] suggests that subsequent
the reason why Ferdinand took the money was that Atty. Is the accused part of the group? revocation of his desistance in open court may be
he intended to gain by it. In the meeting held on 30 Salvad due this time to favors extended by Porta-Phone
October 1996, Ferdinand admitted having received or: cannot be sustained when taken together with the
the amount and kept it until his reimbursements fact that [Juanito] was long been separted from
from the company would be released to him. Thus, WitnessNo sir.[15] Porta-Phone when he testified. In fact Porta-Phone's
in the initial hearing of 23 September 1997, : CEO did not even have kind words for [Juanito]
Ferdinand's counsel made this declaration: when the former testified. x x x.[16]
The lack of consent by the owner of the asported In sum, this Court, yields to the factual findings of
Court: By the way pañero, what is the defense of money is manifested by the fact that Porta-Phone the trial court which were affirmed by the Court of
the accused? consistently sought the return of the same from Appeals, there being no compelling reason to veer
Ferdinand in the meetings held for this purpose and away from the same. This is in line with the precept
xxxx in the various letters issued by the company. stating that when the trial court's findings have
been affirmed by the appellate court, said findings
As a marketing manager of Porta-Phone, Ferdinand are generally conclusive and binding upon this
Atty. Dizon: Denial your honor. Denial. While it is made use of his position to obtain the refundable Court.
true that he did not return that P15,000.00 pesos, it deposit due to Porta-Phone and appropriate it for
is because the company owes the accused more himself. He could not have taken the amount had The RTC imposed on petitioner the indeterminate
than P20,000.00.[14] he not been an officer of the said company. Clearly, penalty of Ten (10) Years and One (1) Day of prision
In the course of his testimony, Ferdinand claimed the taking was done with grave abuse of mayor as minimum to Fourteen (14) Years, Eight (8)
that he had remitted the amount to Luningning. confidence. Months and One (1) Day of reclusion temporal, as
This insistent claim for reimbursements by maximum. Under Article 310 of the Revised Penal
Ferdinand would in fact show that he had the Ferdinand likewise assails the testimony of Code, the penalty for Qualified Theft is two degrees
intention to take the subject money; hence, intent prosecution witness Juanito, who retracted his higher than that specified in Article 309. Paragraph
to gain is made more manifest. affidavit of desistance in favor of the former and 1 of Article 309 provides that if the value of the
explained on the witness stand that he had agreed thing stolen is more than P12,000.00 but does not
Ferdinand's lack of authority to receive the amount to execute the same due to personal favors exceed P22,000.00, the penalty shall be prision
33

mayor in its minimum and medium periods. In this


case, the amount stolen was P15,000.00. Two DECISION For its part, the defense presented accused-
degrees higher than prision mayor minimum and appellant himself and his girlfriend, Karen Nayona.
medium is reclusion temporal in its medium and LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
maximum periods. Applying the Indeterminate The prosecution’s version of the incident is
Sentence Law, the minimum shall be prision mayor Assailed before this Court is the decision[1] succinctly summarized by the Office of the Solicitor
in its maximum period to reclusion temporal in its dated November 29, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in General in its Appellee’s Brief,[3] to wit:
minimum period or within the range of 10 years and CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00301 which affirmed the
1 day to 14 years and 8 months. There being decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of On September 15,
neither aggravating nor mitigating circumstance in Kabacan, Cotabato, Branch 22, in Criminal Case No. 1995 , around eleven o’clock in the
the commission of the offense, the maximum period 98-105, finding accused-appellant Rene Rosas guilty morning, Antonio Palomar Bataga, Jr.
of the indeterminate sentence shall be within the beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder was outside the billiard hall along
range of 16 years, 5 months and 11 days to 18 and sentencing him to suffer the penalty of Aglipay Street near the public
years, 2 months and 20 days. The minimum penalty reclusion perpetua. terminal and market of Kabacan,
imposed by the RTC is correct. However, the Poblacion, Kabacan, Cotabato.
