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Case Digest: People vs Webb and Lejano vs People Lejano vs People People vs Webb GR Nos.

176389 and 176864 January 18, 2011

Facts: The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the CA and acquitted accused, namely: Hubert Webb, Antonio Lejano, Michael Atchalian, Hospicio Fernandez, Miguel Rodriguez, Peter Estrada, and Gerardo Biong on the ground of lack of proof of their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Thereafter, complaint Lauro Vizconde, asked the Court to reconsider its decision, claiming that it "denied the prosecution due process of law; seriously misappreciated the facts; unreasonably regarded Alfaro as lacking credibility; issued a tainted and erroneous decision; decided the case in a manner that resulted in the miscarriage of justice; or committed grave abuse in its treatment of the evidence and prosecution witnesses." Issue: Whether or not a judgment of acquittal may be reconsidered. Ruling: No, as a rule a judgment of acquittal cannot be reconsidered for it places the accused under double jeopardy. On occasions, a motion for reconsideration after an acquittal is possible, but the grounds are exceptional and narrow as when the court that absolved the accused gravely abused its discretion, resulting in loss of jurisdiction, or when a mistrial has occurred. In any of such cases, the State may assail the decision by special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65. Althou complainant Vizconde invoked the exceptions, he has been unable to bring pleas for reconsideration under such exceptions. He did not specify that violations of due process and acts constituting grave abuse of discretion that the Court supposedly committed. Vizconde did not also alleged that the Court held a sham review of the decision of the CA. What the complainant actually questions is the Court's appreciation of the evidence and assessment of the prosecution witnesses' credibility. That the court committed grave error in finding Alfaro as not a credible witness. The complaint wants the court to review the evidence anew and render another judgment based on such evaluation which is not constitutionally allowed and therefore, the judgment of acquittal can no longer be disturbed. ANTONIO LEJANO vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES/PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. HUBERT JEFFREY P. WEBB ET. AL, G.R. No. 176864. Dec. 14, 2010 GR No. 176389 ANTONIO LEJANO, Petitioner,

vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x G.R. No. 176864 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, Appellee, vs. HUBERT JEFFREY P. WEBB, ANTONIO LEJANO, MICHAEL A. GATCHALIAN, HOSPICIO FERNANDEZ, MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ, PETER ESTRADA and GERARDO BIONG, Appellants. December 14, 2010 Facts: On June 30, 1991 Estrellita Vizconde and her daughters Carmela, nineteen years old, and xxx, seven, were brutally slain at their home in Paraaque City. Following an intense investigation, the police arrested a group of suspects, some of whom gave detailed confessions. But the trial court smelled a frame-up and eventually ordered them discharged. Thus, the identities of the real perpetrators remained a mystery especially to the public whose interests were aroused by the gripping details of what everybody referred to as the Vizconde massacre. Four years later in 1995, the National Bureau of Investigation or NBI announced that it had solved the crime. It presented star-witness Jessica M. Alfaro, one of its informers, who claimed that she witnessed the crime. She pointed to accused Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb, Antonio "Tony Boy" Lejano, Artemio "Dong" Ventura, Michael A. Gatchalian, Hospicio "Pyke" Fernandez, Peter Estrada, Miguel "Ging" Rodriguez, and Joey Filart as the culprits. She also tagged accused police officer, Gerardo Biong, as an accessory after the fact. Relying primarily on Alfaro's testimony, on August 10, 1995 the public prosecutors filed an information for rape with homicide against Webb, et al. The Regional Trial Court of Paraaque City, presided over by Judge Amelita G. Tolentino, tried only seven of the accused since Artemio Ventura and Joey Filart remained at large. The prosecution presented Alfaro as its main witness with the others corroborating her testimony. These included the medico-legal officer who autopsied the bodies of the victims, the security guards of Pitong Daan Subdivision, the former laundrywoman of the Webbs household, police officer Biongs former girlfriend, and Lauro G. Vizconde, Estrellitas husband. Webbs alibi appeared the strongest since he claimed that he was then across the ocean in the United States of America. He presented the testimonies of witnesses as well as documentary and object evidence to prove this. In addition, the defense

