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G.R. No.

159098 October 27, 2006


SPS. HENRY and ROSARIO UY, petitioners, vs.
HON. JUDGE ARSENIO P. ADRIANO, in his capacity as Pairing Judge of RTC, Br. 64, Tarlac City,
CITY PROSECUTOR ALIPIO C. YUMUL and PIAKAMASARAP CORP., respondents.
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Challenged in this instant Petition for Review on Certiorari is the Decision1 of the Court of
Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 62103 which affirmed the Orders of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
of Tarlac City2 denying the motion to quash the Information in Criminal Case Nos. 6512-94.
Based on a confidential information that petitioner Henry Uy had been engaged in
manufacturing, delivering, and selling "fake" Marca Pia soy sauce,3 Orlando S. Bundoc,
Intelligence Officer II of the Economic Intelligence and Investigation Bureau (EIIB), applied for a
search warrant4 for unfair competition which was granted on February 14, 1994. When the
search warrant was implemented on even date, Atty. Francisco R. Estavillo, agent of the National
Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Tarlac, seized fifty-five (55) bottles of label Marca Pia soy
sauce.5
Consequently, a criminal complaint was filed in the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Tarlac City on
March 23, 1994, charging petitioner Henry Uy with violation of Article 189 (Unfair Competition) of
the Revised Penal Code.6
On November 8, 1994, private respondent Piakamasarap Corporation moved to amend the
criminal charge by including Henry's spouse, petitioner Rosario Uy.7 The court granted the
motion in its Order dated November 15, 1994 and admitted the amended criminal complaint
which reads:
The undersigned, LUIS E. GONZALES, Comptroller of PIAKAMASARAP CORPORATION of 583 Sta.
Veronica St., Novaliches, Quezon City, and by authority of the said corporation, under oath
accuses HENRY UY, ROSARIO GUTIERREZ UY and a certain JOHN DOE of Violation of Article 189 of
the Revised Penal Code, committed as follows:
That on or about February 14, 1994, and for sometimes (sic) prior thereto, in Municipality of
Tarlac, Tarlac, Philippines, the said Rosario G. Uy accused, being then the owner of a business
establishment with principal address at Phase I, Northern Hills Subdivision, San Vicente, Tarlac,
Tarlac, and her co-accused, husband, HENRY UY, and a certain John Doe, did then and there,
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously conspire and confederate together and help one another
engaged in unfair competition with the intention of deceiving and defrauding the public in
general and the consuming public in general and PIAKAMASARAP Corporation, the manufacturer
and bottler of soy sauce under the name "MARCA PIA," a [trademark] duly registered with the
Philippine Patent Office and sell or offer for sale soy sauce manufactured by them with the brand
name "Marca Pia" which is a bastard version of the trademark, and using the bottles of
Piakamasarap Corporation and substituted the contents thereof with those manufactured by the
accused and passing to the public that said products to be the products of Piakamasarap
Corporation which is not true, thereby inducing the public to believe that the above-mentioned
soy sauce sold or offered for sale by said accused are genuine "MARCA PIA" soy sauce
manufactured by PIAKAMASARAP CORPORATION, and of inferior quality to the damage and
prejudice of the Piakamasarap Corporation.
Contrary to law.
Tarlac, Tarlac, November 8, 1994.8
After preliminary examination of the prosecution witnesses, the court found probable cause to
indict petitioners.9 On January 30, 1995, the court issued a warrant of arrest against
petitioners.10 They were released after posting a cash bond on February 1, 1995.11 On July 10,
1995, petitioners were arraigned, assisted by counsel, and pleaded not guilty to the charge.12
Petitioners, through counsel, waived the pre-trial conference on October 25, 1995. The initial trial
was set on November 27, 1995.13
However, it was only on February 26, 1996 that the first witness of the prosecution, Atty. Estavillo
of the NBI, testified. In the meantime, in October 1996, this Court issued Administrative Order
(A.O.) No. 104-96 providing, inter alia, that the RTC shall have exclusive jurisdiction over
violations of Articles 188 and 189 of the Revised Penal Code and Republic Act (R.A.) No. 166, as
amended, thus:
VIOLATIONS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS SUCH AS, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, VIOLATIONS
OF ART. 188 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE (SUBSTITUTING AND ALTERING TRADEMARKS, TRADE
NAMES, OR SERVICE MARKS), ART. 189 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE (UNFAIR COMPETITION,
FRAUDULENT REGISTRATION OF TRADEMARKS, TRADE NAMES, OR SERVICE MARKS, FRAUDULENT
DESIGNATION OF ORIGIN, AND FALSE DESCRIPTION), P.D. NO. 49 (PROTECTION OF INTELLECTUAL
PROPERTY RIGHTS), P.D. NO. 87 (AN ACT CREATING THE VIDEOGRAM REGULATORY BOARD), R.A.
NO. 165, AS AMENDED (THE PATENT LAW), AND R.A. NO. 166, AS AMENDED (THE TRADEMARK
LAW) SHALL BE TRIED EXCLUSIVELY BY THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE
ESTABLISHED RAFFLE SCHEME EXCEPT THOSE COVERED BY ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 113-95
DATED 2 OCTOBER 1995, IN WHICH CASE, THE DESIGNATED REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS SHALL
CONTINUE TO OBSERVE THE PROVISIONS THEREIN.
CONSIDERING THAT JURISDICTION FOR VIOLATIONS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
HEREINBEFORE MENTIONED IS NOW CONFINED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURTS,
THE DESIGNATION OF METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURTS AND MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURTS IN CITIES
UNDER ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 113-95 IS DELETED AND WITHDRAWN.
Despite the administrative order of the Court, the MTC continued with the trial. Gloria P. Tomboc,
Analyst of the Bureau of Food and Drugs Administration (BFAD), testified on August 25, 1997. In
the meantime, Articles 188 and 189 of the Revised Penal Code were amended by R.A. No. 8293,
otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Code. Two years thereafter, Alfredo Lomboy,
supervisor of Piakamasarap Corporation, testified on August 30, 1999.
On December 12, 1999, the prosecution filed its formal offer of evidence.14 In the meantime, on
October 22, 1999, Atty. Joselito L. Lim had moved to withdraw his appearance as counsel for
petitioners;15 the court had granted the motion on October 25, 1999;16 and the new counsel of
petitioners, Balbastro and Associates, had entered its appearance on November 24, 1999.17
On February 15, 2000, the court resolved to admit the documentary evidence of the prosecution
except Exhibit "E" which was rejected by the court, and Exhibits "I" and "J" which were
withdrawn.18 The prosecution rested its case.
On March 10, 2000, petitioners, through their new counsel, filed a Motion for Leave to File
Demurrer to Evidence.19 The court granted the motion. In their demurrer,20 petitioners argued
that a judgment of acquittal is proper since no sufficient evidence was presented to prove
beyond reasonable doubt that they are guilty of the offense charged. The prosecution was not
able to establish that they gave their goods the general appearance of another manufacturer or
dealer and that they had the intent to defraud the public or Piakamasarap Corporation.
Moreover, under both R.A. No. 166, as amended, and its repealing law, R.A. No. 8293, the RTC
had jurisdiction over the crime charged; hence, the amended complaint should be quashed.
The prosecution opposed the demurrer to evidence, contending that it had presented proof
beyond reasonable doubt of the guilt of petitioners for the crime charged. The prosecution
maintained that, under Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 129, the MTC had jurisdiction over the crime
charged in the light of the imposable penalty for unfair competition under Article 189 of the
Revised Penal Code.21
In its Resolution dated May 16, 2000,22 the court held that there was prima facie evidence
which, if unrebutted or not contradicted, would be sufficient to warrant the conviction of
petitioners. However, the court ruled that the RTC was vested by law with the exclusive and
original jurisdiction to try and decide charges for violation of R.A. No. 166 as amended by R.A. No.
8293. Accordingly, the court denied the demurrer to evidence and ordered the records of the
case forwarded to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor for appropriate action.
The City Prosecutor forwarded the case records to the Clerk of Court of RTC, Br. 63, Tarlac City.23
On June 19, 2000, the RTC ordered the City Prosecutor to conduct the requisite preliminary
investigation and to file the necessary Information if he found probable cause against petitioners.
The City Prosecutor found probable cause based on the findings of the MTC in its May 16, 2000
Resolution that there was a prima facie case against petitioners.24 He filed an Information in the
RTC on July 18, 2000 for violation of Article 189 of the Revised Penal Code.25 The Information
reads:
That on or about February 14, 1994 and sometime prior thereto, at Tarlac City, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, being the owner of a business establishment
with principal address at Phase I, Northern Hills Subd., San Vicente, Tarlac City, the accused,
conspiring, confederating and helping one another did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, in unfair competition with the intention of deceiving and defrauding the public in
general and the PIAKAMASARAP CORPORATION, the name "MARCA PIA," and sell or offer for
sale soy sauce manufactured by them with the brand name "Marca Pia," which is a version of
the trademark, and using the bottles of Piakamasarap Corporation and substituted the contents
thereof with those manufactured by the accused and passing to the public the products, thereby
inducing the public to believe that the soy sauce sold or offered for sale by the accused are
genuine "MARCA PIA" soy sauce, to the damage and prejudice of PIAKAMASARAP
CORPORATION.
CONTRARY TO LAW.26
Petitioners filed a Motion to Quash the Information,27 alleging that their rights to due process
and speedy trial had been violated. Other than the notice of hearing sent by the court, they
never received a subpoena which required them to submit their evidence during a preliminary
investigation. Petitioners further averred that certain delays in the trial are permissible,
especially when such delays are due to uncontrollable circumstances or by accident. In this case,
the inordinate delay was obviously brought by the lackadaisical attitude taken by the prosecutor
in prosecuting the case. Petitioners pointed out that there was already a delay of six (6) long
years from the time the initial complaint was filed, and that they had already been prejudiced.
Their life, liberty and property, not to mention their reputation, have been at risk as there has
been no determination of the issue of whether or not to indict them. Thus, the case should be
dismissed in order to free them from further capricious and oppressive dilatory tactics of the
prosecution. Indeed, their right to a speedy trial is part of due process, both of which are
guaranteed by no less than the fundamental law itself. They insisted that they should not be
made to unjustly await the prosecution of the charges against them.
In opposition, the City Prosecutor clarified that subpoenas were sent to the parties during the
preliminary investigation. In fact, petitioner Henry Uy appeared and submitted the case for
resolution without submitting additional evidence. Also, the proceedings in the MTC were not part
of preliminary investigation but the trial on the merits.28
On September 8, 2000, the court issued an Order denying the motion to quash.29 The court
ruled that:
While there must have been a protracted trial since the case was originally filed before the
Municipal Trial Court, a period of about six (6) years, as the accused contends, nevertheless the
delay if any, is partly attributable to the accused. [They] allowed the prosecution to rest the
evidence in chief before raising the issue of lack of jurisdiction. Had the accused immediately
raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction, this case could have been filed anew before the RTC. The
accused allowed themselves to be arraigned without raising the issue of jurisdiction. In fact, the
prosecution [had] rested its evidence in chief.
The parties may[,] however[,] stipulate in the pre-trial that all the proceedings taken before the
Municipal Trial Court are automatically reproduced and are considered part of the prosecution's
evidence, so that the trial will now be with respect to the reception of defense evidence.30
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the Order31 which the trial court denied.32 At the
same time, the court granted the oral motion of the prosecution to amend the Information to
reflect in its caption that the law violated by the accused is R.A. No. 8293 and not Article 189 of
the Revised Penal Code. On October 12, 2000, the City Prosecutor filed an amended Information.
The inculpatory portion reads:
That on or about February 14, 1994 and sometimes prior thereto, at Tarlac City, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, being the owner of a business establishment
with principal address at Phase I, Northern Hills Subd., San Vicente, Tarlac City, the accused,
conspiring, confederating and helping one another did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously, in Violation of Sec. 168 of R.A. No. 8293 with the intention of deceiving and
defrauding the public in general and the PIAKAMASARAP CORPORATION, the name "MARCA
PIA," and sell or offer for sale soy sauce manufactured by them with the brand name "Marca
Pia," which is a version of the trademark, and using the bottles of Piakamasarap Corporation
and substituted the contents thereof with those manufactured by the accused and passing to the
public the products, thereby inducing the public to believe that the soy sauce sold or offered for
sale by the accused are genuine "MARCA PIA" soy sauce, to the damage and prejudice of
PIAKAMASARAP CORPORATION.
CONTRARY TO LAW.33
Petitioners then filed before the CA a petition for certiorari with prayer for temporary restraining
order and preliminary injunction,34 on the sole ground that respondent judge committed grave
abuse of discretion in denying their motion to quash based on violation of their right to a speedy
trial. They claimed that there was no active effort on their part to delay the case as they merely
attended the scheduled hearings and participated in the preliminary investigation. On the
contrary, it is the prosecution that has the unmitigated obligation to immediately file the
Information with the proper court. The public prosecutor is supposedly knowledgeable of the
existing laws and jurisprudence since his office has the delicate task of prosecuting cases in
behalf of the State. Under the Rules on Criminal Procedure, he is the officer responsible for the
direction and control of criminal prosecutions. In the case at bar, the public prosecutor failed in
his bounden duty by neglecting to file the case in the court of competent jurisdiction. The
prosecution could not advance a single reason to justify the procedural error and instead pointed
its accusing finger to petitioners who are just ordinary citizens. Their failure to call the attention
of the prosecution is neither acquiescence nor consent on their part. While their former lawyer
was obviously lackluster in their defense, the act of the counsel should not deprive them of their
constitutional right to a speedy trial. For petitioners, the prosecution's blunder in procedure and
ignorance of existing laws and jurisprudence far outweigh whatever minimal participation, if any,
they had in the protracted proceedings.
On March 21, 2003, the CA dismissed the petition.35 The fallo of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.
The Orders dated September 8, 2000 and October 9, 2000 of the public respondent are hereby
DISMISSED.36
In dismissing the petition, the appellate court ratiocinated that:
[T]he right to a speedy disposition of a case, like the right to speedy trial, is deemed violated
only when the proceeding is attended by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays" (Castillo v.
Sandiganbayan, 328 SCRA 69, 76); "or when unjustified postponements of the trial are asked for
and secured, or when without cause or justifiable motive a long period of time is allowed to
elapse without the party having his case tried." (Binay v. Sandiganbayan, 316 SCRA 65, 93)
In the instant case, aside from the fact that it took almost six years for the prosecution to
complete the presentation of its evidence, petitioners failed to show that the delay, if ever there
is any, was caused solely by the prosecution. Neither did the petitioners show that the
proceedings before the Municipal Trial Court was attended by vexatious, capricious and
oppressive delays attributable to the prosecution or that unjustified postponements of the trial
were asked for and secured by the prosecution to the prejudice of the petitioners. The fact alone
that the prosecution had consumed six (6) years to complete its presentation of evidence,
without any allegation or proof that the prosecution has caused unreasonable delays or that the
proceeding was attended by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays, to Our minds is not
sufficient for the application upon the petitioners of their Constitutional right to speedy trial. "A
mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved, therefore, would not be sufficient. In the
application of the Constitutional guarantee of the right to speedy disposition of cases, particular
regard must also be taken of the facts and circumstances peculiar to each case." (Binay v.
Sandiganbayan, supra, p. 93). In the case at bar, petitioners failed to present, for Our perusal,
the circumstances attending the trial of their case before the Municipal Trial Court.
The only controversy of the instant case lies in the fact that the Municipal Trial Court which heard
the case has no jurisdiction over the said case. While it may be conceded that the prosecution
erred in not filing the information against the petitioners to a proper court, still, petitioners are
not blameless in this regard. Petitioners, through their counsel, had actively participated in the
proceedings before the Municipal Trial Court. Petitioners had to wait for almost six (6) years to
elapse before they brought to the attention of the Municipal Trial Court that it had no jurisdiction
to hear the case against the petitioners. Petitioners have, by reason of their participation in the
proceedings before the Municipal Trial Court and also by reason of their silence and inaction,
allowed the Municipal Trial Court to proceed with a case for six (6) years despite absence of
jurisdiction of such court to hear the case. We cannot allow the petitioners to reap from their acts
or omissions. "A litigation is not a game of technicalities in which one, more deeply schooled and
skilled in the subtle art of movement and position, entraps and destroys the other." (Fortune
Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 229 SCRA 355, 364)
"The constitutional privilege was never intended as furnishing a technical means for escaping
trial." (Esguerra v. Court of First Instance of Manila, et al., 95 Phil. 609, 611-612) "The right of an
accused to a speedy trial is guaranteed to him by the Constitution, but the same shall not be
utilized to deprive the State of a reasonable opportunity of fairly indicting criminals. It secures
rights to an accused, but it does not preclude the rights of public justice. (Domingo v.
Sandiganbayan, 322 SCRA 655, 667)37
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, which the appellate court denied.38
Petitioners sought relief from this Court on a petition for review, alleging that:
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO
LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT AFFIRMED THE COURT A QUO'S DENIAL OF
PETITIONERS' MOTION TO QUASH, BASED ON VIOLATION OF THEIR RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL (SEC.
16, ART. 3, 1987 CONSTITUTION).39
Petitioners reiterate their arguments in the CA to support the present petition. They aver that:
In this case, the prosecution took six (6) long and grueling years before it filed an Information
with a competent court, despite the fact that jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts over
trademark cases remained unchanged since the birth of the Trademark Law. Surely, this
inordinate delay can be considered a "vexatious, capricious and oppressive delay" which is
constitutionally impermissible in this jurisdiction pursuant to the right of the accused to speedy
trial.
Indeed, petitioners have been prejudiced. Their lives, liberty and property, not to mention their
reputation have all been put at risk for so long.
The public prosecutor failed to explain the reason for the delay. Truth to tell, even at this last
stage, the public prosecutor chooses to remain silent why it had unjustifiably taken him too long
to file this case before a competent court. Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals deliberately
ignored this glaring flaw committed by the public prosecutor and instead focused on petitioners'
alleged negligence in not raising the issue of jurisdiction earlier. It further ruled that due to this
fact, petitioners are thus not entirely blameless for the delay of the trial.
Truth to tell, these findings of the Court of Appeals are palpably erroneous.
Firstly, it is elementary that jurisdiction over the subject matter may be raised at any stage of the
proceedings. This is because no amount of waiver can confer jurisdiction on a court over an
offense for which such jurisdiction has not been conferred by law in the first place.