maximum period imposed by RTC should be In the court of origin, accused-appellant was Around 15 meters away, he saw
increased to 16 years, 5 months and 11 days. charged with the crime of Murder in an appellant Rene Rosas standing beside
Information[2] dated October 13, 1998. The crime the post near a store across the
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals was alleged to have been committed, as follows: street. Palomar knew appellant long
dated 27 April 2006 in CA-G.R. CR No. 27661 finding That on September 15, 1995, before, as they were both into
Ferdinand A. Cruz GUILTY of the crime of Qualified in the Municipality of Kabakan, gambling. Thereafter, the victim,
Theft is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Province of Cotabato, Philippines, the Nestor Estacio, arrived alone on
Ferdinand A. Cruz is hereby sentenced to suffer the said accused, armed with a gun, with board his motorcycle. He stopped in
indeterminate penalty of 10 years and 1 day of intent to kill did then and there, front of the Salcedo Newsstand to
prision mayor, as minimum, to 16 years, 5 months willfully, unlawfully, feloniously and buy a newspaper without switching
and 11 days of reclusion temporal, as maximum. with treachery, attack, assault and off his motorcycle’s engine. Before
shot NESTOR ESTACIO, thereby he could drive off, a Weena bus,
SO ORDERED. hitting and inflicting upon the latter which was leaving the Bus Terminal
multiple gunshot wounds on the about that time, blocked his way.
different parts of his body, which Then, appellant, who was coming
caused his instantaneous death. from the left side behind the victim,
shot the latter with a pistol at close
CONTRARY TO LAW. range. After the victim fell on the
ground, more gunshots were heard,
which gunshots were fired at him to
When arraigned on January 5, 1999, accused- make sure that he was dead. After
appellant, assisted by counsel de oficio, pleaded not the shooting, appellant jumped into a
guilty to the crime charged. Thereafter, trial on the motorcycle and escaped.
merits ensued, in the course of which the
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES prosecution presented the testimonies of Dr. Meanwhile, around
vs. Crisostomo Necessario, Jr., Municipal Health Officer that same time and fifteen (15)
RENE ROSAS of Kabacan, Cotabato; Wilfredo Bataga, mayor of meters away, in a carinderia located
G.R. No. 177825 Kabacan, Cotabato; Antonio Palomar Bataga, Jr.; at the Bus Terminal in Poblacion,
October 24, 2008 and Arceli Estacio, widow of the victim. Kabacan, Cotabato, several gunshots
34

were heard. Wilfredo Bataga, who portion of the hypogastric area (left beyond reasonable doubt of the crime
was the owner of the said carinderia abdomen). Thereafter, Dr. of murder qualified by treachery,
and also the commanding officer of Necessario issued a Medical Report judgment is hereby rendered
the 39th Infantry Batallion assigned in attributing the victim’s death to sentencing the accused with penalty
Kabacan, Cotabato, immediately hypovolemic shock caused by of Reclusion Perpetua and to pay the
proceeded to where the gunshots gunshot wounds. heirs of Nestor Estacio the sum of
came from. He saw appellant about P50,000.00 for his death, P40,000.00
to run and a dead body being carried for funeral and burial expenses and
by four persons into a tricycle. On the other hand, accused-appellant’s P50,000.00 for moral damages.
Wilfredo upon seeing that appellant version is hinged mainly on denial and alibi. He
was armed with a 45-caliber pistol, testified that in the morning of September 15, 1995, SO ORDERED.
ran after the latter but lost him in the he was at his boarding house located along USM
crowd. Avenue, Kabacan, Cotabato. The following day, he
went home to Mintal Relocation in Davao City and Pursuant to Section 3(c) of Rule
On October 27, 1995 , came back to Kabacan, Cotabato on August 5, 122 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Wilfredo was handed with a 1998. On that day, while accused-appellant was in Procedure,[5] accused-appellant
cartographic sketch of the suspect a public market, a certain Dodong Rivera appealed his conviction to the
made by the National Bureau of approached and informed him that he should talk to Supreme Court via a notice of appeal.