presented witnesses to show Alfaro's bad reputation for truth and the incredible nature of her testimony. But impressed by Alfaros detailed narration of the crime and the events surrounding it, the trial court found a credible witness in her. It noted her categorical, straightforward, spontaneous, and frank testimony, undamaged by grueling cross-examinations. On January 4, 2000, after four years of arduous hearings, the trial court rendered judgment, finding all the accused guilty as charged and imposing on Webb, Lejano, Gatchalian, Fernandez, Estrada, and Rodriguez the penalty of reclusion perpetua and on Biong, an indeterminate prison term of eleven years, four months, and one day to twelve years. The trial court also awarded damages to Lauro Vizconde. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial courts decision, modifying the penalty imposed on Biong to six years minimum and twelve years maximum and increasing the award of damages to Lauro Vizconde. The appellate court did not agree that the accused were tried by publicity or that the trial judge was biased. It found sufficient evidence of conspiracy that rendered Rodriguez, Gatchalian, Fernandez, and Estrada equally guilty with those who had a part in raping and killing Carmela and in executing her mother and sister. On April 20, 2010, as a result of its initial deliberation in this case, the Court issued a Resolution granting the request of Webb to submit for DNA analysis the semen specimen taken from Carmelas cadaver, which specimen was then believed still under the safekeeping of the NBI. The Court granted the request pursuant to section 4 of the Rule on DNA Evidence to give the accused and the prosecution access to scientific evidence that they might want to avail themselves of, leading to a correct decision in the case. Unfortunately, on April 27, 2010 the NBI informed the Court that it no longer has custody of the specimen, the same having been turned over to the trial court. The trial record shows, however, that the specimen was not among the object evidence that the prosecution offered in evidence in the case. This outcome prompted accused Webb to file an urgent motion to acquit on the ground that the governments failure to preserve such vital evidence has resulted in the denial of his right to due process. Controlling Issues: 1. Whether or not Alfaros testimony as eyewitness, describing the crime and identifying Webb, Lejano, Gatchalian, Fernandez, Estrada, Rodriguez, and two others as the persons who committed it, is entitled to belief; and

2. Whether or not Webb presented sufficient evidence to prove his alibi and rebut Alfaros testimony that he led the others in committing the crime. Other Issues: 1. Whether or not the Court should acquit him outright, given the governments failure to produce the semen specimen that the NBI found on Carmelas cadaver, thus depriving him of evidence that would prove his innocence; and 2. Whether or not Webb, acting in conspiracy with Lejano, Gatchalian, Fernandez, Estrada, Rodriguez, Ventura, and Filart, raped and killed Carmela and put to death her mother and sister. Held: The Right to Acquittal Due to Loss of DNA Evidence Webb claims, citing Brady v. Maryland, that he is entitled to outright acquittal on the ground of violation of his right to due process given the States failure to produce on order of the Court either by negligence or willful suppression the semen specimen taken from Carmela. When Webb raised the DNA issue, the rule governing DNA evidence did not yet exist, the country did not yet have the technology for conducting the test, and no Philippine precedent had as yet recognized its admissibility as evidence. Consequently, the idea of keeping the specimen secure even after the trial court rejected the motion for DNA testing did not come up. Indeed, neither Webb nor his coaccused brought up the matter of preserving the specimen in the meantime. Parenthetically, after the trial court denied Webbs application for DNA testing, he allowed the proceeding to move on when he had on at least two occasions gone up to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court to challenge alleged arbitrary actions taken against him and the other accused. They raised the DNA issue before the Court of Appeals but merely as an error committed by the trial court in rendering its decision in the case. None of the accused filed a motion with the appeals court to have the DNA test done pending adjudication of their appeal. This, even when the Supreme Court had in the meantime passed the rules allowing such test. Considering the accuseds lack of interest in having such test done, the State cannot be deemed put on reasonable notice that it would be required to produce the semen specimen at some future time. Suspicious Details Alfaro had been hanging around at the NBI since November or December 1994 as an