Secondly, even assuming that petitioners failed to raise the issue of jurisdiction earlier, still, they
could not be estopped from invoking their right to speedy trial. The delay to be considered
"partly attributable" to the accused (which could work against him in invoking the right to speedy
trial) presupposes an active effort of the defendant to delay the case (Manabat v. Timbang, 74
Phil. 295). There is no violation of the right to speedy trial where the delay is imputable to the
accused (Solis v. Agloro, 63 SCRA 370). Here, it was the prosecution that had the unmitigated
obligation to file the Information with the correct court, within a reasonable time. It did not. Such
blunder was fatal to its cause.
To emphasize, petitioners need not even call the attention of the prosecution that it had failed to
file the case with the proper court, contrary to the opinion of the Court of Appeals. x x x40
xxxx
Although petitioners agree with the Court of Appeals that mere mathematical reckoning of time
would not be sufficient for the application of the right to speedy trial, still, the public prosecutor's
blunder should already be considered "vexatious, capricious and oppressive" warranting the
dismissal of the case.
Indeed, to condone the public prosecutor's manner of having directed this case, just like what the
Court of Appeals did, might give rise to a disturbing precedent where the constitutional right of
the accused could very well be set aside to justify the mishandling of the prosecution by officers
of the State.41
Section 1(h), Rule 115 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that the accused is
entitled to a speedy, impartial and public trial. Section 2, Rule 119 of the said Rules provides that
trial, once commenced, shall be continuous until terminated:
Sec. 2. Continuous trial until terminated; postponements. Trial, once commenced, shall
continue from day to day as far as practicable until terminated. It may be postponed for a
reasonable period of time for good cause.
The court shall, after consultation with the prosecutor and defense counsel, set the case for
continuous trial on a weekly or other short-term trial calendar at the earliest possible time so as
to ensure speedy trial. In no case shall the entire trial period exceed one hundred eighty (180)
days from the first day of trial, except as otherwise authorized by the Supreme Court.
The time limitations provided under this section and the preceding section shall not apply where
special laws or circulars of the Supreme Court provide for a shorter period of trial.
However, any period of delay resulting from a continuance granted by the court motu proprio, or
on motion of either the accused or his counsel, or the prosecution, if the court granted the
continuance on the basis of its findings set forth in the order that the ends of justice is served by
taking such action outweigh the best interest of the public and the accused on a speedy trial,
shall be deducted.
The trial court may grant continuance, taking into account the following factors:
(a) Whether or not the failure to grant a continuance in the proceeding would likely make a
continuation of such proceeding impossible or result in a miscarriage of justice; and
(b) Whether or not the case taken as a whole is so novel, unusual and complex, due to the
number of accused or the nature of the prosecution, or that it is unreasonable to expect
adequate preparation within the periods of time established therein.
In addition, no continuance under section 3(f) of this Rule shall be granted because of congestion
of the court's calendar or lack of diligent preparation or failure to obtain available witnesses on
the part of the prosecutor.42
Under the Constitution and Section 1(7) of Rule 115 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure,
the accused shall be entitled to have a speedy and impartial trial. "Speedy trial" is a relative
term and necessarily a flexible concept.43 In determining whether the right of the accused to a
speedy trial was violated, the delay should be considered, in view of the entirety of the
proceedings.44 Indeed, mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved would not suffice45
as the realities of everyday life must be regarded in judicial proceedings which, after all, do not
exist in a vacuum.46
Apart from the constitutional provision and Section 115, Section 1(i) of the Rules of Criminal
Procedure, A.O. No. 113-95 of the Court provides that:
The trial of cases for violation of Intellectual Property Rights covered by this Administrative Order
shall be immediately commenced and shall continue from day to day to be terminated as far as
practicable within sixty (60) days from initial trial. Judgment thereon shall be rendered within
thirty (30) days from date of submission for decision.
More than a decade after the 1972 leading U.S. case of Barker v. Wingo47 was promulgated, this
Court, in Martin v. Ver,48 began adopting the "balancing test" to determine whether a
defendant's right to a speedy trial has been violated. As this test necessarily compels the courts
to approach speedy trial cases on an ad hoc basis, the conduct of both the prosecution and
defendant are weighed apropos the four-fold factors, to wit: (1) length of the delay; (2) reason for
the delay; (3) defendant's assertion or non-assertion of his right; and (4) prejudice to defendant
resulting from the delay.49 None of these elements, however, is either a necessary or sufficient
condition; they are related and must be considered together with other relevant circumstances.
These factors have no talismanic qualities as courts must still engage in a difficult and sensitive
balancing process.50
A. Length of the Delay
The length of delay is to some extent a "triggering mechanism." Until there is some delay, which
is presumptively prejudicial, there is no necessity to inquire into the other three factors.
Nevertheless, due to the imprecision of the right to a speedy trial, the length of delay that will
provoke such an inquiry is necessarily dependent upon the peculiar circumstances of the case.51
B. Reason for the Delay
Under Section 9, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the accused have the
burden to prove the factual basis of the motion to quash the Information on the ground of denial
of their right to a speedy trial.52 They must demonstrate that the delay in the proceedings is
vexatious, capricious, and oppressive; or is caused by unjustified postponements that were asked
for and secured; or that without cause or justifiable motive, a long period of time is allowed to
elapse without the case being tried.53 On the other hand, the prosecution is required to present
evidence establishing that the delay was reasonably attributed to the ordinary processes of
justice, and that petitioners suffered no serious prejudice beyond that which ensued after an
inevitable and ordinary delay.54
The records bear out the contention of petitioners that there had been a considerable delay in
the trial in the MTC. Upon motion/agreement of petitioners and the prosecution, or because of
the joint absences, the trial of the case was delayed for more than 11 months.55 In its own
instance, the MTC also reset some of the trial dates in order to correct mistakes in scheduling or
because the witnesses were not duly notified,56 thus, delaying the trial of the case for an
additional seven months. Even petitioners contributed to the delay of more than five months
they or their former counsel were either absent or moved for postponements to attend another
pending case or due to health concerns.57 The delay of about 21 months, covering 15 re-
settings, can be attributed to the prosecution. However, except in five instances, when the trial
was reset because the private prosecutor had to attend to some professional58 and personal
matters,59 the delays were brought about because of the recent engagement of legal service,60
absence of the public prosecutor,61 and unavailability of documents62 and witnesses.63
Not only the petitioners but the State as well were prejudiced by the inordinate delay in the trial
of the case. It took the prosecution more than four years to rest its case after presenting only
three witnesses. Had the prosecution, petitioner and the trial court been assiduous in avoiding
any inordinate delay in the trial, the prosecution could have rested its case much earlier. The
court even failed to order the absent counsel/prosecutor/witnesses to explain/justify their
absences or cite them for contempt. The speedy trial mandated by the Constitution and the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure is as much the responsibility of the prosecution, the trial
court and petitioners to the extent that the trial is inordinately delayed, and to that extent the
interest of justice is prejudiced.
The case before the RTC should not be dismissed simply because the public prosecution did not
move for the dismissal of the case in the MTC based on A.O. No. 104-96 declaring that the RTC
has exclusive jurisdiction over cases under Articles 188 and 189 of the Revised Penal Code; or for
failure of the MTC to motu proprio dismiss the case on that ground. The City Prosecutor then
believed in good faith, albeit erroneously, that under R.A. No. 7691 which amended B.P. Blg. 129,
the MTC had jurisdiction over the crime charged.
The mistake of the City Prosecutor and the failure of the MTC to dismiss the case motu proprio
should not prejudice the interest of the State to prosecute criminal offenses and, more
importantly, defeat the right of the offended party to redress for its grievance. Significantly,
petitioners do not attribute to the prosecution or to the MTC any malice aforethought or
conscious disregard of their right to a speedy trial; nor have substantially proven the same by
clear and convincing evidence. Hence, absent showing of bad faith or gross negligence, delay
caused by the lapse of the prosecution is not in itself violative of the right to a speedy trial.
Different weights should be assigned to various reasons by which the prosecution justifies the
delay. A deliberate attempt to delay the trial in order to hamper the defense should be weighed
heavily against the prosecution. A more neutral reason such as negligence or overcrowded courts
should be weighed less heavily but nevertheless should be considered since the ultimate
responsibility for such circumstances must rest with the government rather than with
defendant.64
In Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan,65 the Court had carefully balanced the societal interest in the case,
which involved the so-called "tax credit certificates scam," and the need to give substance to the
defendants' constitutional rights. In said suit, we upheld the decision of the Sandiganbayan
(Special Fourth Division) that the dismissal of the cases was too drastic, precipitate and
unwarranted. While the Court recognized that defendants were prejudiced by the delay in the
reinvestigation of the cases and the submission of a complete report by the Ombudsman/Special
Prosecutor to the Sandiganbayan, we underscored that the State should not be prejudiced and
deprived of its right to prosecute cases simply because of the ineptitude or nonchalance of the
Ombudsman/Special Prosecutor. "An overzealous or precipitate dismissal of a case may enable
defendant, who may be guilty, to go free without having been tried, thereby infringing the
societal interest in trying people accused of crimes by granting them immunization because of
legal error."66
The same observation was made in Valencia v. Sandiganbayan.67 Here, the Court noted the
haphazard manner by which the prosecutor handled the litigation for the State when he rested
the case without adducing evidence for the prosecution and simply relying on the Joint
Stipulation of Facts, which the accused did not even sign before its submission to the
Sandiganbayan. In allowing the prosecution to present additional evidence and in dismissing the
claim of the accused that his constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated, we ruled:
As significant as the right of an accused to a speedy trial is the right of the State to prosecute
people who violate its penal laws. The right to a speedy trial is deemed violated only when the
proceeding is attended by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays x x x [T]o erroneously put
premium on the right to speedy trial in the instant case and deny the prosecution's prayer to
adduce additional evidence would logically result in the dismissal of the case for the State. There
is no difference between an order outrightly dismissing the case and an order allowing the
eventual dismissal thereof. Both would set a dangerous precedent which enables the accused,
who may be guilty, to go free without having been validly tried, thereby infringing the interest of
the society.68
Certainly, the right to speedy trial cannot be invoked where to sustain the same would result in a
clear denial of due process to the prosecution. It should not operate in depriving the State of its
inherent prerogative to prosecute criminal cases or generally in seeing to it that all those who
approach the bar of justice is afforded fair opportunity to present their side.69 For it is not only
the State; more so, the offended party who is entitled to due process in criminal cases.70 In
essence, the right to a speedy trial does not preclude the people's equally important right to
public justice.71 Thus, as succinctly decreed in State v. McTague:72
The constitutional and statutory provisions for a speedy trial are for the protection of the
defendant, but that does not mean that the state is the only one that may initiate action. There
is really no reason for the courts to free an accused simply because a dilatory prosecutor has
'gone to sleep at the switch' while the defendant and his counsel rest in silence. These solicitous
provisions are not to be used as offensive weapons, but are for the benefit of defendants who
claim their protection. They are a shield, and they 'must not be left hanging on the wall of the
armory.' It is for the protection of personal rights, not to embarrass the administration of the
criminal law nor to defeat public justice.
Be that as it may, the conduct of the City Prosecutor and the MTC must not pass without
admonition. This Court must emphasize that the State, through the court and the public
prosecutor, has the absolute duty to insure that the criminal justice system is consistent with due
process and the constitutional rights of the accused. Society has a particular interest in bringing
swift prosecutions, and the society's representatives are the ones who should protect that
interest. The trial court and the prosecution are not without responsibility for the expeditious trial
of criminal cases. The burden for trial promptness is not solely upon the defense. The right to a
speedy trial is constitutionally guaranteed and, as such, is not to be honored only for the vigilant
and the knowledgeable.73
C. Petitioners' Assertion of the Right
The assertion of the right to a speedy trial is entitled to strong evidentiary weight in determining
whether defendant is being deprived thereof. Failure to claim the right will make it difficult to
prove that there was a denial of a speedy trial.74
Except in only one instance in this case,75 the records are bereft of any evidence that
petitioners, through counsel, have bothered to raise their objection to the several re-setting of
the trial dates. This is not unexpected since, as already shown, the reasons for the delay are not
in themselves totally inexcusable or unreasonable. Moreover, petitioners actively participated in
the trial when the prosecution presented its evidence, as they scrutinized the documentary
evidence and cross-examined the witnesses. Until the filing of the motion to quash in the RTC,
they never contested the prosecutorial proceedings nor timely challenged the pendency of the
case in the MTC.
While it is true that lack of jurisdiction may be assailed at any stage of the proceedings, such
defense must be seasonably raised at the earliest possible opportunity. Otherwise, active
participation in the trial would estop a party from later challenging such want of jurisdiction.76
In the same vein, one's failure to timely question the delay in the trial of a case would be an
implied acceptance of such delay and a waiver of the right to question the same. Except when
otherwise expressly so provided, the speedy trial right, like any other right conferred by the
Constitution or statute, may be waived when not positively asserted.77 A party's silence may
amount to laches.78 The right to a speedy trial is a privilege of the accused. If he does not claim
it, he should not complain. R.A. No. 8493 (Speedy Trial Act of 1998) is a means of enforcing
Section 14(2), Article III of the Constitution.79 The spirit of the law is that the accused must go
on record in the attitude of demanding a trial or resisting delay. If he does not do this, he must be
held, in law, to have waived the privilege.
This Court cannot subscribe to petitioners' untiring argument that, being "ordinary citizens," they
should not be made to suffer from the "lackluster" performance of their former counsel who
failed to recognize the MTC's want of jurisdiction. Too often we have held that a client is bound by
the acts, mistakes or negligence of his counsel.80 This is, as it should be, since a counsel has the
implied authority to do all acts which are necessary or, at least, incidental to the prosecution and
management of the suit in behalf of his client. Any act performed within the scope of his general
and implied authority is, in the eyes of the law, regarded as the act of the client.81 If the rule
were otherwise, there would be no end to litigation so long as a new counsel could be employed
who would allege and show that the prior counsel had not been sufficiently diligent, experienced,
or learned.82 It would enable every party to render inutile an adverse order or decision through
the simple expedient of alleging gross negligence on the part of the counsel.83 Every
shortcoming of a counsel could be the subject of challenge by his client through another counsel
who, if he is also found wanting, would likewise be disowned by the same client through another
counsel, and so on ad infinitum.84 Proceedings would then be indefinite, tentative and at times,
subject to reopening by the simple subterfuge of replacing counsel.85
While the rule admits of certain exceptions,86 we find none present in this case. Other than his
obvious failure to assert lack of jurisdiction, Atty. Lim undeniably represented the cause of his
clients in the MTC proceedings. Interestingly, their new counsel, wittingly or unwittingly, raised
the issue of jurisdiction only four months after it entered its appearance,87 thus, adding to the
delay.
D. Prejudice to the Petitioners
In the Barker case,88 the different interests of a defendant which may be affected by the
violation of the right to a speedy trial were identified. It was held that prejudice should be
assessed in the light of the interests of a defendant which the speedy trial right was designed to
protect, namely: (1) to prevent oppressive pretrial incarceration; (2) to minimize anxiety and
concern of the accused; and (3) to limit the possibility that the defense will be impaired. Of
these, the most serious is the last, because the inability of a defendant to adequately prepare his
case skews the fairness of the entire system. If witnesses die or disappear during a delay, the
prejudice is obvious. There is also prejudice if defense witnesses are unable to recall accurately
events of the distant past. Loss of memory, however, is not always reflected in the record
because what has been forgotten can rarely be shown. Even if an accused is not incarcerated
prior to trial, he is still disadvantaged by restraints on his liberty and by living under a cloud of
anxiety, suspicion, and often hostility.89 After all, arrest is a public act that may seriously
interfere with the defendant's liberty, whether he is free on bail or not, and that may disrupt his
employment, drain his financial resources, curtail his associations, subject him to public obloquy,
and create anxiety in him, his family and friends.90
Again, a perusal of the records failed to reveal that the delay in bringing petitioners to trial in a
court of competent jurisdiction caused them any prejudice tantamount to deprivation of their
right to a speedy trial. Petitioners in this case were not subjected to pretrial incarceration,
oppressive or otherwise, thus eliminating the first Barker consideration bearing on prejudice.
As to the minimization of anxiety and concern of the accused, there is no showing that
petitioners suffered undue pressures in this respect. Mere reference to a general asseveration
that their "life, liberty and property, not to mention reputation" have been prejudiced is not
enough. There must be conclusive factual basis, as this Court cannot rely on pure speculation or
guesswork. Surely, a pending criminal case may cause trepidation but, as stressed in Barker, the
standard here is minimization, not necessarily elimination of the natural consequences of an
indictment. While this is not to be brushed off lightly, it is not by itself sufficient to support a
claim of denial of the right to a speedy trial.
There is no factual basis for the claim of petitioners that we are not supplied with any specific
allegation in the record, nor witnesses or evidence may become unavailable because of the
delays in this case. To repeat, the claim of impairment of defense because of delay must be
specific and not by mere conjecture. Vague assertions of faded memory will not suffice. Failure to
claim that particular evidence had been lost or had disappeared defeats speedy trial claim.
As neither the specific types of prejudice mentioned in Barker nor any others have been brought
to the Court's attention, we are constrained to dismiss petitioners' claim. The passage of time
alone, without a significant deprivation of liberty or impairment of the ability to properly defend
oneself, is not absolute evidence of prejudice. The right to a speedy trial is not primarily intended
to prevent prejudice to the defense caused by the passage of time; that interest is protected
primarily by the due process clause and the statutes of limitations.91
In several cases where it is manifest that due process of law or other rights guaranteed by the
Constitution or statutes has been denied, this Court has not faltered to accord the so-called
"radical relief" to keep accused from enduring the rigors and expense of a full-blown trial.92 In
this case, however, there appears no persuasive, much less compelling, ground to allow the
same relief for absence of clear and convincing showing that the delay was unreasonable or
arbitrary and was seasonably objected to by petitioners.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The March 21,
2003 Decision and July 17, 2003 Resolution of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. The Regional
Trial Court, Branch 64, Tarlac City, is directed to proceed with the trial on the merits of the
criminal case with all reasonable and judicious dispatch consistent with the right of petitioners to
a speedy trial. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
A.M. No. 01-4-03-SC September 13, 2001
RE: REQUEST FOR LIVE RADIO-TV COVERAGE OF THE TRIAL IN THE SANDIGANBAYAN OF THE
PLUNDER CASES AGAINST FORMER PRESIDENT JOSEPH E. ESTRADA
SECRETARY OF JUSTICE HERNANDO PEREZ, KAPISANAN NG MGA BRODKASTER NG PILIPINAS,
CESAR SARINO, RENATO CAYETANO, and ATTY. RICARDO ROMULO, petitioners,
vs.
JOSEPH E. ESTRADA and INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES,oppositors.