Investigation. He indorsed the Mayor Wilfredo Bataga because a group of men was [6]
cartographic sketch to the police of out to kill him. So, accused-appellant proceeded to
the Poblacion and reported the the house of Mayor Bataga who showed him a On February 4, 2002, this Court accepted the
incident. cartographic sketch. When accused-appellant was appeal and docketed the same as G.R. No. 148879.
asked if it was him on the sketch, he replied, [7]
On August 5, 1998 , “Siguro, ako nga.” He was then taken to the
around 5:30 in the afternoon, Kabacan Police Station where he was detained. On September 22, 2004, conformably with
appellant was spotted a meter away our pronouncement in People v. Mateo[8] which
in front of Wilfredo’s house. Wilfredo Karen Nayona, accused-appellant’s girlfriend, modified the provisions of the Rules of Court insofar
upon seeing appellant took out his merely corroborated his testimony that he was in as they provide for direct appeals from the RTC to
copy of the cartographic sketch and the boarding house at USM Avenue, Kabacan, this Court in cases where the penalty imposed by
confronted appellant that it was his Cotabato in the morning of September 15, 1995. the trial court is death, reclusion perpetua or life
picture. Appellant answered “Siguro Then, at around 11 o’clock in the morning, they met imprisonment, this Court resolved to refer the case
ako nga.” Appellant was then and went to a fastfood restaurant located along to the Court of Appeals, whereat it was docketed as
immediately arrested. USM Avenue. There, she told accused-appellant CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00301, for appropriate action
that she was two months pregnant with his baby. and disposition.[9]
The post-mortem
examination conducted by Dr. In its decision dated November 29, 2006, the
Crisostomo Necessario, Municipal In a decision[4] dated February 1, 2001, the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of accused-
Health Officer of Kabacan, Cotabato trial court rendered its decision convicting accused- appellant. The decretal portion of the decision
revealed that the victim sustained appellant of the crime of murder, the dispositive reads:
multiple gunshot wounds in the portion of which reads:
lumbar region (lower back area), a WHEREFORE, the assailed
gunshot wound in the epigastric area WHEREFORE, in view of all the decision is hereby AFFIRMED, with
(upper mid-portion of the abdomen foregoing and finding the accused modification that the award for actual
near the chest) and the mid-left Rene Rosas alias Boy Rosal guilty damages is DELETED for reasons
35

already discussed; in lieu thereof, an reasonable doubt. He assails the credibility of the
award of temperate damages in the prosecution witnesses whose testimonies he PROS. DIZON, JR.:
amount of Twenty Five Thousand pictured as inconsistent and fabricated. He also Q. By the way, do
(P25,000.00) Pesos is hereby avers that the prosecution failed to establish his you know the accused in this
GRANTED. identity as the perpetrator of the crime as nobody case?
actually saw him shoot the victim. A. Yes, sir.
SO ORDERED. Q. Do you know Rene
After a careful consideration of the evidence Rosas?
of this case, we find no reason to reverse the A Yes, sir.
From the Court of Appeals, the case was then decision of the Court of Appeals which affirmed the Q. Do you know the other name
elevated to this Court upon filing by accused- RTC decision in Criminal Case No. 98-105. of Rene Rosas?
appellant of a notice of appeal on January 2, 2007. A. Yes, sir.
[10] In its Resolution[11] of July 23, 2007, the Court Accused-appellant cites an inconsistency in Q. Tell the Court what is the
resolved to require both parties to submit their the testimonies of prosecution witnesses Wilfredo other name or the alias of Rene
respective supplemental briefs, if they so desire. Bataga and Antonio Palomar Bataga, Jr. While Rosas?
The parties, however, opted not to file supplemental Wilfredo testified that he saw accused-appellant A. Boy Rosal, sir.
briefs and manifested that they were merely about to run from the crime scene after the Q. Now, prior to 1995 have you
adopting their briefs filed before the appellate shooting, Antonio, on the other hand, testified that known Rene Rosas?
court. accused-appellant jumped into a motorcycle and A. Yes, sir.
escaped after the incident. According to accused- Q. For how long did you know
In this appeal, accused-appellant assigns the appellant, their contradicting testimonies should not Rene Rosas prior to 1995?
following errors: be accorded any weight and credence. A. Long time ago, sir.