"asset." She supplied her handlers with information against drug pushers and other criminal elements. Some of this information led to the capture of notorious drug pushers like Christopher Cruz Santos and Orlando Bacquir. Alfaros tip led to the arrest of the leader of the "Martilyo gang" that killed a police officer. Because of her talent, the task force gave her "very special treatment" and she became its "darling," allowed the privilege of spending nights in one of the rooms at the NBI offices. When Alfaro seemed unproductive for sometime, however, they teased her about it and she was piqued. One day, she unexpectedly told Sacaguing that she knew someone who had the real story behind the Vizconde massacre. Sacaguing showed interest. Alfaro promised to bring that someone to the NBI to tell his story. When this did not happen and Sacaguing continued to press her, she told him that she might as well assume the role of her informant. Webbs U.S. Alibi Among the accused, Webb presented the strongest alibi through (a) the travel preparations; (b) the two immigration checks; (c) details of US sojourn; (d) the second immigration check; and (e) alibi versus positive identification; and (f) a documented alibi. To establish alibi, the accused must prove by positive, clear, and satisfactory evidence that (a) he was present at another place at the time of the perpetration of the crime, and (b) that it was physically impossible for him to be at the scene of the crime. The trial court and the Court of Appeals expressed marked cynicism over the accuracy of travel documents like the passport as well as the domestic and foreign records of departures and arrivals from airports. They claim that it would not have been impossible for Webb to secretly return to the Philippines after he supposedly left it on March 9, 1991, commit the crime, go back to the U.S., and openly return to the Philippines again on October 26, 1992. Travel between the U.S. and the Philippines, said the lower courts took only about twelve to fourteen hours. Effect of Webbs alibi to others Webbs documented alibi altogether impeaches Alfaro's testimony, not only with respect to him, but also with respect to Lejano, Estrada, Fernandez, Gatchalian, Rodriguez, and Biong. For, if the Court accepts the proposition that Webb was in the U.S. when the crime took place, Alfaros testimony will not hold together. Webbs participation is the anchor of Alfaros story. Without it, the evidence against the others must necessarily fall. Conclusion In our criminal justice system, what is important is, not whether the court entertains doubts about the innocence of the accused since an open mind is willing to explore all possibilities, but whether it entertains a reasonable, lingering doubt as to his guilt. For, it

would be a serious mistake to send an innocent man to jail where such kind of doubt hangs on to ones inner being, like a piece of meat lodged immovable between teeth. Will the Court send the accused to spend the rest of their lives in prison on the testimony of an NBI asset who proposed to her handlers that she take the role of the witness to the Vizconde massacre that she could not produce? The Supreme Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the Decision dated December 15, 2005 and Resolution dated January 26, 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CRH.C. 00336 and ACQUITS accused-appellants Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb, Antonio Lejano, Michael A. Gatchalian, Hospicio Fernandez, Miguel Rodriguez, Peter Estrada and Gerardo Biong of the crimes of which they were charged for failure of the prosecution to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. They are ordered immediately RELEASED from detention unless they are confined for another lawful cause. Antonio Lejano vs. People of the Philippines / People of the Philippines vs. Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb, et al., G.R. No. 176389/G.R. No. 176864. January 18, 2011. Post under Political Law at Sunday, October 16, 2011 Posted by Schizophrenic Mind

Bill of Rights; Double Jeopardy (J. Abad) As a rule, a judgment of acquittal cannot be reconsidered because it places the accused under double jeopardy. On occasions, however, a motion for reconsideration after an acquittal is possible. But the grounds are exceptional and narrow as when the court that absolved the accused gravely abused its discretion, resulting in loss of jurisdiction, or when a mistrial has occurred. In any of such cases, the State may assail the decision by special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65. Here, although complainant Vizconde invoked the exceptions, he was not able to bring his pleas for reconsideration under such exceptions. Complainant Vizconde cited the decision in Galman v. Sandiganbayan as authority that the Court can set aside the acquittal of the accused in the present case. But the Court observed that the government proved in Galman that the prosecution was deprived of due process since the judgment of acquittal in that case was dictated, coerced and scripted. It was a sham trial. In this case, however, Vizconde does not allege that the Court held a sham review of the decision of the CA. He has made out no case that the Court held a phony deliberation such that the seven Justices who voted to acquit the accused, the four who dissented, and the four who inhibited themselves did not really go through the process.

