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LEVISTE vs. CA, G.R. No.

189122, March 17, 2010



FACTS: Jose Antonio Leviste was charged with the murder of Rafael de las Alas however, he was convicted by the Regional Trial
Court for the lesser crime of homicide and sentenced an indeterminate penalty of six years and one day of prision mayor as minimum
to 12 years and one day of reclusion temporal as maximum.

Pending appeal, an urgent application for admission to bail was filed due to his advanced age and health condition, and claiming the
absence of any risk or possibility of flight on his part. This however was denied by the Court of Appeals since the petitioner failed to
show that he suffers from ailment of such gravity that his continued confinement during trial will permanently impair his health or put
his life in danger. The Court of Appeals also made a preliminary evaluation of petitioners case and has determined that
no substantial reason to overturn the evidence of petitioners guilt.

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

ISSUE: Whether or not the discretionary nature of the grant of bail pending appeal means that bail should automatically be granted
absent any of the circumstances mentioned in the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court.

Ruling: Negative. Pending appeal of a conviction by the Regional Trial Court of an offense not punishable by
death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, admission to bail is expressly declared to be discretionary.

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

In the first situation, bail is a matter of sound judicial discretion. This means that, if none of the circumstances mentioned in the third
paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 is present, the appellate court has the discretion to grant or deny bail. An application for bail
pending appeal may be denied even if the bail-negating circumstances in the third paragraph of Section 5, Rule 114 are absent.

In the second situation, the appellate court exercises a more stringent discretion, that is, to carefully ascertain whether any of the
enumerated circumstances in fact exists. If it so determines, it has no other option except to deny or revoke bail pending appeal.

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

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