Q. How come you know him?
I To our mind, the alleged inconsistency in the A. Because of our gambling
testimonies of the aforesaid prosecution witnesses activities.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN is not sufficient to adversely affect the credibility of Q. By the way, do you gamble?
CONVICTING THE ACCUSED- the prosecution witnesses. It merely pertains to A. Yes, sir.
APPELLANT OF MURDER WHEN THE accused-appellant’s mode of escape, which cannot Q. Now, how about the victim
LATTER’S GUILT WAS NOT PROVEN overcome the categorical and positive identification here, Mr. Estacio, do you know him?
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT. of accused-appellant by both witnesses as the A. Yes, sir.
person who shot the victim. It is perfectly natural Q. How come you know him?
II for different witnesses testifying on the occurrence A. Because he was an employee
of a crime to give varying details as there may be of the Municipal Hall, sir.
THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN some details which one witness may notice while Q. You said you were outside the
CONVICTING THE ACCUSED- the other may not observe or remember. In fact, Billiard Hall at 11:00 o’clock in the
APPELLANT WITH MURDER WHEN THE jurisprudence even warns against a perfect morning, now while you were
QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF dovetailing of narration by different witnesses as it there on September 15, 1995, was
TREACHERY WAS NOT ALLEGED WITH could mean that their testimonies were fabricated there any unusual incident that
SPECIFICITY IN THE INFROMATION and rehearsed.[13] In the instant case, while happened?
PURSUANT TO SECTION 8, RULE 110 prosecution witnesses Antonio and Wilfredo differ in A. Yes, there was, sir.
OF THE REVISED RULES ON CRIMINAL their narration of minor details, they identified Q. Tell the Court, what was that
PROCEDURE.[12] without equivocation the accused-appellant as the unusual incident that happened?
Accused-appellant insists that the perpetrator of the crime. Antonio declared on the A. The killing of Nestor Estacio,
prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond witness stand: sir.
36

Q. Now, did you see the killing of victim Nestor Estacio which was Q. You said that on
Nestor Estacio? brought along by four (4) persons September 15, 1995, at
A. Yes, sir. in loading a tricycle in going to around 11:00 o’clock you were
Q. Now, you said you saw the a hospital, sir. at your carinderia, is that
killing of Nestor Estacio, what was the right?
weapon used in the killing of Mr. xxx A. Yes, sir.
Estacio? xxx xxx Q. Now, your
A. Pistol, sir. carinderia was located that
Q. How long was that? Q. Now, you said you saw time at the old bus terminal
A. Just a short pistol, sir. Rene Rosas, what was he doing building, is that right?
Q. Now, you said that Nestor when you saw him? A. Yes, sir.
Estacio was killed, did you see who A. When I saw him, Q. And you said
killed Nestor Estacio? he was already running while you were there you
ATTY. BALAGOT: together with innocent heard gunshots?
Your Honor please, leading, civilians towards the market, A. Yes, sir.
Your Honor. sir. Q. And you went to
PROS. DIZON, JR.: Q. Now, you said you the site from where the
He testified already, Your also saw the dead body of a gunshots were heard?
Honor please, that he saw. person, what is the name of A. Yes, sir.
COURT: that person who you said is Q. How far was your
Yes, he may answer. dead? carinderia from the site where
A. Yes, sir. A. Nestor Estacio, you heard those gunshots?
Q. Please name him. sir. A. That was more or
A. Rene Rosas, sir.[14] Q. Now, what did you less 15 meters, sir.
Antonio Bataga, Jr. could not have made a do upon seeing the dead Q Fifteen (15) if you will pass
mistake with respect to accused-appellant’s identity body? through the terminal going to that
considering that he knew accused-appellant long A. He was carried site?
before he witnessed the shooting incident in 1995. upon by four persons inside A In the middle of the terminal,
Antonio who was in the vicinity of the crime scene the tricycle for immediate sir.
would thus be able to unmistakably recognize medication, sir. Q Now, at that time, Mr.
accused-appellant when the incident happened at Q. Now, you said you Witness , is it not right that
around 11 o’clock in the morning. saw the accused Rene Rosas, you passed through Jacinto
what did you do when you saw Street particularly at the back
Antonio’s testimony corroborated that of him? of the old terminal building?