EN BANC [G.R. No. 176389 : February 15, 2011] ANTONIO LEJANO V. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES; AND G.R. NO. 176864 (PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES V. HUBERT JEFFREY P. WEBB, ANTONIO LEJANO, MICHAEL A. GATCHALIAN, HOSPICIO FERNANDEZ, MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ, PETER ESTRADA AND GERARDO BIONG Sirs/Mesdames: Please take notice that the Court en banc issued a Resolution dated February 15, 2011, which reads as follows: "G.R. No. 176389 (Antonio Lejano v. People of the Philippines); and G.R. No. 176864 (People of the Philippines v. Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb, Antonio Lejano, Michael A. Gatchalian, Hospicio Fernandez, Miguel Rodriguez, Peter Estrada and Gerardo Biong).: REVISED RESOLUTION In its Resolution of January 18, 2011, the Court directed Mr. Lauro G. Vizconde and Atty. Ferdinand S. Topacio to substantiate their publicized claims that the Court had been paid to acquit the accused in this case and that Justice Antonio Carpio, a member of the Court, worked on his colleagues to ensure such acquittal. As for Mr. Dante La. Jimenez, the Court directed him to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for uttering expletives against the Justices of the Court in a television interview on account of their decision in the case. Mr. Vizconde does not deny the statements that the Court attributes to him: When asked to give his comment regarding the decision, Mr. Lauro Vizconde claimed that the Supreme Court was certainly bought that was why it declared the accused innocent. A journalist asked him, "Sino po 'yung mga sinasabi niyong ahm, ginapang po ?" Mr. Vizconde answered, "Eh walang iba kung 'di si Justice Carpio, eh talaga namang sinabi sa akin ng isang Justice diyan x x x Sigurado 'ko kung hindi nagkabayaran, hindi magkakaganito yung kaso ko." Even before the decision came out, Mr. Vizconde has mentioned that Justice Carpio was "talagang binabraso itong kasamahan sa justice para paboran siya in favor of the Webb." It is clear from the above that, even before the Court's decision came out, Mr. Vizconde already heralded in public that Justice Carpio had been exerting pressure on the other Justices to acquit accused Hubert Webb. Mr. Vizconde publicly reiterated this alleged manipulation after the decision came out. The implication is that the Justices who voted for acquittal succumbed to Justice Carpio's pressure. In addition, Mr. Vizconde claims that the votes of the Justices had been bought. Mr. Vizconde's above statements to the media are extremely serious. He accuses the Court of being crooked and corrupt. Yet, when called to substantiate his accusations, all he can say is that it would not be proper "at this time" to reveal to the Court the identities of his unimpeachable informants. But this is like saying, "You are crooks but let me not prove it to you considering that it is not yet time for me to tell the truth." : But Mr. Vizconde is being unfair to the Court whom he charges with acquitting Webb and the others for money. There is no better time for him to present proof of his accusations than today, not two, three, or five years later when the events he cites would have been drowned by stupor, when time shall have eroded its freshness and clarity. Putting off a fight is the excuse of cowards or those who have nothing to show and refuse to admit they had been wrong. They love to shout their accusations on the rooftops who would not go down to stand for what they utter. They claim allegiance to the truth but would not defend it. Here, the Court sat as a neutral judge that weighed the evidence of the prosecution and the defense after taking into account the previous findings of the trial court and the divided views of the Court of Appeals. After it had taken a position, the Court took pains to support the same with long and detailed

explanation, backed by specific evidence that it cited from the record. The Court does not of course expect everyone to agree with its decision. Dissenters can openly disagree with it. But the rule of law demands obedience to such decision and respect for the institution that handed it down. Maligning the Court and its decision is an option of those who seek to bring the Court down. The Court is duty bound to defend itself, using its inherent contempt powers. That Mr. Vizconde continues to grieve over his failure to get just retribution for the death of his wife and daughters is not, however, lost to the Court. For this reason, the Court is more than willing to stay its hand from meting out to him the full measure of punishment that his actions would otherwise deserve. It is different in Atty. Topacio's case. Like Mr. Vizconde, Atty. Topacio does not deny the statements that the Court attributes to him in its resolution: Mr. Ferdinand Topacio of the People's Movement for Justice said in a press interview that three members of the judiciary "were 'privy to the alleged effort's of Carpio to convince fellow justices to vote for the acquittal of Hubert Webb, principal accused in the massacre of Vizconde's wife and daughters on June 30, 1991...that Carpio was the 'point man in marshalling efforts to secure the acquittal of Webb as early as the time when the case was still under review before the Court of Appeals." Notably, Atty. Topacio did not say at his press interview that the accusations he uttered against Justice Carpio (and impliedly against the Court's majority that the latter supposedly succeeded in persuading) came from Mr. Vizconde. Indeed, the media credited Atty. Topacio with the statement he gave as a representative of the People's Movement for Justice (PMJ). He must, therefore, assume full responsibility for his bare statements and not seek the cover of Mr. Vizconde. Justice Carpio inhibited himself from the case because he gave testimony at the trial that, at about the time the crime took place, former Senator Freddie Webb called him and said that he was in the United States and helping his son Hubert find work there. It would have been improper for Justice Carpio, therefore, to try to influence his colleagues in the Court regarding the case. Actually, Justice Carpio neither asked nor influenced any of his colleagues to vote for the acquittal of Hubert Webb or any of the accused. But Atty. Topacio, a lawyer and, thus, an officer of the Court, told the media that Justice Carpio did try to influence his colleagues and even served as point man for the accused. Atty. Topacio said in the joint compliance: 5. The statements attributed to Topacio regarding alleged efforts on the part of Mr. Justice Carpio, given in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, were based on information related to him by Mr. Lauro Vizconde when Mr. Vizconde sought his advice whether or not to take action on his information. The undersigned told Mr. Vizconde that if what he (Vizconde) was saying regarding Mr. Justice Carpio was indeed true, then we had an obligation he as a Filipino citizen, and I as both a Filipino and an officer of the Courtto reveal the same so that the Supreme Court may take appropriate action, but that to avoid any suspicion that we were being used by certain groups to discredit the Supreme Court, then we should not give the information in a private conference with numerous members of the media present, but should only reveal it to one media entity;" Atty. Topacio said a mouthful. First, he admitted that he was conscious of his duty to reveal to the Supreme Court Justice Carpio's supposed misdeed so the Court "may take appropriate action." Yet, he did not abide by that duty. He did not advise Mr. Vizconde to communicate the matter to the Supreme Court directly so it could act on the same. Second, Atty. Topacio advised Mr. Vizconde to release his damaging accusation, which they were not then prepared to substantiate, to one media entity. As an officer of the Court, Atty. Topacio had a bounden duty to uphold its dignity and authority, not promote distrust in its administration of justice."[1] He ought not to unnecessarily destroy the people's high esteem and regard for the courts, so essential to the proper administration of justice. [2] Besides, Atty. Topacio claims that what he said to the Inquirer "were based on information related to him