RESOLUTION
MENDOZA, J.:
This is a motion for reconsideration of the decision denying petitioners' request for permission to
televise and broadcast live the trial of former President Estrada before the Sandiganbayan. The
motion was filed by the Secretary of Justice, as one of the petitioners, who argues that there is
really no conflict between the right of the people to public information and the freedom of the
press, on the one hand, and, on the other, the right of the accused to a fair trial; that if there is a
clash between these rights, it must be resolved in favor of the right of the people and the press
because the people, as the repository of sovereignty, are entitled to information; and that live
media coverage is a safeguard against attempts by any party to use the courts as instruments
for the pursuit of selfish interests.
On the other hand, former President Joseph E. Estrada reiterates his objection to the live TV and
radio coverage of his trial on the ground that its allowance will violate the sub judice rule and
that, based on his experience with the impeachment trial, live media coverage will only pave the
way for so-called "expert commentary" which can trigger massive demonstrations aimed at
pressuring the Sandiganbayan to render a decision one way or the other. Mr. Estrada contends
that the right of the people to information may be served through other means less distracting,
degrading, and prejudicial than live TV and radio coverage.1wphi1.nt
The Court has considered the arguments of the parties on this important issue and, after due
deliberation, finds no reason to alter or in any way modify its decision prohibiting live or real time
broadcast by radio or television of the trial of the former president. By a vote of nine (9) to six (6)
of its members,1 the Court denies the motion for reconsideration of the Secretary of Justice.
In lieu of live TV and radio coverage of the trial, the Court, by the vote of eight (8) Justices,2 has
resolved to order the audio-visual recording of the trial.
What follows is the opinion of the majority.lawphil.net
Considering the significance of the trial before the Sandiganbayan of former President Estrada
and the importance of preserving the records thereof, the Court believes that there should be an
audio-visual recording of the proceedings. The recordings will not be for live or real time
broadcast but for documentary purposes. Only later will they be available for public showing,
after the Sandiganbayan shall have promulgated its decision in every case to which the recording
pertains. The master film shall be deposited in the National Museum and the Records
Management and Archives Office for historical preservation and exhibition pursuant to law.4
For the purpose of recording the proceedings, cameras will be inconspicuously installed in the
courtroom and the movement of TV crews will be regulated, consistent with the dignity and
solemnity of the proceedings. The trial shall be recorded in its entirety, except such portions
thereof as the Sandiganbayan may decide should not be held public pursuant to Rule 119, 21 of
the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. No comment shall be included in the documentary
except annotations which may be necessary to explain certain scenes which are depicted. The
audio-visual recordings shall be made under the supervision and control of the Sandiganbayan or
its Division as the case may be.
There are several reasons for such televised recording.1awphil.net First, the hearings are of
historic significance. They are an affirmation of our commitment to the rule that "the King is
under no man, but he is under God and the law." (Quod Rex non debet esse sub homine, sed sub
Deo et Lege.) Second, the Estrada cases involve matters of vital concern to our people who have
a fundamental right to know how their government is conducted. This right can be enhanced by
audio visual presentation. Third, audio-visual presentation is essential for the education and civic
training of the people.
Above all, there is the need to keep audio-visual records of the hearings for documentary
purposes. The recordings will be useful in preserving the essence of the proceedings in a way
that the cold print cannot quite do because it cannot capture the sights and sounds of events.
They will be primarily for the use of appellate courts in the event a review of the proceedings,
rulings, or decisions of the Sandiganbayan is sought or becomes necessary. The accuracy of the
transcripts of stenographic notes taken during the trial can be checked by reference to the tapes.
On the other hand, by delaying the release of the tapes for broadcast, concerns that those taking
part in the proceedings will be playing to the cameras and will thus be distracted from the proper
performance of their roles -- whether as counsel, witnesses, court personnel, or judges -- will be
allayed. The possibility that parallel trials before the bar of justice and the bar of public opinion
may jeopardize, or even prevent, the just determination of the cases can be minimized. The
possibility that judgment will be rendered by the popular tribunal before the court of justice can
render its own will be avoided.
At the same time, concerns about the regularity and fairness of the trial -- which, it may be
assumed, is the concern of those opposed to, as much as of those in favor of, televised trials -
will be addressed since the tapes will not be released for public showing until after the decision
of the cases by the Sandiganbayan. By delaying the release of the tapes, much of the problem
posed by real time TV and radio broadcast will be avoided.
Thus, many important purposes for preserving the record of the trial can be served by audio-
visual recordings without impairing the right of the accused to a fair trial.
Nor is the right of privacy of the accused a bar to the production of such documentary. In Ayer
Productions Pty. Ltd. V. Capulong,5 this Court set aside a lower court's injunction restraining the
filming of "Four Day Revolution," a documentary film depicting, among other things, the role of
then Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile in the 1986 EDSA people power. This Court
held: "A limited intrusion into a person's privacy has long been regarded as permissible where
that person is a public figure and the information sought to be elicited from him or to be
published about him constitute matters of a public character."6
No one can prevent the making of a movie based on the trial. But, at least, if a documentary
record is made of the proceedings, any movie that may later be produced can be checked for its
accuracy against such documentary and any attempt to distort the truth can thus be averted.
Indeed, a somewhat similar proposal for documentary recording of celebrated cases or causes
clbres was made was made way back in 1971 by Paul Freund of the Harvard Law School. As he
explained:
In fairness let me refer to an American experience many of my lay friends found similarly
moving. An educational television network filmed a trial in Denver of a Black Panther leader on
charges of resisting arrest, and broadcast the document in full, in four installments, several
months after the case was concluded -- concluded incidentally, with a verdict of acquittal.
No one could witness the trial without a feeling of profound respect for the painstaking way in
which the truth was searched for, for the ways whereby law copes with uncertainties and
ambiguities through presumptions and burden of proof, and the sense of gravity with which
judge and jury carried out their responsibilities.
I agree in general with the exclusion of television from the courtroom, for the familiar good
reasons. And yet the use of television at a trial for documentary purposes, not for the broadcast
of live news, and with the safeguards of completeness and consent, is an educational experiment
that I would be prepared to welcome. Properly safeguarded and with suitable commentary, the
depiction of an actual trial is an agency of enlightenment that could have few equals in its
impact on the public understanding.
Understanding of our legal process, so rarely provided by our educational system, is now a
desperate need.7
Professor Freund's observation is as valid today as when it was made thirty years ago. It is
perceptive for its recognition of the serious risks posed to the fair administration of justice by live
TV and radio broadcasts, especially when emotions are running high on the issues stirred by a
case, while at the same time acknowledging the necessity of keeping audio-visual recordings of
the proceedings of celebrated cases, for public information and exhibition, after passions have
subsided.
WHEREFORE, an audio-visual recording of the trial of former President Estrada before the
Sandiganbayan is hereby ordered to be made, for the account of the Sandiganbayan, under the
following conditions: (a) the trial shall be recorded in its entirety, excepting such portions thereof
as the Sandiganbayan may determine should not be held public under Rule 119, 21 of the Rules
of Criminal Procedure; (b) cameras shall be installed inconspicuously inside the courtroom and
the movement of TV crews shall be regulated consistent with the dignity and solemnity of the
proceedings; (c) the audio-visual recordings shall be made for documentary purposes only and
shall be made without comment except such annotations of scenes depicted therein as may be
necessary to explain them; (d) the live broadcast of the recordings before the Sandiganbayan
shall have rendered its decision in all the cases against the former President shall be prohibited
under pain of contempt of court and other sanctions in case of violations of the prohibition; (e) to
ensure that the conditions are observed, the audio-visual recording of the proceedings shall be
made under the supervision and control of the Sandiganbayan or its Division concerned and shall
be made pursuant to rules promulgated by it; and (f) simultaneously with the release of the
audio-visual recordings for public broadcast, the original thereof shall be deposited in the
National Museum and the Records Management and Archives Office for preservation and
exhibition in accordance with law.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 143561 June 6, 2001
JONATHAN D. CARIAGA, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES and DAVAO LIGHT and POWER CO.,
respondents.
GONZAGA-REYES, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari seeking the reversal of the decision1 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 13363 entitled People v. Jonathan Cariaga, promulgated on April 24, 1995
affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 11,2 which convicted
petitioner Jonathan Cariaga of the crime of Qualified Theft.
In an amended Information3 dated October 3, 1989, petitioner was charged with qualified theft
as follows:
"That sometime during the period from October, 1988 to January, 1989, in the City of Davao,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-mentioned accused,
being then an employee of Davao Light & Power Co. Inc., Davao City, and as such has access to
the said company, with intent to gain, with grave abuse of confidence and without the
knowledge and consent of the owner thereof, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously take, steal and carry away electrical equipment, supplies and materials totaling
P7,038.96 belonging to Davao Light & Power Company, to the damage and prejudice of the said
company, in the aforesaid amount of P7,038.96.
Contrary to law."
The factual background of this case as summarized by the trial court and adopted by the Court of
Appeals is as follows:
"Luis Miguel Aboitiz, employed at the time of the incident in question and for sometime prior
thereto as Systems Analyst of the Davao Light & Power Company, Inc. (DLPC), whose duty was to
devise systems, procedures or controls to promote efficiency, prevent losses due to waste,
pilferage or theft of company property, etc., received reports that some private electricians were
engaged in the clandestine sale of DLPC materials and supplies. He initiated a covert operation
with the following objectives: (1) ascertain how DLPC materials were being stolen, the frequency
of the thefts, who were perpetrating the thefts; and (2) `catch' at least one (1) DLPC employee
that may be involved.
In October, 1988, he sought the assistance of Sgt. Fermin Villasis, Chief, Theft & Robbery Section,
San Pedro Patrol Station, Davao METRODISCOM. He also hired one Florencio Siton, a welder by
occupation and a Civilian Home Defense Forces (CHDF) member, as his undercover agent under
the pseudonym 'Canuto Duran', an 'electrician from Kabakan, Cotabato.'
'Canuto Duran' struck an acquaintance with one Ricardo Cariaga, a private electrician, at the
Miguel Store, situated in front of the DLPC office along Ponciano Reyes (now Bangoy) Street,
Davao City. He told Ricardo that his boss ordered him to buy electrical materials to be brought to
Diwalwal, a gold panning area in Monkayo, Davao (formerly Davao del Norte).
Ricardo offered to supply 'Canuto Duran' with electrical materials, saying that he has a cousin
from whom he can procure the same. 'Canuto' purchased small electrical wires which, according
to Ricardo, came from his cousin, Jonathan Cariaga, nicknamed Totoy.
On November 17, 1988, Ricardo introduced 'Canuto' to Jonathan at Miguel Store. It turned out
that Jonathan was the assigned driver of DLPC Service Truck 'S-143' assigned to Work Gang
'Venus'. 'Canuto' inquired from Jonathan if he could supply him with two (2) 15 KVA transformers.
Jonathan replied that he could for P16,000. 'Canuto' placed an order for the transformers. The
deal did not materialize, however, as 'Canuto's' boss (Miguel Aboitiz) who would provide the
funds happened to be out of town. Jonathan appeared piqued. To appease him, 'Canuto' assured
him that they shall continue their 'business' relationship. Not long after, he placed an order for a
lightning arrester. Ricardo, Jonathan and 'Canuto' agreed to meet at the corner of Jacinto and
Arellano Streets.
Jonathan got DLPC Truck 'S-143' which was inside the DLPC Compound at Ponciano Reyes Street
and drove it to the designated meeting place, leaving 'Canuto' and Ricardo at Miguel Store. After
a while, Ricardo and 'Canuto' followed. On the way, 'Canuto gave Ricardo P1,800. At the meeting
place, Ricardo gave the money to Jonathan, after which the latter got a lightning arrester (Exh.
M) from his truck's toolbox and handed it to Ricardo, who, in turn gave it to 'Canuto'.
On January 23, 1989, Ricardo accompanied 'Canuto' to Jonathan's house at Doa Pilar Village,
Sasa, Davao City, to get a roll of Electrical Wire No. 2 (300 meters long) valued P5,010 (Exh. J)
and 2 lightning arresters with cutout, valued P1,185.75 each, or P2,371.50 for both (Exhs. I and I-
1) from Jonathan. 'Canuto' paid P2,500.00 only for the items. He gave the money to Ricardo;
Ricardo, in turn, gave it to Jonathan.
Siton's undercover work came to an abrupt end on February 1, 1989 when members of Sgt.
Villasis' team 'apprehended' 'Canuto' and turned him over, including the electrical wires that he
previously purchased from Jonathan through Ricardo, to the San Pedro Patrol Station. The team
was unable to arrest Ricardo as he had already left when the team arrived at his house. 'Canuto
Duran' 'confessed' in order to persuade Ricardo and the others who were involved to likewise
come out with the truth. Thus, when Ricardo and Sergio Jamero appeared at the San Pedro Patrol
Station on the invitation of the police, they confessed to their crimes (Exhs. A and G,
respectively).
Ricardo revealed that he acted as a fence for his cousin, Jonathan Cariaga and 'Canuto Duran' on
November 27, 1988 and again on January 23, 1989; that the items that 'Canuto Duran' bought
from Jonathan, thru him, were DLPC properties.
Jamero also confessed that Ricardo was his fence in disposing of DLPC electrical materials that
he pilfered but the items were not sold to 'Canuto Duran' but to someone else.
The recitals of Ricardo and Jamero in their sworn statements are substantially corroborated by
entries in the Daily Record of Events (blotter) of the San Pedro Patrol Station (Exhs. B, B-1; C, C-1;
D, D-1; E, E-1; and F, F-1).
The accused was also invited to the San Pedro Patrol Station but, according to Sgt. Villasis, he
refused to give a statement.
The prosecution was unable to present Ricardo as its witness as the subpoena could not be
personally served upon him as according to his wife, Antonieta Cariaga, he was in Sultan Kudarat
and the date of his return to Davao City was not certain (Exhs. Y, Y-1).
Acting on the extrajudicial confessions of the suspects, the reports of Siton to the police and the
bust, the team under Sgt. Villasis recovered the following items:
1. 1 pc. Lightning Arrester MEW Valve Type V (Exh. "I");
2. 1 pc. Lightning Arrester MEW Valve Type (Exh. "I-1");
3. 1 pc. Lightning Arrester MEW Thorex Type (unmarked);
4. 1 pc. Fuse Cut-out S&C Brand with Bracket (unmarked);
5. 1 pc. Fuse Cut-out with Fuse Holder, AB Chance (Exh. "M");
6. 1 roll (330 meters) Aluminum Wire No. 8 (Exh. "K");
7. 1 roll (300 meters) Aluminum Wire No. 2 (Exh. "J");
8. 1 roll (36 coils) Aluminum Wire No. 6; ) One of these
9. 1 roll (74 coils) Aluminum Wire No. 8; ) rolls is
10. 1 roll (41 coils) Aluminum Wire No. 2; ) marked Exh.
11. 1 set bracket for cut-out. ) "AA"
Sgt. Villasis testified that Exh. "U" and Exh. "AA" were the wires recovered from Siton during the
bust while the rest, particularly Exhs. "I" and "I-1" "J" and "M" were recovered at Roselo Toledo's
house where Siton ("Canuto Duran") brought them; x x x."4
According to the trial court, "the prosecution's evidence considered as a whole is strong, clear
and convincing. The statements in the extrajudicial confessions of Ricardo Cariaga (Exhs. A; O,O-
1) implicative of the accused as the source of the stolen articles, corroborated by Siton's
testimony and the police records (Exhs. D to F-2, inclusive) are formidable compared to the mere
puny denial of the accused."
In due course, the trial court on November 18, 1991, rendered judgment, the decretal portion
reading:
"WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Jonathan Cariaga guilty beyond reasonable doubt of theft,
qualified by grave abuse of confidence, under Article 310, in relation to Article 309, par. 2, of the
Revised Penal Code, as charged, aggravated by the use of motor vehicle which is not offset by
any mitigating circumstance. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, he is sentenced to suffer
an indeterminate penalty ranging from TEN (10) Years, EIGHT (8) MONTHS AND ONE (1) DAY, of
prision mayor, as minimum, to EIGHTEEN (18) YEARS, TWO (2) MONTHS AND TWENTY ONE (21)
DAYS of reclusion temporal, as maximum; and to pay the costs.
No civil indemnity is awarded to DLPC, the private complainant, as the items stolen were
recovered. The return to DLPC of all the items recovered by the police is ordered.
SO ORDERED."5
On appeal by Jonathan Cariaga, the Court of Appeals affirmed on April 24, 1995, the decision of
the trial court. The Court of Appeals reasoned out that the sworn statement of Ricardo Cariaga
who did not testify in open court during the criminal proceedings against petitioner is admissible
in evidence and properly considered by the trial court as this was annexed as part of DLPC's
position paper submitted to the National Labor Relations Commission in Case No. RAB-11-05-
00308-89, a complaint filed by the accused for illegal dismissal, as an exception to the hearsay
rule under Section 47, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Court. The Court of Appeals likewise
upheld the credibility of Siton's testimony which corroborated that of Ricardo Cariaga's sworn
statement.
Hence, the instant petition raising the following errors:
"I The trial court erred in admitting in evidence the sworn statement of Ricardo Cariaga without
him taking the witness stand since it violates the fundamental right of the accused to meet the
witnesses against him face to face. Hence, Ricardo Cariaga's sworn statement is not admissible
under Section 1(f), Rule 115 of the Revised Rules of Court for failure of the prosecution to comply
with the strict requirements of said rule, to wit:
a] Ricardo Cariaga did not orally testify in the labor case;
b] Inability to testify must be for a grave cause almost amounting to death and the prosecution
must exhaust all available remedies to secure the presence of its witnesses at the trial;
c] That the former proceeding must also be criminal in nature.
II. The appellate court erred in holding that the lone testimony of the prosecution's alleged
eyewitness who is a paid witness and whose testimony was admittedly corrected or revised on
the witness stand and which materially and significantly varies with his previous sworn
statement on very vital and pivotal details is sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused beyond
reasonable doubt.
III.The appellate court erred in failing to appreciate the reasonable doubt engendered by the
exculpatory statements of the superiors of the accused in favor of the latter."6
In his first assignment of error, petitioner argues that the sworn statement of Ricardo Cariaga
who was not presented in court is inadmissible. The prosecution presented in evidence as Exh. P-
2, Ricardo Cariaga's sworn statement which was attached as Annex "8-A" to DLPC's position
paper in the labor case filed by Jonathan Cariaga against the latter for illegal dismissal. The trial
court admitted the same in evidence despite the timely objection of the defense counsel; and the
Court of Appeals upheld the admission thereof citing as basis, Section 47, Rule 130 of the Rules
on Evidence and Section 1(f), Rule 115 of the Rules on Criminal Procedure.