Wilfredo Bataga, thus: A. I chased him, sir. I A I intended to conduct a
was not able to arrest him due hamper; a block in front of Ku
PROS. DIZON, JR.: to the thickness of the civilians Kuan so that I could arrest the
Q. Why were you there, was running together with him, sir. suspect and I personally found
there any incident of happening out and identified the running
that occurred? xxx person to be Rene Rosas @
A. When I heard several xxx xxx Boy Rosas running together
gunbursts, I immediately proceeded with scampered civilians, sir.
to the scene of the crime and I ATTY. BALAGOT:
saw the suspect including the lying
37

B But you passed A I was able to identify the unique opportunity to observe at firsthand the
through Jacinto Street, Mr. him when the cartographic witnesses, particularly their demeanor, conduct and
Witness, is it right? sketch of the suspect coming attitude in the course of the trial.[16]
A Yes, sir, and I saw him from the NBI expert and Dr.
personally. Sevilla was given to me, sir. Accused-appellant has not shown any
Q And if you will pass Q Mr. Witness, on evidence of improper motive on the part of Wilfredo
through Jacinto Street, first the September 15, 1995, why did and Antonio that would have driven them to falsely
walking distance would be you chase Rene Rosas? testify against him. Where there is nothing to
around 15 meters, is that A Because I saw in his indicate that the witnesses for the prosecution were
right? arm a pistol caliber 45, sir.[15] actuated by improper motive, their positive and
A I saw him personally categorical declarations on the witness stand under
this way but I crossed the the solemnity of an oath deserve full faith and
block, sir. credence.[17]
Q Now, because at that Clearly, Wilfredo positively identified
juncture while you were appellant as the person running away from the There being no fact or circumstance of weight
walking through that Street, crime scene towards the public market after and substance that would otherwise warrant a
you met this Rene Rosas, is shooting the victim. Just like Antonio, Wilfredo different conclusion, the trial court’s evaluation of
that right? could also not have been mistaken as to accused- the credibility of the prosecution witnesses must be
A I was not able to see appellant’s identity considering that he was just 15 sustained.
him but when I arrived at the meters away from the crime scene and the crime
scene of the crime I saw him was committed in broad daylight. Accused-appellant relies on his alibi that he
personally and I chased him was in his boarding house located along USM
but could not arrest him due Verily, the testimonies of Wilfredo and Avenue, Kabacan, Cotabato the whole morning of
to the thickness of the civilians Antonio on material details are coherent, September 15, 1995. For alibi to prosper, however,
running together with him. unequivocal and consistent with each other. the accused must establish by clear and convincing
Q Now, you claimed that Antonio, who was standing just a few meters away, evidence (a) his presence at another place at the
you saw Rene Rosas the saw accused-appellant shoot the victim from time of the perpetration of the offense and (b) the
accused personally, he was behind, then board a motorcycle. On the other physical impossibility of his presence at the scene
running at the time when you hand, Wilfredo saw accused-appellant immediately of the crime.[18] Where there is even the least
saw him, is that right? after the shooting fleeing from the scene of the chance for the accused to be present at the crime
A About to run when I crime carrying a 45-caliber pistol. Clearly, both scene, the defense of alibi will not hold water.[19]
reached the scene of the witnesses personally saw accused-appellant at the
crime, sir. scene of the crime at the time it was committed. Here, the evidence shows that USM Avenue,
Q Also there were other Contrary to accused-appellant’s assertion, the Kabacan, Cotabato where accused-appellant
persons who were about to declarations and testimonies of Antonio and allegedly was on September 15, 1995 is only 1.5
run at that time, is that right? Wilfredo established beyond reasonable doubt his kilometers away from the public market and
A Yes, sir, when I reached identity as the author of the crime. terminal in Poblacion, Kabacan, Cotabato where the
the scene to chase him he ran crime was committed.[20] According to the trial
already. The trial court gave full faith and credence to court, this distance between the crime scene and
Q That you choose Rene the testimonies of Wilfredo and Antonio. The time- the whereabouts of accused-appellant can easily be
Rosas because that time he tested doctrine is that a trial court’s assessment of negotiated by foot within 10 to 15 minutes.[21] In
was the bodyguard of Mr. the credibility of a witness is entitled to great short, accused-appellant failed to establish by clear
Karutin, is that right? weight, and is even conclusive and binding on this and convincing evidence the physical impossibility
Court. The reason is obvious. The trial court has of his presence at the scene of the crime on the
38

date and time of its commission. Moreover, the Not only was treachery sufficiently alleged, it
defense of alibi crumbles in the face of the positive was likewise proven beyond reasonable doubt by We now come to the award of damages.