by Mr. Lauro Vizconde." But Atty. Topacio himself belies this claim in paragraph 8 of the Joint Compliance where he said that their unimpeachable source gave the information to both Mr. Vizconde and him: 8. Both undersigned [Vizconde and Topacio] reiterate their utmost respect and support for the institution of the Supreme Court, their full faith in the integrity and leadership of Mr. Chief Justice Renato Corona, and states for the record that their pronouncements regarding Mr. Justice Antonio Carpio were made in reliance with the information given to them in confidence by unimpeachable sources. xxx. Atty. Topacio has to explain to the Court his lack of candor. In the case of Mr. Dante Jimenez, he avers that he and Mr. Vizconde were among the founders of the organization called Crusade Against Violence which expanded to become Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC). Mr. Jimenez said that he stood by Mr. Vizconde in his quest for justice in the massacre of his wife and daughters and they became like brothers. Mr. Jimenez believed the evidence against the accused in that case was overwhelming. Apparently, on December 14, 2010 the media covered the residence of Mr. Vizconde in anticipation of the announcement of the Court's verdict on the rape and homicide case involving his wife and daughters. Mr. Jimenez was present to lend support to his friend. Mr. Jimenez claims that when they heard the Court's spokesman announce the acquittal of the accused in the case, a spontaneous outburst of dismay came from Mr. Vizconde, his family, and his supporters, including Mr. Jimenez. They were "totally shocked and devastated," said the latter. Mr. Jimenez does not deny what the Court's resolution of January 18, 2011 attributes to him: On the other hand, during a press conference held after the decision was released, Mr. Dante Jimenez, former President of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), uttered the following: "Kayong mga P.I. kayo, kayong mga Justices diyan na nakita po namin ang inyong ginawa po dito. Pinatay ninyo ang criminal justice system! Mga P.I. kayo! xxx Granting that he was pained to hear the verdict of innocence that the Court announced, Mr. Jimenez was not justified in hurling such obscene invectives against its Justices. He could not say that the outcome was an absolute surprise. The Court of Appeals that decided the case earlier was divided, three-two. Mr. Jimenez knew that the verdict of the Supreme Court could go either way, a conviction or an acquittal. Parenthetically, Mr. Vizconde behaved better than Mr. Jimenez. Mr. Vizconde did not express his anger like a slut. In fairness, the Court grants that Mr. Vizconde's grieving could mitigate Mr. Jimenez's actuation. But it would not completely excuse him from willfully and publicly badmouthing the members of the Court since it obviously was not such an uncontrollable outburst from the depth of anger and dismay. He does not appear to have lost his sense of balance and reason altogether. No. Mr. Jimenez faced the television camera. He was conscious that he would get some publicity in what he would say. Indeed, he had such a clear idea of what he was going to say that he chose to address the members of the Court directly, saying: "Kayong mga P.I. kayo, kayong mga Justices diyan na nakita po namin ang inyong ginawa po dito. Pinatay ninyo ang criminal justice system! Mga P.I. kayo! x x x" Mr. Jimenez cannot invoke his right to freedom of speech and expression to justify his foulmouthed remarks against the members of the Court. The Court held in Roxas v. De Zuzuaregui, Jr.[3] that the making of contemptuous statements directed against the Court is not an exercise of free speech, but an abuse of such right. Unwarranted attacks on the dignity of the courts cannot be disguised as free speech, for the exercise of said right cannot be used to impair public respect and confidence in the courts. Thus, "(f)ree expression must not be used as a vehicle to satisfy one's irrational obsession to demean, ridicule, degrade and even destroy this Court and its magistrates."[4] WHEREFORE, the Court:

1. Strongly ADMONISHES Mr. Lauro Vizconde for publicly stating that the Court had been bought when it acquitted the accused and that Justice Antonio Carpio put pressure on its members to vote for such acquittal when he, Mr. Vizconde, was not prepared to substantiate such statement; 2. FINDS Mr. Dante La. Jimenez guilty of contempt of court for badmouthing the members of the Court and imposes on him the penalty of fine of P100,000.00;and 3. DIRECTS Atty. Ferdinand S. Topacio to show cause within ten (10) days from receipt of this resolution why he should not be held in contempt for publicly stating through the Philippine Daily Inquirer, when he was not ready to substantiate the same with evidence, that three members of the judiciary were privy to "the alleged efforts of [Justice] Carpio to convince fellow justices to vote for the acquittal of Hubert Webb, principal accused in the massacre of Vizconde's wife and daughters on June 30, 1991...that [Justice] Carpio was the 'point man in marshalling efforts to secure the acquittal of Webb as early as the time when the case was still under review before the Court of Appeals."[5] The Court further Resolved to (a) CONSIDER as SERVED the resolution dated November 23, 2010 addressed to Atty. Divinagracia S. San Juan of Sobrevias Hayudini Navarro & San Juan, 5th Flr. San Luis Terraces, T.M. Kalaw St, Ermita, Manila, which resolution was returned unserved with notations on the letter envelope 'RTS-Moved Out;' (b) NOTE WITHOUT ACTION the Letter dated February 2, 2011 of Eloysa G. Sicam, For the Firm Ongkiko Manhit Custodio & Acorda Law OFFICES (ocmalaw), Main Office; 4th Flr. CGB Condominium, 101 Aguirre St., Legaspi Village, Makati City 1229, P.O. Box 4039, Philippines, on behalf of their client, Hubert Jeffrey Webb, in view of the [*] actionthat the Court has taken on Mr. Jimenez and the joint compliance filed by Atty. Topacio and Mr. Vizconde; (c) DENY for lack of merit the Motion for Leave to File Herein Integrated Second Motion for Reconsideration with Motion for Inhibition dated January 8, 2011 filed by private complainant Mr. Vizconde; (d) DENY the Second Motion for Reconsideration for being a prohibited pleading under Section 2, Rule 52, in relation to Section 2, Rule 56, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended; and (e) DENY the Motion for Inhibition in view of the finality of the Decision dated December 14, 2010." Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Nachura, Del Castillo, JJ., no part. Bersamin, J., on leave. Very truly yours, (Sgd.) ENRIQUETA E. VIDAL Clerk of Court Endnotes:

[1]

Legal and Judicial Ethics, Ernesto L. Pineda, 1999 Ed., p. 113.

[2]

Re: Conviction of Judge Adoration G. Angeles, RTC, Branch 121, Caloocan City in Crim. Cases Q-9769655 to 56 for Child Abuse.
[3]

G.R. Nos. 152072 and 152104, July 12, 2007, 527 SCRA 446 Id. at 459.

[4]

[*]

the words "that the Court has taken on" were added.

CASE 2011-0020: (DENIAL OF MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION) ANTONIO LEJANO VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES (G.R. NO. 176389); PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. HUBERT JEFFREY P. WEBB, ANTONIO LEJANO, MICHAEL A. GATCHALIAN, HOSPICIO FERNANDEZ, MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ, PETER ESTRADA and GERARDO BIONG (18 JANUARY 2011, ABAD, J.)
Filed under: LATEST SUPREME COURT CASES Leave a comment January 25, 2011 (DENIAL OF MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION) ANTONIO LEJANO VS. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES (G.R. NO. 176389); PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. HUBERT JEFFREY P. WEBB, ANTONIO LEJANO, MICHAEL A. GATCHALIAN, HOSPICIO FERNANDEZ, MIGUEL RODRIGUEZ, PETER ESTRADA and GERARDO BIONG (18 JANUARY 2011, ABAD, J.) x - x

DOCTRINES: AS A GENERAL RULE CAN JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL BE RECONSIDERED? NO, BECAUSE IT IS PROHIBITED BY THE CONSTITUTION. But, as a rule, a judgment of acquittal cannot be reconsidered because it places the accused under double jeopardy. The Constitution provides in Section 21, Article III, that: Section 21. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense. x xx WHAT IS THE EFFECT IF A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL BE RECONSIDERED? IT WILL PUT HIM TWICE IN JEOPARDY OF BEING PUNISHED FOR THE SAME CRIME. THIS SCHEME IF ALLOWED CAN MAKE THE GOVT AN INSTRUMENT OF OPPRESSION. To reconsider a judgment of acquittal places the accused twice in jeopardy of being punished for the crime of which he has already been absolved. There is reason for this provision of the Constitution.