Section 47 of Rule 130 reads:
SEC. 47. Testimony or deposition at a former proceeding. The testimony or deposition of a
witness deceased or unable to testify, given in a former case or proceeding, judicial or
administrative, involving the same parties and subject matter, may be given in evidence against
the adverse party who had the opportunity to cross-examine him.
More specific however is the rule prescribed in Rule 115, Section 1(f) of the Rules of Court in
respect of the admissibility in evidence in a criminal case of the previous testimony of
unavailable witnesses which reads:
Section 1. Rights of accused at the trial. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be
entitled:
f) To confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him at the trial. Either party may utilize
as part of its evidence the testimony of a witness who is deceased, out of or can not with due
diligence be found in the Philippines, unavailable or otherwise unable to testify, given in another
case or proceeding, judicial or administrative, involving the same parties and subject matter, the
adverse party having had the opportunity to cross-examine him;
In Toledo, Jr. vs. People,7 this Court emphasized that "the preconditions set forth in Section 47,
Rule 130 for the admission of testimony given by a witness out of court must be strictly complied
with and that there is more reason to adopt such a strict rule in the case of Section 1(f) of Rule
115, for apart from being a rule of evidence with additional specific requisites to those prescribed
by Section 47, more importantly, said provision is an implementing translation of the
constitutional right of an accused person "to meet the witnesses (against him) face to face." In
Tan vs. Court of Appeals,8 it was ruled that "'unable to testify' or for that matter 'unavailability',
does not cover the case of witnesses who were subpoenaed but did not appear. It may refer to
inability proceeding from a grave cause, almost amounting to death, as when the witness is old
and has lost the power of speech. It does not refer to tampering of witnesses."
The threshold question then is the admissibility of the sworn statement of Ricardo Cariaga which
was attached to DLPC's position paper in the labor case filed by Jonathan Cariaga against it for
illegal dismissal.
The records reveal that witness Ricardo Cariaga was subpoenaed only once and did not appear
to testify in the criminal case against petitioner. Concededly, this witness was not deceased or
out of the Philippines. In fact, the private prosecutor informed the court that he is in Sultan
Kudarat,9 and previously, his wife informed the sheriff that he was in Sultan Kudarat which is in
Cotabato, a mere four hours drive from Davao City. Against this backdrop, can this witness be
categorized as one that cannot be found despite due diligence, unavailable or unable to testify.
We are inclined to rule in the negative and reverse the Court of Appeals on this point.
It must be emphasized that this rule is strictly complied with in criminal cases, hence, "mere
sending of subpoena and failure to appear is not sufficient to prove inability to testify. The Court
must exercise its coercive power to arrest."10 In the instant case, no efforts were exerted to have
the witness arrested which is a remedy available to a party-litigant in instances where witnesses
who are duly subpoenaed fail to appear. On this score alone, the sworn statement of Ricardo
Cariaga should not have been admitted as evidence for the prosecution, and we shall no longer
delve into the other aspects of this rule.
In his second assignment of error, petitioner assails the testimony of prosecution witness
Florencio Siton alias "Canuto Duran", the undercover agent, as not credible because it is
allegedly inconsistent in very material and pivotal details from the sworn statement he made at
the police station and that he is admitted by the prosecution to be a paid witness. According to
petitioner, Siton's testimony was overhauled and corrected to meet the crisis created by
eyewitness Ricardo Cariaga's non-appearance in court. Petitioner argues further that Siton had
thousands of reasons to vary or exaggerate or pervert the truth in his testimony because he
admitted that he was given by DLPC through Mr. Aboitiz, a 15 KVA transformer worth P15,000.00
to P18, 000.00 and he also admitted on cross-examination that "after the hearing he (Mr. Aboitiz)
will hire me as an employee or that he will give me privilege."
He alleges that Siton never mentioned in his sworn statement that he bought anything directly
from petitioner and only stated that the latter was around when he bought some wires and
lightning arresters from Bondying and Bebing Tumali, and then claimed on the witness stand that
he had direct dealings with petitioner. Siton also failed to state in his sworn statement that he
went to the house of petitioner to purchase DLPC materials; and he mentioned therein that the
arrangement was that the materials will be delivered three days after payment, but in his
testimony, the materials were delivered upon payment.
As we have so frequently ruled, the trial judge who sees and hears witnesses testify has
exceptional opportunities to form a correct conclusion as to the degree of credit which should be
accorded their testimonies.11 Next, the rule has also always been that the contradictions
between the contents of an affiant's affidavit and his testimony on the witness stand do not
always militate against the witness' credibility because we have long taken judicial notice that
affidavits, which are usually taken ex parte, are often incomplete and inaccurate.12 Indeed, a
sworn statement taken ex parte is generally considered to be inferior to a testimony given in
open court as the latter is subject to the test of cross examination.13
We have carefully gone over the records and evidence in this case and we are persuaded that
Siton's testimony in court deserves credence. We further find the same sufficient for conviction.
Siton was consistent and straightforward in his testimony and had not been shaken by the
lengthy and exhaustive cross-examination by the defense counsel. Having thoroughly convinced
the trial and appellate courts as well as this Court of the truth of his testimony, we do not see
how he could have fabricated the entire story. The fact that he stated on direct examination that
he "corrected" his statement and that he was offered compensation for his undercover work does
not necessarily discredit him. There is no rule of evidence to the effect that omission of certain
particulars in a sworn statement would estop an affiant from making an elaboration thereof or
from correcting inaccuracies during the trial. It appears that he was paid for his services
rendered as an undercover agent and not for purposes of concocting a story and imputing a
crime as that made out in the information. Similarly, the alleged inaccuracies in the testimony of
Siton in open court relating to such minute details as whether the petitioner's house was two-
stories high and located in a corner are too negligible to consider.
Finally, we reject petitioner's claim that the testimonies of three witnesses for the prosecution,
namely, Sauro, Saligan and Aboitiz, engendered reasonable doubt sufficient to exculpate him. He
points out that "Rodolfo Sauro, gang crew supervisor of petitioner testified that he has not
reported any missing materials in the truck driven by the petitioner; that Luis Aboitiz testified
that he asked Estelito Saligan to conduct investigation if there were materials missing `but the
latter came out with the report that he could not find any missing materials'; and that Estelito
Saligan, head of Materials Management Department of the DLPC confirmed on cross-examination
that there were no properties lost or missing."
However, a more accurate reading of the testimonies of the said witnesses reveals that Rodolfo
Sauro14 testified that petitioner is permanently assigned as driver to the S-143 truck; that he is
in charge of all the equipment and supplies stored in the truck; that there were always reserve
materials kept in the truck for emergency operations during the night and that he trusted him
that these materials were being used for emergencies.15 He also testified that he took
Jonathan's word that the reserve materials were used for emergencies because he found him
trustworthy.16 On the other hand, Engr. Estelito Saligan was recalled to the witness stand to
clarify Mr. Aboitiz's statement that "he was ordered to make inventories and that he did not find
any missing." He clarified that he only inventoried the materials inside the warehouse which are
within his jurisdiction, but he did not conduct inventory of materials or properties already in the
possession of the operations department17 of which petitioner belonged to. In sum, nothing in
the cited testimonies confirm petitioner's insistence that there were no stolen electrical supplies
and materials from DLPC.
In fine, we are satisfied that the participation of the petitioner in the commission of the crime at
bar was well established by the testimony of witness Siton. In the determination of the
sufficiency of evidence, what matters is not the number of witnesses but their credibility and the
nature and quality of their testimonies.18 It is axiomatic that witnesses are weighed, not
numbered and the testimony of only one witness, if credible and positive and if it satisfies the
court beyond reasonable doubt, is sufficient to convict. The inadmissibility of Ricardo Cariaga's
sworn statement as discussed above will not exculpate him.
The defense, verily, anchors itself on the bare denial of petitioner of the specific acts imputed by
the prosecution against him. Certainly, this negative assertion cannot prevail over the
unimpeached testimony of the prosecution witness, Florencio Siton alias "Canuto Duran"
describing in sufficient detail the active participation of petitioner in the commission of the crime
charged. As aptly observed by the trial court:
"The accused's defense consisted of a general denial; that the items alleged by the prosecution
as having been pilfered from DLPC were available in any store selling electrical supplies. Despite
having been positively pointed to as the person who sold small electrical wires, lightning
arresters and a roll of Electrical Wire No. 2 that were pilfered from DLPC to "Canuto Duran"
(Siton), thru Ricardo Cariaga, he did not categorically deny the imputation: he merely declared
that he did not know Siton (he did not say that he did not know "Canuto Duran") nor did he say
that he did not sell anything to "Canuto Duran" thru Ricardo Cariaga. As a rule, positive
testimony as to a particular fact, uncontradicted by anyone, should control the decision of the
court (Ko Tieck vs. People, L-48535-36, Dec. 21, 1991)."
We note that the information alleged that petitioner was an employee of DLPC; that he had
access to the electrical supplies of said company; and that with grave abuse of confidence, he
stole electrical materials belonging to DLPC. The prosecution established that petitioner who was
permanently assigned as driver of Truck "S-143" had charge of all the DLPC equipment and
supplies kept in his vehicle, including lightning arresters, cut-out and wires, which were generally
used for the installation of transformers and power lines; and specifically stored therein for
emergency operations at night when the stockroom is closed. While the mere circumstance that
the petitioner is an employee or laborer of DLPC does not suffice to create the relation of
confidence and intimacy that the law requires to designate the crime as qualified theft, it has
been held that access to the place where the taking took place or access to the stolen items
changes the complexion of the crime committed to that of qualified theft.19 Thus, theft by a
truck driver who takes the load of his truck belonging to his employer is guilty of qualified
theft20as was proven in this case. The trial court correctly considered petitioner's use of a motor
vehicle in the commission of the crime as a generic aggravating circumstance thus raising the
penalty to its maximum.21 While the aggravating circumstance of "by means of motor vehicle"
was not alleged in the information, there is evidence that the same was employed to facilitate
the commission of the crime. A generic aggravating circumstance may be proved even if not
alleged.22 The theft could not have been effected without the aid of the motor vehicle,23 as
proven by the prosecution, the service truck was used in storing and then transporting the stolen
electrical materials to the place where they were sold.1wphi1.nt
We now come to the correctness of the penalty imposed. The trial court meted on petitioner an
indeterminate penalty ranging from ten (10) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day, of prision
mayor, as minimum, to eighteen (18) years, two (2) months and twenty one (21) days of
reclusion temporal as maximum. Since the value of the electrical materials is P7,038.96, the
imposable penalty for the felony of theft is prision correccional in its medium and maximum
periods in accordance with Article 309, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code.24 However,
under Article 310 of the Revised Penal Code,25 the crime of qualified theft is punished by the
penalties next higher by two (2) degrees than that specified in Article 309 of the Revised Penal
Code. Under Article 25 of the Revised Penal Code, two (2) degrees higher than prision
correccional in its medium and maximum periods is prision mayor in its maximum period to
reclusion temporal in its minimum period which is ten (10) years and one (1) day to fourteen (14)
years and eight (8) months. Considering there is one generic aggravating circumstance, the
penalty should be reclusion temporal in its minimum period. Applying the Indeterminate
Sentence Law, the correct penalty is eight (8) years, eight (8) months and one (1) day of prision
mayor as minimum to thirteen (13) years, one (1) month and eleven (11) days of reclusion
temporal as maximum.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals dated April 24, 1995 is hereby AFFIRMED with
the MODIFICATION that the penalty is reduced to EIGHT (8) years, EIGHT (8) months and ONE (1)
day of prision mayor as minimum to THIRTEEN (13) years, ONE (1) month and ELEVEN (11) days
of reclusion temporal as maximum.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 88684 March 20, 1997
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
CESAR LACBANES, accused-appellant.

ROMERO, J.:
For selling marijuana, accused-appellant Cesar Lacbanes was arrested and charged with violating
Section 4, Article II of Republic Act 6425 or the Dangerous Drugs Act. He was convicted by the
Regional Trial Court of Palo, Leyte and sentenced to thirty years' imprisonment. 1 In his appeal
before this Court, he assails his conviction on the ground that entrapment was never clearly
established by the prosecution's evidence.
The prosecution relied on the testimony of PFC Ricardo Rosales, a member of the Narcotics
Section of the Tacloban Police Station who testified that his command received information that
accused-appellant had been peddling marijuana cigarettes in Tacloban City. A buy-bust operation
was then set up after conducting surveillance on the accused-appellant. At around 4:15 p.m. of
October 3, 1986 at the corner of Burgos and Tarcela Streets, Tacloban City, their confidential
agent informed PFC Rosales and his team, composed of Patrolmen Arpon and Buena, Sgt.
Madriaga and Lt. Saranza, that the former made contact with accused-appellant. Thereafter, the
team deployed themselves in the area in such a way as to see clearly the transaction.
According to PFC Rosales, after the conversation of their confidential agent with accused-
appellant, the former handed the latter two P5.00 bills with serial numbers MU80883 and
MU840129. In return, the latter handed sticks of suspected marijuana cigarettes to the former.
Thereupon, the team approached accused-appellant, introduced themselves as members of the
Narcotics Section and arrested him. They found the two P5.00 bills in his possession and
recovered three sticks of suspected marijuana cigarettes. Accused-appellant was brought to the
police station where upon investigation, he allegedly admitted that the marijuana in his
possession was for sale and that a friend of his named Francing was the source of the prohibited
drug. The witness testified that they informed accused-appellant about his constitutional rights
before the investigation and that the latter understood them. However, they allegedly forgot to
put down in writing accused-appellant's admission of guilt. 2
The only other witness for the prosecution was Lt. Liza Madeja-Sabong, a forensic chemist of the
PC Crime Laboratory, who affirmed her own findings and declared in Chemistry Report No. NB-
134-86 3 that the three suspected marijuana cigarettes were positive for marijuana, a prohibited
drug. 4
Accused-appellant flatly denied selling the three sticks of marijuana cigarettes. He testified that
on said date, he was asleep in his house from two o'clock until past four o'clock in the afternoon.
He was awakened by his father who told him that a certain Lieutenant Boy Saranza, together
with Patrolmen Arpon and Buena, would like to take him to the police station to answer some
questions. He denied knowing PFC Rosales and stated that the latter was not with the arresting
group.
At the police station, when asked if he knew the whereabouts of one Cresencio de la Cruz, he
answered in the negative. He also testified that the investigators forced him to affix his signature
on a piece of paper, the contents of which he did not know at the time but which turned out to be
a receipt for property seized. The said receipt showed that the three sticks of marijuana
cigarettes and the two marked P5.00 bills were seized from his possession. He claimed that the
policemen filed this case against him when he could not give any information about NPAs.
He asserted that he had never been charged or convicted of any crime and that he was also a
confidential agent of the Regional Security Unit, as well as a barangay tanod. 5
Another witness, Cpl. Felix Dacut, corroborated accused-appellant's claim that he was a
confidential agent or a civilian informer of the Regional Security Unit. 6 Capt. Manuel Abuda of
the INP, Tacloban City, likewise testified that he knows the accused-appellant to be of good moral
character and that the latter was used in the past as an agent both in buy-bust and sell-bust
operations. 7
On the issue of credibility, Judge Pedro S. Espina held that as between the positive identification
and assertion of the arresting officers and the mere unsubstantiated denial by the accused-
appellant, the former is more worthy of credence. The trial court found the prosecution's
evidence weightier inasmuch as the arresting officers enjoy the presumption of regularity in the
performance of their public functions which has not been rebutted by the defense. Coupled with
the presumption is the lack of any proof of improper motives on their part.
The trial court also found the defense' s version of the incident inherently incredible stating it
was hard to believe that accused-appellant, a barangay tanod and a confidential agent of the
military who reached second year high school, would readily sign a blank sheet of paper
presented to him by the authorities without any protest or objection. Neither did accused-
appellant's introduction of evidence of good character convince the trial court of his innocence as
he was unable to overcome the evidence for the prosecution. 8
In this appeal, accused-appellant contends that the failure of the prosecution to present the
confidential informant-turned poseur-buyer is a violation of his constitutional right to know the
witnesses against him and meet them in court. He also contended that since the testimony of
PFC Rosales revolves around the confidential informant who cannot corroborate the same, said
testimony would be plain hearsay and unworthy of credence. Therefore, the prosecution failed to
establish clearly the fact of entrapment. Moreover, the defense pointed out that although PFC
Rosales, the prosecution's star witness, was within earshot, he did not testify as to the
conversation between the confidential informant and the accused-appellant.
This Court is not persuaded. PFC Rosales did testify that he saw the poseur-buyer and accused-
appellant exchange the two P5.00 bills and the three marijuana sticks. 9 The P5.00 bills were
presented as evidence 10 and a photocopy of the same, the faithful reproduction of which was
admitted by the defense, was likewise proffered in the trial court. 11 The three sticks of
marijuana cigarettes were also presented before the trial court and identified by PFC Rosales as
the ones recovered from the poseur-buyer. 12 This Court held in People v. Vocente 13 that:
The commission of the offense of illegal sale of marijuana requires merely the consummation of
the selling transaction whereby as in this case, the accused handed over the tea bag of
marijuana upon the agreement with the poseur-buyer to exchange it for money. . . . What is
important is the fact that the poseur-buyer received the marijuana from the appellant and that
the contents were presented as evidence in court. Proof of the transaction suffices. The identity
of the tea bag of marijuana which constitutes the corpus delicti was established before the court.
(Emphasis supplied)
In other words, accused-appellant was caught in flagranti delicto. In every prosecution for illegal
sale of dangerous drugs, what is material and indispensable is the submission of proof that the
sale of illicit drug took place between the seller and the poseur-buyer. 14
There was no need to present the poseur-buyer as PFC Rosales witnessed the whole transaction
where the marked money was exchanged for three sticks of marijuana cigarettes. The settled
rule is that the testimony of a lone prosecution witness, as long as it is positive and clear and not
arising from an improper motive to impute a serious offense to the accused, deserves full credit.
15 This Court has ruled in several cases that non-presentation of the informer, where his
testimony would be merely corroborative or cumulative, is not fatal to the prosecution's case. 16
Accused-appellant, on his part, merely denied that he sold the three sticks of marijuana
cigarettes. If he tried to use alibi as defense, he should have presented his father in court to
corroborate his version that he was in the latter's house when he was apprehended.
Accused-appellant, through his statements implied that he was a victim of a "frameup."