identification of accused-appellant by the aforesaid the evidence on record. It is a well-entrenched rule
prosecution witnesses as the perpetrator of the that treachery is present when the offender Conformably with existing jurisprudence, the
crime.[22] commits any of the crimes against persons, heirs of Rene Rosas are entitled to civil indemnity in
employing means, methods or forms in the the amount of P50,000.00, which is mandatory and
In his last-ditch effort to relieve him of liability execution thereof which tend directly and specially is granted to the heirs of the victim without need of
for the crime charged, accused-appellant argues to insure its execution, without risk to himself proof other than the commission of the crime.[28]
that he cannot be convicted of murder because the arising from the defense which the offended party Likewise, moral damages in the amount of
Information failed to state that treachery was a might make. The essence of treachery is that the P50,000.00 shall be awarded in favor of the heirs of
qualifying circumstance. attack is deliberate and without warning, done in a the victim. Moral damages are awarded despite the
swift and unexpected attack, affording the hapless, absence of proof of mental and emotional suffering
Accused-appellant’s argument deserves scant unarmed and unsuspecting victim no chance to of the victim’s heirs. As borne out by human nature
consideration. The recent case of People v. resist or escape.[26] and experience, a violent death invariably and
Sayaboc[23] reiterated the pronouncement in necessarily brings about emotional pain and
People v. Aquino[24] that even after the recent In the instant case, Nestor Estacio was anguish on the part of the victim’s family.[29]
amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure, attacked from behind and assaulted without Accused-appellant is also liable to pay exemplary
qualifying circumstances need not be preceded by warning and provocation. Even when the already damages in the sum of P25,000.00 in view of the
descriptive words such as “qualifying” or “qualified wounded Nestor fell on the ground, accused- presence of the qualifying aggravating
by” to properly qualify an offense. Section 8 of the appellant mercilessly fired several more shots at circumstance of treachery.[30]
Rules of Criminal Procedure[25] does not require him. He obviously wanted to ensure the execution
the use of such words to refer to the circumstances of the killing, without risk to himself, and deprive With respect to actual damages, the victim’s
which raise the category of an offense. It is not the Nestor of any opportunity to retaliate or defend widow, Arceli Estacio, testified that she spent a total
use of the words “qualifying” or “qualified by” that himself. The fact that accused-appellant brought a of P40,000.00 as burial and funeral expenses but
raises a crime to a higher category, but the specific gun with him indicated that he made a deliberate she failed to present receipts to substantiate her
allegation of an attendant circumstance which adds and conscious adoption of the means to kill Nestor. claim. In People v. Abrazaldo,[31] we laid down
the essential element raising the crime to a higher Further, the autopsy conducted by Dr. Necessario the doctrine that where the amount of actual
category. It is sufficient that the qualifying revealed multiple gunshot wounds at the lower back damages for funeral expenses cannot be
circumstances be specified in the Information to area of the lumbar region of Nestor. This autopsy determined because of the absence of receipts to
apprise the accused of the charges against him to indubitably indicates that the shots were fired from prove them, temperate damages may be awarded
enable him to prepare fully for his defense, thus behind on the unsuspecting victim. Clearly then, in the amount of P25,000.00. Thus, in lieu of actual
precluding surprises during trial. treachery or alevosia has been sufficiently damages, temperate damages in the amount of
established. P25,000.00 must be awarded to the heirs of Rene
The Information in this case sufficiently Rosas because although the exact amount was not
alleged the qualifying circumstance of treachery, We, thus, sustain the conviction of Rene proved with certainty, it was reasonable to expect
thus: Rosas for the crime of murder as well as the penalty that they incurred expenses for the coffin and burial
imposed upon him. Under Article 248 of the of the victim.