In criminal cases, the full power of the State is ranged against the accused. If there is no limit to attempts to prosecute the accused for the same offense after he has been acquitted, the infinite power and capacity of the State for a sustained and repeated litigation would eventually overwhelm the accused in terms of resources, stamina, and the will to fight. As the Court said in People of the Philippines v. Sandiganbayan:[1][2] [A]t the heart of this policy is the concern that permitting the sovereign freely to subject the citizen to a second judgment for the same offense would arm the government with a potent instrument of oppression. The provision therefore guarantees that the State shall not be permitted to make repeated attempts to convict an individual for an alleged offense, thereby subjecting him to embarrassment, expense, and ordeal and compelling him to live in a continuing state of anxiety and insecurity, as well as enhancing the possibility that even though innocent he may be found guilty. Societys awareness of the heavy personal strain which a criminal trial represents for the individual defendant is manifested in the willingness to limit the government to a single criminal proceeding to vindicate its very vital interest in the enforcement of criminal laws. [2][3] BUT IS THERE AN EXCEPTION TO THE RULE THAT JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL WILL NOT BE RECONSIDERED? YES, IF THERE IS GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION. Of course, on occasions, a motion for reconsideration after an acquittal is possible. But the grounds are exceptional and narrow as when the court that absolved the accused gravely abused its discretion, resulting in loss of jurisdiction, or when a mistrial has occurred. In any of such cases, the State may assail the decision by special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65.[3][4] DID VIZCONDE PROVE GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION? NO. HE DID NOT SPECIFY THE ACTS CONSTITUTING GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION. HIS CLAIM IS MERE CONCLUSION DRAWN FROM PERSONAL PERCEPTION. Here, although complainant Vizconde invoked the exceptions, he has been unable to bring his pleas for reconsideration under such exceptions. For instance, he avers that the Court must ensure that due process is afforded to all parties and there is no grave abuse of discretion in the treatment of witnesses and the evidence.[4][5] But he has not specified the violations of due process or acts constituting grave abuse of discretion that the Court supposedly committed. His claim that the highly questionable and suspicious evidence for the defense taints with serious doubts the validity of the decision[5][6] is, without more, a mere conclusion drawn from personal perception. Complainant Vizconde cites the decision in Galman v. Sandiganbayan[6][7] as authority that the Court can set aside the acquittal of the accused in the present case. But the government proved in Galmanthat the prosecution was deprived of due process since the judgment of acquittal in that case was dictated, coerced and scripted.[7][8] It was a sham trial. Here, however, Vizconde does not

allege that the Court held a sham review of the decision of the CA. He has made out no case that the Court held a phony deliberation in this case such that the seven Justices who voted to acquit the accused, the four who dissented, and the four who inhibited themselves did not really go through the process. WHAT WAS THE SUBSTANCE OF VIZCONDES MOTION FOR RECON? IT QUESTIONS THE COURTS APPRECIATION OF THE EVIDENCE. IT WANTS THE COURT TO RE-EVALUATE THE EVIDENCE. IT IS A REPEATED ATTEMPT TO SECURE THE CONVICTION OF WEBB ET AL. IT IS PROHIBITED. Ultimately, what the complainant actually questions is the Courts appreciation of the evidence and assessment of the prosecution witnesses credibility. He ascribes grave error on the Courts finding that Alfaro was not a credible witness and assails the value assigned by the Court to the evidence of the defense. In other words, private complainant wants the Court to review the evidence anew and render another judgment based on such a re-evaluation. This is not constitutionally allowed as it is merely a repeated attempt to secure Webb, et als conviction. The judgment acquitting Webb, et al is final and can no longer be disturbed.