However, . . . like alibi, frameup is a defense that has been invariably viewed by the Court with
disfavor as it is a common and standard line of defense in most prosecutions arising from
violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act. Clear and convincing evidence are required to prove the
defense of "frameup" which, unfortunately, are inexistent here. 17
Accused-appellant's claim of a "frameup" is not credible as he gave conflicting motives of the
police authorities therefor. In his direct examination, he claimed that he was framed up by the
policemen because he did not supply them with information regarding NPAs. 18 In the cross-
examination conducted by the prosecution, however, he alleged that the policemen were
retaliating against him for working for the Regional Security Unit instead of for them. 19 Such
failure on the part of the accused-appellant to muster convincing proof of a frameup lends
credence to the version of the prosecution.
In People v. Velasco, 20 this Court held that in the absence of proof of any intent on the part of
police authorities to falsely impute such a serious crime against appellant, as in this case, the
presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty, as well as the doctrine that findings
of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses are entitled to great respect, must prevail over
the self-serving and uncorroborated claim of appellant that she had been framed. Time and
again, this Court has ruled that the findings of the lower court with regard to the credibility of
witnesses are accorded great weight and respect since it had the opportunity to observe the
demeanor of the witnesses as they testified before the court. Unless substantial facts and
circumstances have been overlooked or misunderstood by the latter which, if considered, would
materially affect the result of the case, this Court will undauntedly sustain the findings of the
lower court. 21
The accused-appellant tried to argue on his behalf that no surveillance was conducted before the
buy-bust operation. In People v. Ganguso, 22 it has been held that prior surveillance is not a
prerequisite for the validity of an entrapment operation, especially when the buy-bust team
members were accompanied to the scene by their informant. In the instant case, the arresting
officers were led to the scene by the poseur-buyer. Granting that there was no surveillance
conducted before the buy-bust operation, this Court held in People v. Tranca, 23 that there is no
rigid or textbook method of conducting buy-bust operations. Flexibility is a trait of good police
work. The police officers may decide that time is of the essence and dispense with the need for
prior surveillance.
Additionally, accused-appellant alleged that the marked money was not presented as proof
before the trial court. Contrary to said submission, however, the marked money was presented
as proof during the direct examination of PFC Rosales. 24 The defense even admitted that the
photocopy of the marked money was a faithful reproduction of the ones found in the person of
accused-
appellant. 25 Nonetheless, this Court held that the absence of the marked money does not
create a hiatus in the evidence for the prosecution as long as the sale of the dangerous drugs is
adequately proven and the drug subject of the transaction is presented before the court. 26
This Court cannot, however, accept as evidence the receipt for property seized purportedly
signed by accused-appellant as proof that the three sticks of marijuana cigarettes, as well as the
two P5.00 bills, were seized from him, for the prosecution failed to prove that he was assisted by
counsel at the time. Neither does this Court condone such practice for this is tantamount to an
extra-judicial confession for the commission of the offense.
In People v. Ang Chun Kit, 27 this Court held that "conforme to these documents are declarations
against interest and tacit admissions of the crime charged, since merely unexplained possession
of prohibited drugs is punished by law. They have been obtained in violation of his right as a
person under custodial investigation for the commission of an offense, there being nothing in the
records to show that he was assisted by counsel."
This Court also declared in People v. De Las Marinas, 28 that it is the police officers who
confiscated the same who should have signed such receipt. Undoubtedly, this is a violation of the
constitutional right of appellant to remain silent. Here he was, in effect, made to admit the
commission of the offense without informing him of his right. Such a confession obtained in
violation of the Constitution is inadmissible in evidence.
Nevertheless, while said receipt of property seized is inadmissible in evidence, it was sufficiently
established by the categorical and positive assertions of witnesses as shown in the records, that
indeed accused-appellant committed the offense of selling the three sticks of marijuana
cigarettes.
Accordingly, this Court finds accused-appellant Cesar Lacbanes guilty beyond reasonable doubt
of violating Sec. 4, Art. II, of R.A. 6425, as amended. Under the said provision, the penalty should
have been reclusion perpetua to death and a fine of five hundred thousand pesos to ten million
pesos. With the passage of R.A. 7659, particularly Sec. 13 amending Sec. 4 of R.A. 6425, the
penalty to be imposed shall now depend on the quantity. Since the offense was committed in
1986, the quantity of prohibited drugs involved was immaterial. Inasmuch as the amendatory
provisions are, however, favorable to accused-appellant, they should be given retroactive effect.
Under the provisions of Section 20, Republic Act No. 6425 as last amended by R.A. 7659, which
became effective on December 31, 1993, and as interpreted by this court in the case of People v.
Simon 29 and People v. De
Lara, 30 if the quantity of the marijuana involved is less than 750 grams, the imposable penalty,
in the event that the conviction should be affirmed, shall be within the range of prision
correccional (from six [6] months and one [1] day to six [6] years) to reclusion temporal
depending upon the quantity of marijuana involved.
As in People v. De Lara, 31 there was no evidence of the weight of the three sticks of marijuana
cigarettes seized in the case at bar. Nevertheless, adhering to the doctrine in the earlier case,
this Court resolved the doubt in favor of accused-appellant and concluded that the quantity
involved was: (i) below 750 grams; and (ii) not less than 250 but not more than 499 grams.
Hence, the maximum imposable penalty should be prision mayor and the minimum, prision
correccional.
WHEREFORE, the Decision appealed from is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that accused-
appellant should suffer an indeterminate penalty of FOUR (4) years and Two (2) days of prision
correccional, as minimum, to EIGHT (8) years and ONE (1) day of prision mayor, as maximum.
Since accused-appellant has already served ten years, two months and seventeen days, which is
beyond the maximum penalty imposed for his offense, he is hereby ordered RELEASED
immediately, unless he is being held for some other legal grounds.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 128280 April 4, 2001
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
ALICIA A. CHUA, accused-appellant.
PARDO, J.:
Accused Alicia Chua has appealed from the decision1 of the Regional Trial Court, Manila, Branch
V finding her guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal recruitment committed in large scale and
sentencing her to life imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00, and eight (8) counts of estafa
sentencing her to various penalties therefor.
On October 05, 1993, Assistant City Prosecutor Leocadio H. Ramos, Jr. of Manila filed with the
Regional Trial Court, Manila an information2 against accused Alicia A. Chua reading as follows:
Crim. Case No. 93-127418:
"That in or about and during the period comprised between October 29, 1992 and January 19,
1993, inclusive, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, representing herself to have
the capacity to contract, enlist and transport Filipino workers for employment abroad, did then
and there wilfully, unlawfully, for a fee, recruit and promise employment/job placement abroad to
the following persons, namely: DOMINGO F. TERCENIO, MARTIN B. BERMEJO, EVANGELINE F.
GAVINA, DANTE F. BALUIS, EDUARD V. ESTILLER, EDGAR B. ABONAL, VIOLETA F. REGALADO,
GLORIA J. RICAFRENTE and LONITO F. BALUIS, without first having secured the required license or
authority from the Department of Labor.
"Contrary to law."3
On the same date, the same prosecutor filed with the Regional Trial Court, Manila nine (9) other
informations against the accused for estafa:
Crim. Case No. 93-127419:
"The undersigned accuses ALICIA A. CHUA of the crime of estafa, committed as follows: That on
or about October 29, 1992, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud DOMINGO F. TERCENIO in the following manner, to
wit: the said accused, by means of false manifestations and fraudulent representation which she
made to said DOMINGO F. TERCENIO to the effect that she had the power and capacity to recruit
and employ said DOMINGO F. TERCENIO and could facilitate the processing of the pertinent
papers if given the necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof and by-means of other
similar deceits, induced and succeeded in inducing said DOMINGO F. TERCENIO to give and
deliver, as in fact he gave and delivered to said accused the amount of P15,000.00 on the
strength of said manifestations and representations, said accused well knowing that the same
were false and fraudulent and were made solely to obtain as in fact she did obtain the amount of
P15,000.00 which amount once in her possession with intent to defraud, willfully, unlawfully and
feloniously misappropriated, misapplied and converted to her own personal use and benefit, to
the damage and prejudice of said DOMINGO F. TERCENIO in the aforesaid amount of P15,000.00
Philippine Currency.
"CONTRARY TO LAW."4
Crim. Case No. 93-127420:
"That on or about November 21, 1992, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, did
then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud MARTIN B. BERMEJO in the following
manner, to wit: the said accused, by means of false manifestations and fraudulent representation
which he/they/she made to said MARTIN B. BERMEJO to the effect that she had the power and
capacity to recruit and employ MARTIN BERMEJO in Taiwan and could facilitate the processing of
the pertinent papers if given the necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, and by
means of other similar deceits, induced and succeeded in inducing said MARTIN B. BERMEJO to
give and deliver, as in fact he gave and delivered to said accused the amount of P15,000.00 on
the strength of said manifestations and representations, said accused well knowing that the
same were false and fraudulent and were made solely to obtain, as in fact she did obtain the
amount of P15,000.00 which amount once in her possession with intent to defraud, wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously misappropriated, misapplied and converted to her own personal use
and benefit to the damage and prejudice of said MARTIN B. BERMEJO in the aforesaid amount of
P15,000.00, Philippine Currency.
"CONTRARY TO LAW."5
Crim. Case No. 93-127421:
"That on or about November 6, 1992, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, did then
and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud EVANGELINE F. GAVINA in the following
manner, to wit: the said accused, by means of false manifestations and fraudulent representation
which he/they/she made to said EVANGELINE F. GAVINA to the effect that she had the power and
capacity to recruit and employ EVANGELINE F. GAVINA and could facilitate the processing of the
pertinent papers if given the necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, and by means
of other similar deceits induced and succeeded in inducing said EVANGELINE F. GAVINA to give
and deliver, as in fact she gave and delivered to said accused the amount of P15,000.00 on the
strength of said manifestations and representations, said accused well knowing that the same
were false and fraudulent and were made solely, to obtain, as in fact she did obtain the amount
of P15,000.00 which amount once in her possession with intent to defraud, wilfully, unlawfully
and feloniously misappropriated, misapplied and converted to her own personal use and benefit
to the damage and prejudice of said EVANGELINE P. GAVINA in the aforesaid amount of
P15,000.00, Philippine Currency.1wphi1.nt
"CONTRARY TO LAW."6
Crim. Case No. 93-127422:
"That on or about December 10, 1992, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, did
then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud DANTE F. BALUIS in the following
manner, to wit: the said accused, by means of false manifestations and fraudulent representation
which he/they/she made to said DANTE F. BALUIS to the effect that she had the power and
capacity to recruit and employ DANTE F. BALUIS in Taiwan and could facilitate the processing of
the pertinent papers if given the necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, and by
means of other similar deceits, induced and succeeded in inducing said DANTE F. BALUIS to give
and deliver, as in fact he gave and delivered to said accused the amount of P11,000.00 on the
strength of said manifestations and representations, said accused well knowing that the same
were false and fraudulent and were made solely to obtain, as in fact she did obtain the amount of
P11,000.00 which amount once in her possession with intent to defraud, wilfully, unlawfully and
feloniously misappropriated, misapplied and converted to her own personal use and benefit to
the damage and prejudice of said DANTE G. BALUIS in the aforesaid amount of P11,000.00,
Philippine Currency.
"CONTRARY TO LAW."7
Crim. Case No. 93-127423:
"That on or about November 24, 1992, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, did
then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud EDUARD V. ESTILLER in the following
manner, to wit: the said accused, by means of false manifestations and fraudulent representation
which he/she/they made to said EDUARD V. ESTILLER to the effect that she had the power and
capacity to recruit and employ EDUARD V.' ESTILLER in Taiwan and could facilitate the processing
of the pertinent papers if given the necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, and by
means of other similar deceits, induced and succeeded in inducing said EDUARD V. ESTILLER to
give and deliver, as in fact he/she/they gave and delivered to said accused the amount of
P15,000.00 on the strength of said manifestations and representations, said accused well
knowing that the same were false and fraudulent and were made solely, to obtain, as in fact she
did obtain the amount of P15,000.00 which amount once in her possession, with intent to
defraud, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously misappropriated, misapplied and converted to her
own personal use and benefit to the damage and prejudice of said EDUARD V. ESTILLER, in the
aforesaid amount P15,000.00 Philippine Currency.
"CONTRARY TO LAW."8
Crim. Case No. 93-127424:
"That on or about December 11, 1992, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, did
then and therein wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud EDGAR B. ABONAL in the following
manner, to wit: the said accused, by means of false manifestations and fraudulent representation
which he/she/they made to said EDGAR B. ABONAL to the effect that she had the power and
capacity to recruit and employ EDGAR B. ABONAL in Taiwan and could facilitate the processing of
the pertinent papers if given the necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, and by
means of other similar deceits, induced and succeeded in inducing said EDGAR B. ABONAL to
give and deliver, as in fact he/she/they gave and delivered to said accused the amount of
P15,000.00 on the strength of said manifestations and representations, said accused well
knowing that the same were false and fraudulent and were made solely, to obtain, as in fact she
did obtain the amount of P15,000.00 which amount once in her possession with intent to
defraud, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously misappropriated, misapplied and converted to her
own personal use and benefit to the damage and prejudice of said EDGAR B. ABONAL in the
aforesaid amount P15,000.00 Philippine Currency.
"CONTRARY TO LAW."9
Crim. Case No. 93-127425:
"That on or about, December 10, 1992, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, did
then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud VIOLETA F. REGALADO in the following
manner, to wit: the said accused, by means of false manifestations and fraudulent representation
which he/she/they made to said VIOLETA F. REGALADO to the effect that she had the power and
capacity to recruit and employ VIOLETA F. REGALADO in Taiwan and could facilitate the
processing of the pertinent papers if given the necessary amount to meet the requirements
thereof, and by means of other similar deceits, induced and succeeded in inducing said VIOLETA
F. REGALADO to give and deliver, as in fact he/she/they gave and delivered to said accused the
amount of P15,000.00 on the strength of said manifestations and representations, said accused
well knowing that the same were false and fraudulent and were made solely, to obtain, as in fact
she did obtain the amount of P15,000.00 which amount once in her possession, with intent to
defraud, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously misappropriated, misapplied and converted to her
own personal use and benefit to the damage and prejudice of said VIOLETA F. REGALADO in the
aforesaid amount P15,000.00 Philippine Currency.
"Contrary to law."10
Crim. Case No. 93-127426:
"That on or about January 19, 1993, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, did then
and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud GLORIA J. RICAFRENTE in the following
manner, to wit: the said accused, by means of false manifestations and fraudulent representation
which he/she/they made to said GLORIA J. RICAFRENTE to the effect that she had the power and
capacity to recruit and employ GLORIA J. RICAFRENTE in Taiwan and could facilitate the
processing of the pertinent papers if given the necessary amount to meet the requirements
thereof, and by means of other similar deceits, induced and succeeded in inducing said GLORIA J.
RICAFRENTE to give and deliver, as in fact he/she/they gave and delivered to said accused the
amount of P15,000.00 on the strength of said manifestations and representations, said accused
well knowing that the same were false and fraudulent and were made solely, to obtain, as in fact
she did obtain the amount of P15,000.00 which amount once in her possession, with intent to
defraud, wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously misappropriated, misapplied and converted to her
own personal use and benefit, to the damage and prejudice of said GLORIA J. RICAFRENTE in the
aforesaid amount of P15,000.00, Philippine Currency.
"CONTRARY TO LAW."11
Crim. Case No. 93-127427:
"That on or about October 29, 1992, in the City of Manila, Philippines, the said accused, did then
and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously defraud LONITO F. BALUIS in the following manner,
to wit: the said accused, by means of false manifestations and fraudulent representation which
he/she/they made to said LONITO F. BALUIS to the effect that she had the power and capacity to
recruit and employ LONITO F. BALUIS in Taiwan and could facilitate the processing of the
pertinent papers if given the necessary amount to meet the requirements thereof, and by means
of other similar deceits, induced and succeeded in inducing said LONITO F. BALUIS to give and
deliver, as in fact he/she/they gave and delivered to said accused the amount of P15,000.00 on
the strength of said manifestations and representations, said accused well knowing that the
same were false and fraudulent and were made solely, to obtain, as in fact she did obtain the
amount of P15,000.00 which amount once in her possession, with intent to defraud, wilfully,
unlawfully and feloniously misappropriated, misapplied and converted to her own personal use
and benefit to the damage and prejudice of said LONITO F. BALUIS in the aforesaid amount
P15,000.00, Philippine Currency.
"CONTRARY TO LAW."12
On November 8, 1993, the trial court arraigned the accused. She pleaded not guilty to each
case.13 Trial ensued. The cases were consolidated and tried jointly.
The facts are as follows:
In September 1992, accused. Chua received a facsimile message from Harmony Electronics
Company in Taiwan.14 The message was written in Chinese characters except for the names of
To-ong Zenon Tumenlaco and Tercenio Domingo Fornaliza. Harmony asked her to call up To-ong
and Tercenio and tell them that they were needed in Taiwan. Accused Chua contacted To-ong and
told him the message.15
In October 1992, To-ong and Tercenio went to the office of accused Chua, and the latter told
them that she could send them to Taiwan upon payment of a placement fee of P15,000.00 each.
She also asked them to secure NBI clearances and medical certificates.16 On October 29, 1992,
Tercenio, together with private complainant Lonito Baluis, went back to the office of accused
Chua and submitted the requirements. Tercenio and Lonito Baluis paid P15,000.00 each for which
they were issued a receipt bearing the name Man Tai Trading and General Services with accused
Chua's signature.17
Accused Chua assured Tercenio and Lonito Baluis that they would be able to leave for Taiwan
soon. Three months passed, but they were not deployed. Tercenio became apprehensive and told
accused Chua that he would withdraw his application and ask for refund of the placement fee.
Accused Chua repeatedly promised that she would give back the money to him, but she never
did. After a few more months, Tercenio could not anymore locate accused Chua.18
Accused Chua used the same modus operandi on the other private complainants. After requiring
each complainant to pay a placement fee of P15,000.00 each, to secure NBI clearances and to
undergo medical examinations, she would go in hiding.