“xxx, accused armed with a Revised Penal Code, the penalty for the crime of
gun, with intent to kill, did then and murder is reclusion perpetua to death. Accused- WHEREFORE, the decision dated November
there, willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, appellant was correctly sentenced to suffer 29, 2006 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-HC
and with treachery, attack, assault reclusion perpetua, the lower of the two indivisible No. 00301 is hereby AFFIRMED. Accused-
and shot Nestor Esatcio, xxx.” penalties, since there was no other aggravating appellant Rene Rosas is found GUILTY beyond
(Emphasis ours) circumstance attending the commission of the reasonable doubt of the crime of Murder and
crime.[27] sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion
39

perpetua. He is hereby ordered to indemnify the petitioner's contentions are all evidentiary in nature Corruption (PCAGC) and held petitioner acted in
heirs of Nestor Estacio the following: (a) P50,000.00 and may be properly considered only in a full-blown good faith and within the scope of his authority.
as civil indemnity; (b) P50,000.00 as moral trial. On July 2, 2003, the Sandiganbayan issued herein
damages, (c) P25,000.00 as exemplary damages; assailed resolution denying the Motion for Re-
and (d) P25,000.00 as temperate damages. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration. Shortly determination of Probable cause.
thereafter, he filed Supplemental Motion for
SO ORDERED. reconsideration asserting that the complainants Ruling:
were guilty of forum shopping, due to the earlier (1) The established rule is that an absolution from a
dismissal of the administrative case against him. criminal charge is not a bar to an administrative
prosecution, or vice versa. The dismissal of an
Public respondent issued a Resolution denying the administrative case does not necessarily bar the
motion for Reconsideration. filing of the criminal prosecution for the same or
Petitioner files a Motion for Leave to File a Second similar acts which were the subject of the
Motion for Reconsideration. Again, he cited as his administrative complaint.
Criminal Procedure: An absolution from a criminal ground the alleged forum shopping of the private
charge is not a bar to an administrative prosecution complainants. (2) The independent nature of a criminal
or vice versa On April 29, 2002, public respondent issued a prosecution dictates that the Sandiganbayan must
Resolution denying the Motion for Leave to File a determine petitioner's criminal liability without its
second Motion for Reconsideration. It held that hands being tied with what transpired in the
Dominador C. Ferrer, Jr., vs. Sandiganbayan there was no forum shopping since the administrative case.
G.R. No. 161067 administrative and criminal cases are two different - The Court finds no cogent reason to depart from
March 14, 2008 actions, so neither resolution on the same would these rules.
have the effect of res judicata on the other. The
Austria-Martinez, J. public respondent dismissed the second motion for Petitioner argues that the criminal case against him
reconsideration as pro forma and prohibited motion. requires a higher quantum of proof for conviction -
Synopsis: that is proof beyond reasonable doubt - that the
Before the Court is a Petition for Certiorari under Petitioner then filed a Petition for Certiorari with this administrative case, which needs only substantial
rule 65 of the RRC, seeking to annul the Resolutions Court, docketed as G.R. No. 153592, which assailed evidence. He claims that from this circumstance, it
of the Sandiganbayan. The Resolution of July 2, the Resolution of public respondent dated April 29, follows that the dismissal of the administrative case
2003 denied the Motion for re-determination of 2002 as having been issued with grave abuse of should carry with it the dismissal of the criminal
Probable Cause filed by accused Dominador Ferrer discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction. On July case.