[1][2] G.R. Nos. 168188-89, June 16, 2006, 491 SCRA 185. [2][3] Id. at 207. [3][4] Castro v. People, G.R. No. 180832, July 23, 2008, 559 SCRA 676, 683-684. [4][5] Supra note 1, at 7. [5][6] Id. at 12. [6][7] 228 Phil. 42 (1986). [7][8] Id. at 89. XX

RESOLUTION
ABAD, J.: On December 14, 2010 the Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals (CA) and acquitted the accused in this case, Hubert Jeffrey P. Webb, Antonio Lejano, Michael A. Gatchalian, Hospicio Fernandez, Miguel Rodriguez, Peter Estrada, and Gerardo Biong of the charges against them on the ground of lack of proof of their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. On December 28, 2010 complainant Lauro G. Vizconde, an immediate relative of the victims, asked the Court to reconsider its decision, claiming that it denied the prosecution due process of law; seriously misappreciated the facts; unreasonably regarded Alfaro as lacking credibility; issued a

tainted and erroneous decision; decided the case in a manner that resulted in the miscarriage of justice; or committed grave abuse in its treatment of the evidence and prosecution witnesses. [1][1] But, as a rule, a judgment of acquittal cannot be reconsidered because it places the accused under double jeopardy. The Constitution provides in Section 21, Article III, that: Section 21. No person shall be twice put in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense. x xx To reconsider a judgment of acquittal places the accused twice in jeopardy of being punished for the crime of which he has already been absolved. There is reason for this provision of the Constitution. In criminal cases, the full power of the State is ranged against the accused. If there is no limit to attempts to prosecute the accused for the same offense after he has been acquitted, the infinite power and capacity of the State for a sustained and repeated litigation would eventually overwhelm the accused in terms of resources, stamina, and the will to fight. As the Court said in People of the Philippines v. Sandiganbayan:[2][2] [A]t the heart of this policy is the concern that permitting the sovereign freely to subject the citizen to a second judgment for the same offense would arm the government with a potent instrument of oppression. The provision therefore guarantees that the State shall not be permitted to make repeated attempts to convict an individual for an alleged offense, thereby subjecting him to embarrassment, expense, and ordeal and compelling him to live in a continuing state of anxiety and insecurity, as well as enhancing the possibility that even though innocent he may be found guilty. Societys awareness of the heavy personal strain which a criminal trial represents for the individual defendant is manifested in the willingness to limit the government to a single criminal proceeding to vindicate its very vital interest in the enforcement of criminal laws. [3][3] Of course, on occasions, a motion for reconsideration after an acquittal is possible. But the grounds are exceptional and narrow as when the court that absolved the accused gravely abused its discretion, resulting in loss of jurisdiction, or when a mistrial has occurred. In any of such cases, the State may assail the decision by special civil action of certiorari under Rule 65.[4][4] Here, although complainant Vizconde invoked the exceptions, he has been unable to bring his pleas for reconsideration under such exceptions. For instance, he avers that the Court must ensure that due process is afforded to all parties and there is no grave abuse of discretion in the treatment of witnesses and the evidence.[5][5] But he has not specified the violations of due process or acts constituting grave abuse of discretion that the Court supposedly committed. His claim that the highly questionable and suspicious evidence for the defense taints with serious doubts the validity of the decision[6][6] is, without more, a mere conclusion drawn from personal perception. Complainant Vizconde cites the decision in Galman v. Sandiganbayan[7][7] as authority that the Court can set aside the acquittal of the accused in the present case. But the government proved in Galmanthat the prosecution was deprived of due process since the judgment of acquittal in that

case was dictated, coerced and scripted.[8][8] It was a sham trial. Here, however, Vizconde does not allege that the Court held a sham review of the decision of the CA. He has made out no case that the Court held a phony deliberation in this case such that the seven Justices who voted to acquit the accused, the four who dissented, and the four who inhibited themselves did not really go through the process. Ultimately, what the complainant actually questions is the Courts appreciation of the evidence and assessment of the prosecution witnesses credibility. He ascribes grave error on the Courts finding that Alfaro was not a credible witness and assails the value assigned by the Court to the evidence of the defense. In other words, private complainant wants the Court to review the evidence anew and render another judgment based on such a re-evaluation. This is not constitutionally allowed as it is merely a repeated attempt to secure Webb, et als conviction. The judgment acquitting Webb, et al is final and can no longer be disturbed. WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES for lack of merit complainant Lauro G. Vizcondes motion for reconsideration dated December 28, 2010. For essentially the same reason, the Court DENIES the motions for leave to intervene of Fr. Robert P. Reyes, Sister Mary John R. Mananzan, Bishop Evangelio L. Mercado, and Dante L.A. Jimenez, representing the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and of former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Jr. No further pleadings shall be entertained in this case. SO ORDERED. ROBERTO A. ABAD Associate Justice