In time, complainants inquired from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) about
accused Chua's activities. The POEA issued a certification that accused Chua was not licensed to
recruit persons/workers for overseas employment.19
On October 3, 1995, the trial court promulgated a decision, the dispositive portion 20 of which
reads:
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, Alicia A. Chua is hereby found:
"1) Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Illegal Recruitment committed in large scale
in Criminal Case No. 93-127418 and is therefore sentenced to serve a penalty of life
imprisonment and a fine of P100,000.00;
"2) Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa in Criminal Case No. 93-127419 and is
sentenced to serve indeterminate sentence of four (4) years of prision correccional maximum, as
minimum to six (6) years and eight (8) months of Prision Mayor minimum as maximum, and to
pay the complainant the sum of P15,000.00 plus legal interest from the filing of the case until
fully paid;
"3) Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa in Criminal Case No. 93-127420 and is
sentenced to serve an indeterminate sentence of four (4) years of prision correccional maximum
as minimum to six (6) years and eight (8) months of prision mayor minimum as maximum, and
to pay the complainant the sum of P15,500.00 plus legal interest from the filing of the case until
fully paid;
"4) Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa in Criminal Case No. 93-127421 and is
sentenced to serve an indeterminate sentence of four (4) years of prision correccional maximum
as minimum to six (6) years and eight (8) months of prision mayor minimum as maximum, and
to pay the complainant the sum of P15,500.00 plus legal interest from the filing of the case until
fully paid;
"5) Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa in Criminal Case No. 93-127422 and is
therefore sentenced to serve an indeterminate sentence of six (6) months of Arresto Mayor
maximum, as minimum to two (2) years and eleven (11) months of prision correccional medium,
as maximum, and to pay the complainant the sum of P11,500.00 plus legal interest from the
filing of the case until fully paid;
"6) Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa in Criminal Case No. 93-127423 and is
therefore sentenced to serve an indeterminate sentence of four (4) years of prision correccional
maximum, as minimum to six (6) years and eight (8) months of prision mayor minimum, as
maximum and to pay the complainant the sum of P15,500.00 plus legal interest from the filing of
the case until fully paid;
"7) Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa in Criminal Case No. 93-127425 and is
therefore sentenced to serve an indeterminate sentence of four (4) years of prision correccional
maximum, as minimum to six (6) years and eight (8) months of prision mayor minimum as
maximum, and to pay the complainant the sum of P14,500.00 plus legal interest from the filing
of the case until fully paid;
"8) Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa in Criminal Case No. 93-127426 and is
therefore sentenced to serve indeterminate sentence of four (4) years of prision correccional
maximum, as minimum to six (6) years and eight (8) months of prision mayor minimum as
maximum, and to pay the complainant the sum of P14,500.00 plus legal interest from the filing
of the case until fully paid;
"9) Guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Estafa in Criminal Case No. 93-127427 and is
sentenced to serve indeterminate sentence of four (4) years of prision correccional maximum, as
minimum to six (6) years and eight (8) months of prision mayor minimum as maximum, and to
pay the complainant the sum of P15,000.00 plus legal interest from the filing of the case until
fully paid.
"As earlier stated, Criminal Case No. 93-127424 is dismissed for failure of the prosecution to
adduce evidence.
"SO ORDERED.
"Manila, September 20, 1995.
"(Sgd.) ZEUS C. ABROGAR
"Judge."
Hence, this appeal.21
In her brief, accused-appellant anchors her defense on the approval of her application for a
license to recruit on April 13, 1993, which, according to her, rendered her a genuine holder of
authority. She also claimed that she was denied her constitutional right to compulsory process.22
On the other hand, the Solicitor General contends that appellant was a non-licensee and had no
authority to recruit anyone for overseas employment, and that she failed to proffer any
compelling reason to justify her request for the production of POEA records.23
We find the appeal devoid of merit.
Appellant interposes the defense that the approval of her application for a service contractor's
authority on April 13, 1993 should be given a retroactive effect as to make all her previous
recruitment activities valid. However, this issue was not raised in the trial court. She cannot now
be allowed to raise it for the first time on appeal without offending basic rules of fair play, justice
and due process.24
The records show that the license was not issued due to her failure to comply with post-licensing
requirements.25 It is the issuance of the license which makes the holder thereof authorized to
perform recruitment activities. The law specifically provides that "every license shall be valid for
at least two (2) years from the date of issuance unless sooner cancelled or revoked by the
Secretary.26
Appellant herself admitted that she had no authority to recruit private complainants. thus:
ATTY. MONTERO (to witness):
Q: Now what was the reply of Harmony Electronics Company when you questioned them
about the use of your company?
A: They wrote back to me and they told me that "never mind, we only need Cenon To-ong
and Domingo Tersenio." But I told them that I am not in the position to employ these people
because I am not a licensed agency for that matter and they said that "I would just send you an
authority and show this to the pertaining government agency who could at least send these two
people."
Q: So what did you do after that?
A: I told them to send me something if I can do the way out of it, I will ask anybody from my
colleagues to do the hiring of these people.
Q: Did you ask anybody from your colleagues to do the hiring of these two?
A: I did but Alcamojar was not also licensed.
Q: So what happened after that?
A: I told Cenon because Cenon is much better to understand that, he looked for one company
who could just or whom I can transfer the authority that the Harmony Electronics would be
sending me, so I will just transfer the authority to any agency who could send them back to
Taiwan.27
Appellant cannot now claim that she was a genuine holder of authority from the Secretary of
Labor and Employment to recruit factory workers for Harmony Electronics Company based in
Taiwan.
As to her claim of denial of the constitutional right to compulsory process, we find the same to be
without merit.
The 1973 and 1987 Constitutions expanded the right to compulsory process which now includes
the right to secure the production of evidence in one's behalf.28 By analogy, U.S. vs. Ramirez29
which laid down the requisites for compelling the attendance of witnesses, may be applied to this
expanded concept. Thus, the movant must show: (a) that the evidence is really material; (b) that
he is not guilty of neglect in previously obtaining the production of such evidence; (c) that the
evidence will be available at the time desired; and (d) that no similar evidence could be
obtained.
In the case at bar, the trial court correctly denied appellant's motion for the production of the
records which were the basis in issuing the POEA Certification dated February 3, 1994,30 as the
same would not in any way alter the undisputed fact that appellant was not issued a license until
then.31
WHEREFORE, the Court AFFIRMS the appealed decision in toto, with costs against appellant.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 140285 September 27, 2006
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS (15th Division) and WILFRED N. CHIOK, respondents.
DECISION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
as amended, assailing the Resolution1 dated September 20, 1999 of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. SP No. 53340, entitled "Wilfred N. Chiok, petitioner, v. Hon. Marietta Legazpi, People of the
Philippines, and Rufina Chua, respondents."
The factual antecedents as borne by the records are:
Sometime in 1989, Rufina Chua met respondent Wilfred Chiok. He represented himself as a
licensed stockbroker and an expert in the stock market. He then encouraged Rufina to invest her
money in stocks, requesting her to designate him as her stockbroker. On respondent's prodding,
she agreed.
For several years, respondent acted as Rufina's stockbroker. She made a profit out of their
transactions, prompting her to trust respondent in handling her stock investments.
In 1995, respondent encouraged Rufina to purchase shares in bulk as this will increase her
earning. Hence, in June 1995, she entrusted to him the amount of P9,563,900.00 for the purpose
of buying shares of stocks in bulk. She deposited the amount of P7,100,000.00 in respondent's
account. With respect to the remaining P2,463,900.00, she personally gave it to him. Thereupon,
he told her to wait for one week. A week elapsed, but she did not hear from him. Upon her
inquiry, he advised her to wait for another week, but still there was no news from him. Finally,
when she was able to contact him, he admitted that he spent the money. At any rate, he issued
two checks as payment but when she deposited them in the drawee bank, they were dishonored
for insufficient funds.
In a letter dated October 25, 1995, Rufina demanded payment from respondent, but this
remained unheeded.
Upon inquiry, Rufina came to know that respondent was not a licensed stockbroker but only a
telephone clerk at Bernard Securities, Inc. Immediately, she caused the filing of an information
for estafa against him with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 165, Pasig City, docketed therein as
Criminal Case No. 109927.
During the arraignment, respondent, assisted by his counsel de parte, pleaded not guilty and
posted bail. Trial ensued.
Respondent denied the charge against him. He testified that he was not an employee of Bernard
Securities, Inc.; that he buys and sells U.S. dollars and that Rufina used to buy dollars from him;
that what actually existed between them was an unregistered partnership; and that he received
the amount of P9,563,900.00 as her investment in their partnership.
After the presentation of the parties' evidence, the trial court set the promulgation of judgment
on January 26, 1999. However, respondent and his counsel failed to appear on said date. The
promulgation was re-set to February 1, 1999.
On February 1, 1999, the trial court rendered a Decision convicting respondent of estafa and
sentencing him to suffer twelve (12) years of prision mayor, as minimum, to twenty (20) years of
reclusion temporal, as maximum. During the promulgation of the judgment, respondent and his
counsel failed to appear despite notice. Consequently, the prosecution filed a Motion for
Cancellation of Bail on the ground that there is an indication that respondent might flee or
commit another crime.
On May 28, 1999, the trial court issued an Omnibus Order granting the prosecution's motion,
thus:
WHEREFORE, the bail of the accused is cancelled. The accused is given five (5) days from receipt
of this order within which to surrender before this Court, otherwise his arrest will be ordered.
SO ORDERED.
On June 18, 1999, respondent interposed an appeal from the Decision of the trial court to the
Court of Appeals, docketed therein as CA-G.R. CR No. 23309.
The following day or on June 19, 1999, respondent filed with the Court of Appeals a Special Civil
Action for Certiorari with Very Urgent Application for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and/or
Injunction assailing the trial court's May 28, 1999 Omnibus Order canceling his bail. The petition
was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 53340.
Meanwhile, or on June 25, 1999, the trial court issued a warrant of arrest against respondent for
the reason that "he has not surrendered despite the lapse of the given period (five days) as
provided in the Omnibus Order dated May 28, 1999." The said warrant was returned unserved
because he could not be found at his given address.
Going back to CA-G.R. SP No. 53340, the Court of Appeals issued a TRO enjoining the
implementation of the trial court's Omnibus Order.
Subsequently, in a Resolution dated September 20, 1999, the appellate court issued a writ of
preliminary injunction enjoining the arrest of respondent, holding that the latter should not be
deprived of his liberty pending resolution of his appeal as the offense for which he was convicted
is a non-capital offense; and that the probability of flight by respondent during the pendency of
his appeal is merely conjectural.
Hence, the present petition for review on certiorari. The People of the Philippines, petitioner,
contends that the Court of Appeals committed a grave abuse of discretion in issuing the writ of
preliminary injunction enjoining the arrest of respondent.
Respondent, on the other hand, maintains that the appellate court committed no grave abuse of
discretion when it issued the assailed Resolution of September 20, 1999.
The sole issue here is whether the Court of Appeals erred when it rendered its assailed
Resolution of September 20, 1999 directing the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction
enjoining the arrest of respondent.
The trial court correctly cancelled respondent's bail because of his failure to appear during the
promulgation of judgment despite notice. He violated the condition of his bail that he must
appear before the proper court whenever so required by that court or the Rules.2 Simply stated,
he jumped bail. As such, his arrest, as ordered by the trial court, is proper.3 This is in accordance
with Section 6, Rule 120 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure which provides in part, thus:
SEC. 6. Promulgation of judgment. The judgment is promulgated by reading it in the presence
of the accused and any judge of the court in which it was rendered. x x x
The proper clerk of court shall give notice to the accused personally or through his bondsman or
warden and counsel, requiring him to be present at the promulgation of the decision. x x x
If the judgment is for conviction and the failure of the accused to appear was without justifiable
cause, he shall lose the remedies available in these rules against the judgment and the court
shall order his arrest. Within fifteen (15) days from promulgation of judgment, however, the
accused may surrender and file a motion for leave of court to avail of these remedies. He shall
state the reasons for his absence at the scheduled promulgation and if he proves that his
absence was for a justifiable cause, he shall be allowed to avail of said remedies within fifteen
(15) days from notice. (Underscoring supplied)
The last paragraph of Section 6 quoted above authorizes the promulgation of judgment in
absentia in view of respondent's failure to appear despite notice. It bears stressing that the rule
authorizing promulgation in absentia is intended to obviate the situation where the judicial
process could be subverted by the accused jumping bail to frustrate the promulgation of
judgment.4
Here, respondent tried in vain to subvert the judicial process by not appearing during the
promulgation of judgment. Thus, he lost his remedies against the judgment. In fact, he cannot
challenge successfully the cancellation of his bail by the trial court. The Court of Appeals
certainly erred in enjoining the arrest of respondent. Its declaration that respondent might flee or
commit another crime is conjectural utterly lacks merit. Respondent already demonstrated that
he is a fugitive from justice.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the instant petition. The challenged Resolution of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. SP No. 53340 directing the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction enjoining the
arrest of respondent is REVERSED.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 122954 February 15, 2000
NORBERTO FERIA Y PACQUING, petitioner,
vs.
THE COURT OF APPEALS, DIRECTOR OF THE BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS, MUNTINLUPA, METRO
MANILA (IN PLACE OF THE JAIL WARDEN OF THE MANILA CITY JAIL), THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF
BRANCH II, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MANILA, and THE CITY PROSECUTOR, CITY OF MANILA,
respondents.
QUISUMBING, J.:
The mere loss or destruction of the records of a criminal case subsequent to conviction of the
accused will not render the judgment of conviction void, nor will it warrant the release of the
convict by virtue of a writ of habeas corpus. The proper remedy is the reconstitution of judicial
records which is as much a duty of the prosecution as of the defense.
Subject of this petition for review on certiorari are (1) the Decision dated April 28, 1995, of the
Eighth Division of the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the dismissal of the petition for habeas
corpus filed by petitioner, and (2) the Resolution of the Court of Appeals dated December 1,
1995, which denied the Motion for Reconsideration. As hereafter elucidated, we sustain the
judgment of respondent appellate court.
Based on the available records and the admissions of the parties, the antecedents of the present
petition are as follows:
Petitioner Norberto Feria y Pacquing has been under detention since May 21, 1981, up to
present1 by reason of his conviction of the crime of Robbery with Homicide, in Criminal Case No.
60677, by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 2, for the jeepney hold-up and killing of
United States Peace Corps Volunteer Margaret Viviene Carmona.
Some twelve (12) years later, or on June 9, 1993, petitioner sought to be transferred from the
Manila City Jail to the Bureau of Corrections in Muntinlupa City,2 but the Jail Warden of the Manila
City Jail informed the Presiding Judge of the RTC-Manila, Branch 2, that the transfer cannot be
effected without the submission of the requirements, namely, the Commitment Order or
Mittimus, Decision, and Information.3 It was then discovered that the entire records of the case,
including the copy of the judgment, were missing. In response to the inquiries made by counsel
of petitioner, both the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila and the Clerk of Court of Regional
Trial Court of Manila, Branch 2 attested to the fact that the records of Criminal Case No. 60677
could not be found in their respective offices. Upon further inquiries, the entire records appear to
have been lost or destroyed in the fire which occurred at the second and third floor of the Manila
City Hall on November 3, 1986.4
On October 3, 1994, petitioner filed a Petition for the Issuance of a Writ of Habeas Corpus5 with
the Supreme Court against the Jail Warden of the Manila City Jail, the Presiding Judge of Branch 2,
Regional Trial Court of Manila, and the City Prosecutor of Manila, praying for his discharge from
confinement on the ground that his continued detention without any valid judgment is illegal and
violative of his constitutional right to due process.
In its Resolution dated October 10, 1994,6 the Second Division of this Court resolved
. . . (a) to ISSUE the Writ of Habeas Corpus; (b) to ORDER the Executive Judge of the Regional
Trial Court of Manila to conduct an immediate RAFFLE of this case among the incumbent judges
thereof; and (c) to REQUIRE [1] the Judge to whom this case is raffled to SET the case for
HEARING on Thursday, October 13, 1994 at 8:30 A.M., try and decide the same on the merits and
thereafter FURNISH this Court with a copy of his decision thereon; [2] the respondents to make a
RETURN of the Writ on or before the close of office hours on Wednesday, October 12, 1994 and
APPEAR PERSONALLY and PRODUCE the person of Norberto Feria y Pa[c]quing on the aforesaid
date and time of hearing to the Judge to whom this case is raffled, and [3] the Director General,
Philippine National Police, through his duly authorized representative(s) to SERVE the Writ and
Petition, and make a RETURN thereof as provided by law and, specifically, his duly authorized
representative(s) to APPEAR PERSONALLY and ESCORT the person of Norberto Feria y Pa[c]quing
at the aforesaid date and time of hearing.
The case was then raffled to Branch 9 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, which on November
15, 1994, after hearing, issued an Order7 dismissing the case on the ground that the mere loss
of the records of the case does not invalidate the judgment or commitment nor authorize the
release of the petitioner, and that the proper remedy would be reconstitution of the records of
the case which should be filed with the court which rendered the decision.
Petitioner duly appealed said Order to the Court of Appeals, which on April 28, 1995, rendered
the assailed Decisions8 affirming the decision of the trial court with the modification that "in the
interest of orderly administration of justice" and "under the peculiar facts of the case" petitioner
may be transferred to the Bureau of Corrections in Muntinlupa City without submission of the
requirements (Mittimus, Decision and Information) but without prejudice to the reconstitution of
the original records.
The Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid Order having been denied for lack of merit,9
petitioner is now before us on certiorari, assigning the following errors of law:10
I. WHETHER OR NOT, UNDER THE PECULIAR CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS CASE, WHERE THE
RECORDS OF CONVICTION WERE LOST, THE PETITIONER'S CONTINUED INCARCERATION IS
JUSTIFIED UNDER THE LAW.
COROLLARY TO THIS, WHETHER OR NOT THE COURT OF APPEALS' RESOLUTION, AFFIRMING THE
DENIAL OF HEREIN APPELLANT'S PETITION FOR HABEAS CORPUS IS, IN CONTEMPLATION OF LAW,
A JUDGMENT OR A SUBSTITUTE JUDGMENT, WHICH CAN BE UTILIZED AS A SUFFICIENT BASIS FOR
HIS INCARCERATION.
II. WHETHER OR NOT THE RECONSTITUTION OF OFFICIAL RECORDS LOST/DESTROYED SHOULD
BE INITIATED BY THE GOVERNMENT AND ITS ORGANS, WHO ARE IN CUSTODY OF SUCH, OR BY
THE PRISONER, WHOSE LIBERTY IS RESTRAINED.
Petitioner argues that his detention is illegal because there exists no copy of a valid judgment as
required by Sections 1 and 2 of Rule 120 of the Rules of Court,11 and that the evidence
considered by the trial court and Court of Appeals in the habeas corpus proceedings did not
establish the contents of such judgment. Petitioner further contends that our ruling in Gunabe v.
Director of Prisons, 77 Phil. 993, 995 (1947), that "reconstitution is as much the duty of the
prosecution as of the defense" has been modified or abandoned in the subsequent case of
Ordonez v. Director of Prisons, 235 SCRA 152, 155 (1994), wherein we held that "[i]t is not the
fault of the prisoners that the records cannot now be found. If anyone is to be blamed, it surely
cannot be the prisoners, who were not the custodians of those records."