(petitioner), while the Resolution of October 22, 1, 2002, the Court dismissed the petition for having This argument has however been addressed in
2003 denied petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration been filed out of time and for failure to pay the jurisprudence. In Valencia v. Sandiganbayan, the
and Motion to Quash. required docket fees. Administrative case against the accused was
On May 19, 2003, before he can be arraigned, dismissed by the Ombudsman on a finding that the
Antecedent Facts: petitioner filed yet another motion with public contract of loan entered into in pursuance of the
On Jan. 29, 2001, an information for violation of R.A. respondent, this time a Motion for Re-determination police power of the accused as local chief
No. 3019 was filed against petitioner. Petitioner of Probable Cause, invoking the ruling of the Office executive, and that the accused had been re-
filed a Motion for Reconsideration alleging that the of the President (OP), dated February 29, 2000, elected to office. The Ombudsman however, still
Office of the Ombudsman disregarded certain which absolved petitioner of the administrative found probable cause to criminally charge the
factual matters which could negate the finding of liability. The OP reviewed the accused in court. When the accused filed a petition
probable cause. administrative case filed against petitioner with the with the Supreme Court to dismiss the criminal case
Public respondent issued a Resolution denying Presidential Commission Against Graft and before the Sandiganbayan, the Court denied the
petitioner's Motion for Reinvestigation. It held that petition.
40

To sustain petitioner's arguments will be to require result in the dismissal of the criminal case. The
the Sandiganbayan and the Ombudsman to merely argument cannot be sustained without violating
adopt the results of administrative investigations settled principles. The rule is that administrative
which would not only diminish the powers and liability is separate and distinct from penal and ciliv
duties of these constitutional offices but, also liabilities. In Larin, no less than the
violate the independent nature of criminal and Supreme Court acquitted the accused of charges of
administrative cases against public officials. This wrongdoing; in the case at bar, no court of justice
will also amount to untold delays in criminal has yet declared petitioner not guilty of committing
proceedings before the Sandiganbayan and illegal or irregular acts.
Ombudsman, as every criminal trial and
investigations will be made to await the results of The independent nature of the criminal prosecution
pending dictates that the Sandiganbayan must determine
administrative investigations, Such is not the intent petitioner's criminal liability without its hands being
of the framers of the Constitution and the laws tied by what transpired in the administrative case.
governing public officers. The court is duty-bound to exercise its independent
Petitioner cites Larin vs. Executive Secretary to judgement. It is not ousted of its jurisdiction by the
support his arguments. That case however, is not ruling in the administrative proceeding. It is
on all fours with the present case. axiomatic that when the court obtains jurisdiction
In Larin, the accused was first convicted by the over the case, it continues to retain it until the case
Sandiganbayan for violation of the National Internal is terminated.
Revenue Code and Sec. 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019. Under the Rules of Court, petitioner's absolution
On the basis of this conviction to the Supreme from administrative liability is not even one of the
Court, however, he was acquitted upon a finding grounds for Motion to Quash.
that the acts he had committed were neither illegal
nor irregular. When the accused sought a similar 3.) Moreover, petitioner lacked the right to file the
dismissal of the administrative case, the Supreme instant petition as he already raised the issue of his
Court sustained him and ruled that since the same discharge from administrative liability in his
acts for which he was administratively charged had supplemental motion for recommendation SB Reso
been found neither illegal nor irregular, dated
his acquittal in the criminal case should entail the 7/13/01.
dismissal of the administrative case.

The present case differs from Larin because here,


the administrative case was filed independently of
the criminal case. The administrative case was not
filed on the basis of a criminal conviction, as in fact,
the administrative case was dismissed without
regard for the results of the criminal case. This is in
contrast with Larin, where the administrative case
was dismissed only after its basis, the criminal
conviction was overturned on appeal.

We cannot reverse Larin by ruling that petitioner's


discharge from the administrative action should