In its Comment,12 the Office of the Solicitor General contends that the sole inquiry in this habeas
corpus proceeding is whether or not there is legal basis to detain petitioner. The OSG maintains
that public respondents have more than sufficiently shown the existence of a legal ground for
petitioner's continued incarceration, viz., his conviction by final judgment, and under Section 4 of
Rule 102 of the Rules of Court, the discharge of a person suffering imprisonment under lawful
judgment is not authorized. Petitioner's remedy, therefore, is not a petition for habeas corpus but
a proceeding for the reconstitution of judicial records.1wphi1.nt
The high prerogative writ of habeas corpus, whose origin is traced to antiquity, was devised and
exists as a speedy and effectual remedy to relieve persons from unlawful restraint, and as the
best and only sufficient defense of personal freedom.13 It secures to a prisoner the right to have
the cause of his detention examined and determined by a court of justice, and to have the issue
ascertained as to whether he is held under lawful authority.14 Consequently, the writ may also
be availed of where, as a consequence of a judicial proceeding, (a) there has been a deprivation
of a constitutional right resulting in the restraint of a person, (b) the court had no jurisdiction to
impose the sentence, or (c) an excessive penalty has been imposed, as such sentence is void as
to such excess.15 Petitioner's claim is anchored on the first ground considering, as he claims,
that his continued detention, notwithstanding the lack of a copy of a valid judgment of
conviction, is violative of his constitutional right to due process.
Based on the records and the hearing conducted by the trial court, there is sufficient evidence on
record to establish the fact of conviction of petitioner which serves as the legal basis for his
detention. Petitioner made judicial admissions, both verbal and written, that he was charged with
and convicted of the crime of Robbery with Homicide, and sentenced to suffer imprisonment
"habang buhay".
In its Order dated October 17, 1994, the RTC-Manila, Branch 9, made the finding that 16
During the trial and on manifestation and arguments made by the accused, his learned counsel
and Solicitor Alexander G. Gesmundo who appeared for the respondents, it appears clear and
indubitable that:
(A) Petitioner had been charged with Robbery with Homicide in Criminal Case No. 60677, Illegal
Possession of Firearm in Criminal Case No. 60678 and Robbery in Band in Criminal Case No.
60867. . . . In Criminal Case No. 60677 (Robbery with Homicide) the accused admitted in open
Court that a decision was read to him in open Court by a personnel of the respondent Court (RTC
Branch II) sentencing him to Life Imprisonment (Habang buhay). . . (emphasis supplied).
Further, in the Urgent Motion for the Issuance of Commitment Order of the Above Entitled
Criminal Case dated June 8, 1993,17 petitioner himself stated that
COMES NOW, the undersigned accused in the above entitled criminal case and unto this
Honorable Court most respectfully move:
1. That in 1981 the accused was charge of (sic) Robbery with Homicide;
2. That after four years of trial, the court found the accused guilty and given a Life Sentence in a
promulgation handed down in 1985; (emphasis supplied).
3. That after the sentence was promulgated, the Presiding Judge told the councel (sic) that
accused has the right to appeal the decision;
4. That whether the de oficio counsel appealed the decision is beyond the accused
comprehension (sic) because the last time he saw the counsel was when the decision was
promulgated.
5. That everytime there is change of Warden at the Manila City Jail attempts were made to get
the Commitment Order so that transfer of the accused to the Bureau of Corrections can be
affected, but all in vain;
Petitioner's declarations as to a relevant fact may be given in evidence against him under
Section 23 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court. This rule is based upon the presumption that no
man would declare anything against himself, unless such declaration were true,18 particularly
with respect to such grave matter as his conviction for the crime of Robbery with Homicide.
Further, under Section 4 of Rule 129, "[a]n admission, verbal or written, made by a party in the
course of the proceedings in the same case, does not require proof. The admission may be
contradicted only by a showing that it was made through palpable mistake or that no such
admission was made." Petitioner does not claim any mistake nor does he deny making such
admissions.
The records also contain a certified true copy of the Monthly Report dated January 198519 of
then Judge Rosalio A. De Leon, attesting to the fact that petitioner was convicted of the crime of
Robbery with Homicide on January 11, 1985. Such Monthly Report constitutes an entry in official
records under Section 44 of Rule 130 of the Revised Rules on Evidence, which is prima facie
evidence of facts therein stated.
Public respondents likewise presented a certified hue copy of People's Journal dated January 18,
1985, page 2,20 issued by the National Library, containing a short news article that petitioner
was convicted of the crime of Robbery with Homicide and was sentenced to "life imprisonment."
However, newspaper articles amount to "hearsay evidence, twice removed"21 and are therefore
not only inadmissible but without any probative value at all whether objected to or not,22 unless
offered for a purpose other than proving the truth of the matter asserted. In this case, the news
article is admissible only as evidence that such publication does exist with the tenor of the news
therein stated.
As a general rule, the burden of proving illegal restraint by the respondent rests on the petitioner
who attacks such restraint. In other words, where the return is not subject to exception, that is,
where it sets forth process which on its face shows good ground for the detention of the prisoner,
it is incumbent on petitioner to allege and prove new matter that tends to invalidate the
apparent effect of such process.23 If the detention of the prisoner is by reason of lawful public
authority, the return is considered prima facie evidence of the validity of the restraint and the
petitioner has the burden of proof to show that the restraint is illegal. Thus, Section 13 of Rule
102 of the Rules of Court provides:
Sec. 13. When the return evidence, and when only a plea. If it appears that the prisoner is in
custody under a warrant of commitment in pursuance of law, the return shall be considered
prima facie evidence of the cause of restraint, but if he is restrained of his liberty by any alleged
private authority, the return shall be considered only as a plea of the facts therein set forth, and
the party claiming the custody must prove such facts.
Public respondents having sufficiently shown good ground for the detention, petitioner's release
from confinement is not warranted under Section 4 of Rule 102 of the Rules of Court which
provides that
Sec. 4. When writ not allowed or discharge authorized. If it appears that the person alleged to
be restrained of his liberty is in the custody of an officer under process issued by a court or judge
or by virtue of a judgment or order of a court of record, and that the court or judge had
jurisdiction to issue the process, render the judgment, or make the order, the writ shall not be
allowed; or if the jurisdiction appears after the writ is allowed, the person shall not be discharged
by reason of any informality or defect in the process, judgment, or order. Nor shall anything in
this rule be held to authorize the discharge of a person charged with or convicted of an offense in
the Philippines, or of a person suffering imprisonment under lawful judgment.
In the case of Gomez v. Director of Prisons, 77 Phil. 458 (1946), accused was convicted by the
trial court of the crime of rape, and was committed to the New Bilibid Prison. Pending appeal with
the Court of Appeals, the records of the case were, for reasons undisclosed, completely
destroyed or lost. Accused then filed a petition for the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus with
the Supreme Court. The Court denied the petition, ruling thus:
The petition does not make out a case. The Director of Prisons is holding the prisoner under
process issued by a competent court in pursuance of a lawful, subsisting judgment. The prisoner
himself admits the legality of his detention. The mere loss or destruction of the record of the
case does not invalidate the judgment or the commitment, or authorize the prisoner's release.
Note further that, in the present case, there is also no showing that petitioner duly appealed his
conviction of the crime of Robbery with Homicide, hence for all intents and purposes, such
judgment has already become final and executory. When a court has jurisdiction of the offense
charged and of the party who is so charged, its judgment, order, or decree is not subject to
collateral attack by habeas corpus.24 Put another way, in order that a judgment may be subject
to collateral attack by habeas corpus, it must be void for lack of jurisdiction.25 Thus, petitioner's
invocation of our ruling in Reyes v. Director of Prisons, supra, is misplaced. In the Reyes case, we
granted the writ and ordered the release of the prisoner on the ground that "[i]t does not appear
that the prisoner has been sentenced by any tribunal duly established by a competent authority
during the enemy occupation" and not because there were no copies of the decision and
information. Here, a copy of the mittimus is available. And, indeed, petitioner does not raise any
jurisdictional issue.
The proper remedy in this case is for either petitioner or public respondents to initiate the
reconstitution of the judgment of the case under either Act No. 3110,26 the general law
governing reconstitution of judicial records, or under the inherent power of courts to reconstitute
at any time the records of their finished cases in accordance with Section 5 (h) of Rule 135 of the
Rules of Court.27 Judicial records are subject to reconstitution without exception, whether they
refer to pending cases or finished cases.28 There is no sense in limiting reconstitution to pending
cases; finished cases are just as important as pending ones, as evidence of rights and obligations
finally adjudicated.29
Petitioner belabors the fact that no initiative was taken by the Government to reconstitute the
missing records of the trial court. We reiterate, however, that "reconstitution is as much the duty
of the prosecution as of the defense."30 Petitioner's invocation of Ordoez v. Director of Prisons,
235 SCRA 152 (1994), is misplaced since the grant of the petition for habeas corpus therein was
premised on the loss of records prior to the filing of Informations against the prisoners, and
therefore "[t]he government has failed to show that their continued detention is supported by a
valid conviction or by the pendency of charges against them or by any legitimate cause
whatsoever." In this case, the records were lost after petitioner, by his own admission, was
already convicted by the trial court of the offense charged. Further, the same incident which
gave rise to the filing of the Information for Robbery with Homicide also gave rise to another case
for Illegal Possession of Firearm,31 the records of which could be of assistance in the
reconstitution of the present case.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit, and the decision of the Court of Appeals is
AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 139255. November 24, 2003]
RAYMOND MICHAEL JACKSON, petitioner, vs. HON. FLORITO S. MACALINO, RUFUS B. RODRIGUEZ,
BUREAU OF IMMIGRATION, JOHN DOE and JANE DOE, respondents.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, as amended, for the reversal
of the Decision[1] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasay City, Branch 267, in Special
Proceedings No. 10948 dismissing the petition for habeas corpus filed by the petitioner.
The Antecedents
SPO3 Rodolfo M. Villaceran of the Philippine National Police (PNP) filed an application with the
RTC of Angeles City, Pampanga, for the issuance of a search warrant against petitioner Raymond
M. Jackson, an American citizen, a.k.a. Allen Miller, and Jaime C. Bueta for the search of the
articles listed therein at No. 17-21 Apple Street, Hensonville Homes, Balibago, Angeles City, and
the seizure thereof for violation of Article 176 of the Revised Penal Code.[2] Judge Bernardita G.
Erum granted the application and issued Search Warrant No. 97-29 on November 29, 1997.[3]
The search was conducted on the said date; articles were seized and the petitioner and Bueta
were apprehended and detained. Among the articles found in the possession of the petitioner
was U.S. Passport No. Z4613110 issued on June 2, 1983 by the U.S. Embassy in Manila to and in
the name of Raymond Michael Jackson, born on October 17, 1951 in South Dakota; and U.S.
Passport No. 085238399 issued on August 15, 1996 by the New Orleans Passport Agency,
Louisiana to and under the name of Steven Bernard Bator, born on August 20, 1949 in Detroit,
Michigan.[4]
Another application for a search warrant was filed by SPO3 Pedro B. Barsana, Jr. with the RTC of
Makati City for violation of Article 176 of the Revised Penal Code for the search of the premises at
No. 5518 Second Floor, Macodyn Building, South Superhighway (corner Pasay Road), Makati City
under the contract of Raymond Jackson a.k.a. Allen Miller and Bernard Bator and for the seizure
of the articles described therein. Acting on the application on November 28, 1997, Judge Pedro N.
Laggui of Branch 60 of the RTC issued Search Warrant No. 97-029.[5]
On December 2, 1997, an Information docketed as Criminal Case No. 97-2078 was filed with the
Municipal Trial Court of Angeles City against the petitioner and Bueta for violation of Article 176
of the Revised Penal Code.[6]
When apprised of the seizure of the aforementioned passports from the petitioner, U.S. Vice
Consul Raymond Greene of the United States Embassy in the Philippines advised the Department
of Justice on December 10, 1997 that the said passports had been cancelled.[7] Summary
deportation proceedings were initiated at the Commission of Immigration and Deportation (CID)
against the petitioner docketed as SDO No. BOC 97-46. On December 11, 1997, the Board of
Commissioners (BOC) issued an Order ordering the summary deportation of the petitioner to his
country of origin and directing the Chief of Civil Security Unit to implement the order within three
days from notice thereof, subject to compliance with the 1997 Deportation Rules of Procedures -
Office Memorandum No. ELM-97-013.[8] In the meantime, the name of the petitioner was
included in the blacklist of the CID.[9]
Aside from the aforementioned criminal cases, other criminal cases were filed against Jackson
with the RTC as follows:
Criminal Case No. The Accused In What Court Cases
are Pending
1. 98-1155 Raymond Michael Jackson Makati RTC
alias Allen Miller Branch 133
2. 98-903 Raymond Jackson Makati RTC
Branch 135
3. 97-202 Raymond M. Jackson QC RTC
a.k.a. Allen Miller and Branch 83
Jaime Bueta
4. 98-1152 Raymond Jackson Makati RTC
Branch 135[10]
On December 7, 1997, the Quezon City RTC ordered the release of the petitioner in Criminal Case
No. 97-202 after posting a P6,000 bail.[11]
On September 18, 1998, the Makati RTC issued an order in Criminal Case No. 98-1155 directing
the CID to hold the departure of the petitioner from the Philippines in view of the pending
criminal cases against him.[12] On September 28, 1998, the Makati RTC ordered the release of
the petitioner in Criminal Case No. 98-1152 after he posted bail in the amount of P40,000.[13]
On October 1, 1998, the petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration with the CID for the
reconsideration of the BOC Order dated December 11, 1997 directing his deportation.[14] He
alleged inter alia that: (a) he was married to Lily Morales by whom he had two children: Cristina
Jackson and Judaline Jackson; (b) his status was converted into that of a permanent resident on
September 30, 1987 under Section 13-A of the Immigration Act, as amended with Official
Passport No. 3121487; (c) his deportation from the Philippines would deprive him of the
opportunity to defend himself in the criminal cases pending against him. He appended to his
motion a copy of his marriage contract with Lily Morales and their childrens birth certificates. On
October 14, 1998, the CID issued an order denying the petitioners motion for reconsideration for
lack of merit.[15]
The petitioner could not be deported because he filed a petition to lift the summary order of
deportation with the CID which as of December 15, 1998 had not yet been resolved,[16] pending
the issuance of clearances from the NBI and PNP, travel documents and an airplane ticket.
On May 18, 1999, Tedd Archabal, Vice Consul of the Anti-Fraud Unit in the U.S. Embassy in
Manila, issued a certification that U.S. Passport No. Z4613110 issued to and under the name of
Raymond Michael Jackson and No. 085238399 issued to Steven Bernard Bator had been
cancelled because the persons appearing in the photographs affixed in the said passports did not
match those appearing in the photographs affixed in the original applications for the issuance of
the same.[17] The CID issued Mission Order No. RBR-99-164 on May 21, 1999 for the petitioners
arrest for being an undesirable alien under Section 37(a), paragraph 9 of the Philippine
Immigration Act of 1940, as amended,[18] based on the hold departure order in Criminal Case
No. 98-1155 and the certification of Vice Consul Tedd Archabal. The petitioner was arrested by
P/C Inspector James B. Mejia of the Foreign Intelligence and Liaison Office, PNP Intelligence
Group, Camp Crame, Quezon City, who turned him over to the CID on the said date.[19]
The petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus with the Court on June 28, 1999 against the
Commissioner of the CID and John Doe and Jane Doe; and on the same date, the Court issued a
resolution (a) directing the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus and the respondents to make a
return of the writ on or before July 2, 1999 at 8:30 a.m.; (b) ordering the Pasig RTC Judge to
whom the case would be raffled to conduct a hearing of the petition, to render judgment and to
serve a copy of its decision within two days from its promulgation.[20]
In their return filed with the RTC on July 8, 1999, the respondents alleged inter alia that the
petitioner was arrested and detained at the CID on the basis of the summary deportation order
issued by the BOC on December 11, 1997 and of the hold departure order of the Makati RTC in
Criminal Case No. 98-1155; the petitioners petition for habeas corpus was premature as there
was a pending petition to lift the summary deportation order before the BOC filed by him.[21] On
July 15, 1999, the RTC rendered a decision dismissing the petition of Jackson and denied his plea
for a writ of habeas corpus.[22]
The petitioner assails the decision of the RTC and prays for the reversal thereof, contending that:
A. RODRIGUEZ CANNOT ISSUE WARRANTS OF ARREST SINCE ONLY JUDGES CAN ISSUE THE SAME.
B. ASSUMING, WITHOUT CONCEDING, THAT RODRIGUEZ CAN ISSUE WARRANTS OF ARREST,
SUCH CAN ONLY BE ISSUED TO ENFORCE A FINAL ORDER OF DEPORTATION; HOWEVER, IN THE
INSTANT CASE, THERE IS NO FINAL ORDER OF DEPORTATION.
C. PETITIONERS RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS HAS BEEN VIOLATED.[23]
The petitioner avers that under Article III, Section 2 of the Philippine Constitution, only judges are
vested with authority to issue warrants for the arrest of persons, including aliens. Even if it is
assumed that the Commissioner of the CID is authorized to issue a warrant of arrest, this is
limited only to those cases where a final order of deportation had already been issued by the
BOC, and only for the purpose of implementing the said order. According to the petitioner, the
order of deportation issued by the BOC on December 11, 1999 is illegal; hence, null and void.
The petitioner was not apprised of any specific charges filed against him with the CID and was
not heard on the said charges as required by law before the order was issued. The petitioner
asserts that there was no probable cause for his arrest by the CID and that the respondents even
violated the Memorandum Circular of the Secretary of Justice dated June 7, 1999.[24] The
petitioner cited the ruling of the Court in Lao Gi v. CA[25] to fortify his petition.
In their comment on the petition, the respondents averred that the CID is authorized under
Section 37(a) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended, to issue warrants for the
arrest of aliens on the CIDs finding of the existence of a ground for deportation. The petitioner
cannot feign lack of due process because he filed a motion for the reconsideration of the
December 11, 1997 Order of the BOC ordering his summary deportation which the BOC denied
on October 14, 1998. When Mission Order RBR-99-164 was issued on May 21, 1999 to effect the
arrest of the petitioner, it was on the basis of a final and executory order of deportation. The RTC,
for its part, held that (a) the petition was premature because the petitioners petition with the CID
to lift the summary order of deportation had not yet been resolved by the BOC of the CID; (b) the
petition for habeas corpus was inappropriate because the petitioner was validly detained under a
mission order issued by the Commissioner based on the order of deportation issued by the BOC
on December 11, 1997; (c) the petitioner is estopped from assailing his arrest and detention by
the CID.
The petition is dismissed.
Section 1, Rule 102 of the Rules of Court, as amended, provides that except as otherwise
expressly provided by law, the writ of habeas corpus shall extend to all cases of illegal
confinement or detention by which any person is deprived of his liberty, or by which the rightful
custody of any person is withheld from the person entitled thereto. The ultimate purpose of the
writ of habeas corpus is to relieve a person from unlawful restraint. It is essentially a writ of
inquiry and is granted to test the right under which he is detained.[26] Section 4, Rule 102 of the
said Rules provides when the writ of habeas corpus is not allowed or discharged authorized:
Sec. 4. When writ not allowed or discharged authorized. If it appears that the person alleged to
be restrained of his liberty is in the custody of an officer under process issued by a court or judge
or by virtue of a judgment or order of a court of record, and that the court or judge had
jurisdiction to issue the process, render the judgment; or make the order, the writ shall not be
allowed; or if the jurisdiction appears after the writ is allowed, the person shall not be discharged
by reason of any informality or defect in the process, judgment, or order. Nor shall anything in
this rule be held to authorize the discharge of a person charged with or convicted of an offense in
the Philippines, or of a person suffering imprisonment under lawful judgment.
The term court includes quasi-judicial bodies like the Deportation Board of the Bureau of
Immigration.[27]
Even if the arrest of a person is illegal, supervening events may bar his release or discharge from
custody. What is to be inquired into is the legality of his detention as of, at the earliest, the filing
of the application for a writ of habeas corpus, for even if the detention is at its inception illegal, it
may, by reason of same supervening events such as the instances mentioned in Section 4, Rule
102, be no longer illegal at the time of the filing of the application. Any such supervening events
are the issuance of a judicial process preventing the discharge of the detained person.[28]
As a general rule, the burden of proving illegal restraint by the respondents rests on the
petitioner who attaches such restraints. Whether the return sets forth process where on its face
shows good ground for the detention of the petitioner, it is incumbent on him to allege and prove
new matter that tends to invalidate the apparent effects of such process.[29]
Section 13 of Rule 102 of the Rules of Court, as amended, provides that if it appears that the
detained person is in custody under a warrant of commitment in pursuance of law, the return
shall be considered prima facie evidence of the cause of restraint:
Sec. 13. When the return evidence, and when only a plea. If it appears that the prisoner is in
custody under a warrant of commitment in pursuance of law, the return shall be considered
prima facie evidence of the cause of restraint; but if he is restrained of his liberty by any alleged
private authority, the return shall be considered only as a plea of the facts therein set forth, and
the party claiming the custody must prove such facts.
In this case, based on the return of the writ by the respondents, the petitioner was arrested and
detained at the CID detention center at Bicutan, Paraaque City, under Mission Order No. RBR-99-
164 dated May 21, 1999 based on the Order of the BOC dated December 11, 1997 which had
become final and executory. The BOC found, after due proceedings, that:
Records show that on 10 December 1997, Vice Consul Raymond Greene of the U.S. Embassy in
Manila advised the Department of Justice that the U.S. passports which were confiscated from
the abovenamed respondent when he was arrested by PNP operatives in Angeles City on 30
November 1997 and purportedly issued to Raymond Michael Jackson and Steven Bernard Bator
have been determined to have been tampered. As a consequence, said passports were cancelled
by the U.S. Embassy.
In Schonemann vs. Commissioner Santiago, et al., (G.R. No. 86461, 30 May 1989), the Supreme
Court ruled that if a foreign embassy cancels the passport of an alien, or does not reissue a valid
passport to him, the alien loses the privilege to remain in the country.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Board of Commissioners hereby orders the summary
deportation of NORMAN LLOYD @ RAYMOND MICHAEL JACKSON @ STEVEN BERNARD BATOR to
his country of origin subject to compliance with the 1997 Deportation Rules of Procedures-Office
Memorandum Order No. ELM-97-013.
The Chief of the Civil Security Unit is hereby ordered to implement this Order within three (03)
days from receipt hereof.
Include respondents name on the Blacklist.
Give respondent a copy hereof.[30]
The information relayed by U.S. Vice Consul Raymond Greene to the DOJ on December 10, 1997
was reiterated by U.S. Vice Consul Tedd Archabal in his certification forwarded to the DOJ on May
18, 1999, thus:
CERTIFICATION
I, Tedd Archabal, Vice Consul of the United States hereby certify that United States Passport
Number Z4613110 issued June 2, 1983 at the U.S. Embassy, Manila in the name of RAYMOND
MICHAEL JACKSON, born October 17, 1951 at South Dakota is a genuine United States
Government document that has been altered and photosubstituted.
I also certify that United States Passport Number 085238399 issued August 15, 1996 at the New
Orleans Passport Agency, Louisiana, in the name of STEVEN BERNARD BATOR, born August 20,
1949 at Detroit, Michigan, is a genuine United States Government document that has been
altered and photosubstituted, as well.
I further certify that a comparison of photographs affixed to U.S. Passports Number Z4613110
and 085238399 which were seized by Philippine National Police officers on or about November
29, 1997 from a man claiming to be Raymond Michael Jackson and photographs affixed to the
original applications for passports number Z4613110 and 085238399 in the names of Raymond
Michael Jackson and Steven Bernard Bator on file with the U.S. Department of State, Washington,
DC, revealed that these are not/not the same people.[31]
The petitioners arrest and detention are in accord with Section 45(d) in relation to Section 37(a)
(9) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 which respectively reads:
SEC. 45. (d) being an alien, enters the Philippines without inspection and admission by the
immigration officials, or obtains entry into the Philippines by willful, false, or misleading
representation or willful concealment of a material fact;
SEC. 37. (a) The following aliens shall be arrested upon the warrant of the Commissioner of
Immigration or of any other officer designated by him for the purpose and deported upon the
warrant of the Commissioner of Immigration after a determination by the Board of
Commissioners of the existence of the ground for deportation as charged against the alien:

(9) Any alien who commits any of the acts described in Sections Forty-five and Forty-six of this
Act, independent of criminal action which may be brought against him:
In Tung Chin Hui v. Rodriguez,[32] this Court held that such documents from a foreign embassy
attesting to the cancellation of the passports held by their national on the ground that the said
passports were tampered with; hence, cancelled were sufficient grounds for the arrest and
deportation of aliens from the Philippines:
The above-quoted official letters demonstrate the speciousness of the petitioners contention that
his passport could not have been cancelled in 1995, inasmuch as he was allowed to enter the
country as late as 1998. The letters show that the Philippine government was informed about the
cancellation only in 1998.
Furthermore, the foregoing letters of the official representative of the Taiwanese government
belie the petitioners submission that there was no evidence to prove the findings of the CA and
the Board of Commissioners. Verily, these documents constitute sufficient justification for his
deportation. As the Court held in the landmark case Forbes v. Chuoco Tiaco, [t]he mere fact that
a citizen or subject is out of the territory of his country does not relieve him from that allegiance
which he owes to his government, and his government may, under certain conditions, properly
and legally request his return.[33]
The petitioner cannot feign ignorance of the charges against him in the CID and insist on being
deprived by the BOC of his right to due process as prescribed for in Section 37(c) of the
Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, thus:
(c) No alien shall be deported without being informed of the specific grounds for deportation nor
without being given a hearing under rules of procedure to be prescribed by the Commissioner of
Immigration.
This is so because on October 1, 1998, the petitioner filed a motion with the CID for the
reconsideration of the December 11, 1997 Order of the BOC. The petitioner did not allege therein
that he was not informed of the charges against him. In fact, the petitioner did not even rebut
the claim of the U.S. Vice Consul that the passport he was carrying was tampered and had been
already cancelled. Neither did he allege that he requested for the reinstatement of his passport
with the United States Embassy. Despite the finality of the deportation order of the BOC, it still
entertained the petitioners motion for reconsideration but denied the same on its findings that
there were inconsistencies in his sworn statement and the documents he presented in support of
his motion, thus:
After going over the motion, we find no valid reason to disturb the order of 12 (sic) December
1997. Likewise, the same had long become final and executory.
Furthermore, the grounds alleged in the motion have no merit and are irrelevant. The alleged
marriage of respondent to a Filipina, a certain Lily Morales, with whom respondent allegedly
begot two (2) children named Cristina and Judaline both surnamed Jackson, and the supposed
conversion of respondents status to permanent resident on 30 September 1987 under Section
13(a) of the Immigration Act (CA No. 613, as amended), does not change the fact that the two
(2) US passports purportedly issued to Raymond Michael Jackson and Steven Bernard Bator
which were used by respondent, were tampered and subsequently cancelled by the U.S.
Embassy. Respondent already lost the privilege to remain in the country (Schonemann v. Comm.
Santiago, G.R. No. 86461, 30 May 1989).
It is also significant to note the evident inconsistencies in the sworn statement of respondent
conducted by Special Prosecutor Henry B. Tubban on 5 December 1997 with the documents
attached in the motion. Hereunder are the said inconsistencies:
1. Annex A of the Motion is an alleged Marriage Contract between the respondent and one Lily H.
Morales showing Manila City Hall as the place of marriage and which was held on 6 September
1984.
In the Sworn Statement, the respondent claimed to have entered the country for the first time
only in 1988 (p. 1 of sworn statement), that he married a certain Lily Morales sometime in 1989
in Angeles City (p. 2 of sworn statement).
2. The motion stated that out of the union of the respondent with Ms. Morales, two (2) children
named Cristina and Judaline both surnamed Jackson, were born. In the sworn statement of the
respondent, he stated that they have five (5) children.
In addition, in the marriage contract (Annex A of motion), it was stated that Ms. Morales is 17
years of age, a minor. However, below the personal circumstances of the respondent and Mrs.
Morales is a statement in bold letters that BOTH PARTIES ARE OF LEGAL AGES.
The foregoing creates a serious doubt on the allegations in the motion and on the authenticity of
the documents attached thereto. With more reason that the motion should be denied.[34]
Moreover, the petitioner, in his motion for reconsideration with the CID, offered to post a bail
bond for his provisional release to enable him to secure the necessary documents to establish
the appropriate grounds for his permanent stay in the Philippines. By offering to post a bail bond,
the petitioner thereby admitted that he was under the custody of the CID and voluntarily
accepted the jurisdiction of the CID.[35]
The present as clearly as the petitioners petition to lift the order of deportation was as yet
unresolved by the BOC when he filed the petition for habeas corpus.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DISMISSED. The Decision of the RTC in Special
Proceedings No. 10948 is AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 145851 November 22, 2001
ABELARDO B. LICAROS, petitioner,
vs.
THE SANDIGANBAYAN and THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, respondents.
PANGANIBAN, J.:
The unreasonable delay of more, than ten (10) years to resolve a criminal case, without fault on
the part of the accused and despite his earnest effort to have his case decided, violates the
constitutional right to the speedy disposition of a case. Unlike the right to a speedy trial, this
constitutional privilege applies not only during the trial stage, but also when the case has already
been submitted for decision.
The Case
Before this Court is a Petition for Mandamus1 under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, seeking to
compel the Sandiganbayan (First Division) to dismiss Criminal Case No. 6672 against herein
petitioner, who is charged as an accessory.
The Facts
Undisputed by the special prosecutor2 and the Sandiganbayan3 are the material facts as
narrated by petitioner in this wise:
"4.1 On 5 June 1982, the Legaspi City Branch of the Central Bank was robbed and divested of
cash in the amount of P19,731,320.00.
"4.2 In the evening of June 6, 1982, Modesto Licaros (no relation to herein petitioner), one of the
principal accused, together with four companions, delivered in sacks a substantial portion of the
stolen money to the Concepcion Building in Intramuros, Manila where Home Savings Bank had its
offices, of which herein petitioner was then Vice Chairman and Treasurer. The delivery was made
on representation by Modesto Licaros to former Central Bank Governor Gregorio Licaros, Sr., then
Chairman of the Bank and father of herein petitioner, that the money to be deposited came from
some Chinese businessmen from Iloilo who wanted the deposit kept secret; that Governor Licaros
left for the United States on May 28, 1982 for his periodic medical check-up, so left to his son,
herein petitioner, to attend to the proposed deposit.
"4.3 Even the prosecution admits in their Reply Memorandum that from the evidence presented,
that in the evening of June 8, 1982, herein petitioner attempted to report the incident to General
Fabian Ver but he could not get in touch with him because the latter was then out of the country;
that it was only the following day, June 9, 1982, when herein petitioner was able to arrange a
meeting with then Central Bank Governor Jaime C. Laya, Senior Deputy Governor Gabriel
Singson, and Central Bank Chief Security Officer, Rogelio Navarete, to report his suspicion that
the money being deposited by Modesto Licaros may have been stolen money. With the report or
information supplied by herein petitioner, then CB Governor Laya called up then NBI Director Jolly
Bugarin and soon after the meeting, the NBI, Metrocom and [the] CB security guards joined
forces for the recovery of the money and the apprehension of the principal accused.
"4.4 All the aforesaid Central Bank officials executed sworn statements and testified for herein
petitioner, particularly CB Governor Jaime C. Laya, CB Senior Deputy Governor Gabriel Singson
and CB Director of [the] Security and Transport Department Rogelio Navarette, and were one in
saying that it was the report of herein petitioner to the authorities that broke the case on 9 June
1982 and resulted in the recovery of the substantial portion of the stolen money and the arrest of
all the principal accused.
"4.5 On July 6, 1982, after preliminary investigation, the Tanodbayan (now Special Prosecutor)
filed an Information for robbery with the Sandiganbayan docketed as Crim. Case No. 6672
against two groups of accused:
Principals:
(1) Modesto Licaros y Lacson, [P]rivate [I]ndividual
(2) Leo Flores y Manlangit, CB [S]ecurity [G]uard
(3) Ramon Dolor y Ponce, CB Assistant Regional Cashier
(4) Glicerio Balansin y Elaurza, CB Security [G]uard
(5) Rolando Quejada y Redequillo, Private Individual
(6) Pio Edgardo Flores y Torres, Private Individual
(7) Mario Lopez Vito y Dayungan, Private Individual
(8) Rogelio De la Cruz y Bodegon, Private Individual
Accessory After the Fact:
(1) Abelardo B. Licaros, Vice Chairman and Treasurer, Home Savings Bank and Trust Co. (HSBTC),
Private Individual.
"The Tanodbayan did not adopt the recommendation of the NBI that Abelardo B. Licaros be
charged as principal apparently because no one of those whose statements were taken including
the above principal accused ever testified that he participated in the planning or execution of the
robbery so that he could be held also in the conspiracy' as alleged by the NBI.
"4.6 On November 26, 1982, the Tanodbayan filed an Amended Information naming the same
persons as principals, except Rogelio dela Cruz who is now charged as an accessory, together
with private respondent Abelardo B. Licaros. De la Cruz died on November 6, 1987 as per
manifestation by his counsel dated and filed on November 17, 1987.
"4.7 On November 29, 1982, the accused were arraigned including herein petitioner, who
interposed the plea of not guilty.
"4.8 On January 7, 1983, the Tanodbayan filed with the Sandiganbayan a 'Motion for Discharge'
of herein petitioner to be utilized as a state witness which was granted in a Resolution dated
February 11, 1983. The Supreme Court, however, on petition for certiorari filed by accused
Flores, Modesto Licaros and Lopez Vito, annulled the discharge because it ruled that the
Sandiganbayan should have deferred its resolution on the motion to discharge until after the
prosecution has presented all its other evidence.
"4.9 At the close of its evidence, or on July 23, 1984, the prosecution filed a second motion for
discharge of herein petitioner to be utilized as a state witness but the Sandiganbayan in a
Resolution dated September 13, 1984 denied the Motion stating in part that the motion itself
does not furnish any cue or suggestion on what petitioner will testify in the event he is
discharged and placed on the stand as state witness.
"4.10 Meanwhile, as of March 8, 1983, the prosecution has presented ten (10) witnesses. Among
those who testified were NBI Agents Victor Bessat and Apollo Sayo, who took and identified the
sworn statements of accused Leo Flores, Ramon Dolor, Rogelio de la Cruz, Mario Lopez Vito and
Modesto Licaros; M/Sgt. Raynero Galarosa, who took and identified the sworn statement of
accused Pio Flores and the sworn supplemental statement of accused Glicerio Balansin; Sgt.
Eliseo Rioveros, who took and identified the sworn statement of accused Glicerus Balansin; and
CIS Agent Maria Corazon Pantorial, who took the sworn statement of accused Rolando Quejada.
None of these witnesses, nor any of the principal accused who executed the sworn statements
implicated herein petitioner to the crime of robbery directly or indirectly.
"4.11 On September 17, 1984, the prosecution formally offered its documentary evidence. In a
Resolution dated October 1, 1984, the Sandiganbayan admitted the evidence covered by said
formal offer and the prosecution [was] considered to have rested its case.
"4.12 In a Resolution dated June 25, 1985, the Sandiganbayan granted the prosecution's motion
to reopen the case to allow its witness Lamberto Zuniga to testify on the conspiracy and to
identify a sworn statement given before the NBI on June 15, 1982. Having been established that
petitioner was not part of the conspiracy, the testimony had no materiality nor relevance to the
case insofar as petitioner is concerned.
"4.13 On January 14, 1986, petitioner filed a Motion for Separate Trial contending that the
prosecution already closed its evidence and that his defense is separate and distinct from the
other accused, he having been charged only as accessory. The [Motion] was granted in an Order
dated January 17, 1986.
"4.14 Thereafter, herein petitioner commenced the presentation of his evidence. Aside from his
testimony and that of his late father, former Central Bank Governor-Gregorio S. Licaros,
petitioner presented the top officials of the Central Bank namely then Central Bank Governor
Jaime C. Laya, then Senior Deputy Governor Gabriel C. Singson, then Central Bank Security and
Transport Dept. Chief Rogelio M. Navarette who identified their sworn statements taken before
the investigators and who testified that it was the petitioner's report on June 9, 1982 that broke
the case and resulted in the recovery of the substantial portion of the stolen money and the
apprehension of the principal accused.
"4.15 On August 8, 1986, petitioner filed his Formal Offer of Exhibits. On August 14, 1986,
petitioner filed his Memorandum praying that judgment be rendered acquitting him of the
offense charged.
"4.16 In a Resolution dated August 26, 1986, the Sandiganbayan, through Presiding Justice
Francis E. Garchitorena (then newly appointed after the EDSA revolution), admitted all the
exhibits covered by said Formal Offer of Exhibits at the same time, ordering the prosecution to
file its Reply Memorandum, thereafter the case was deemed submitted for decision.
"4.17 On September 26, 1986, the prosecution filed its Reply Memorandum. Petitioner also filed
his Reply Memorandum on September 29, 1986 praying that judgment be rendered acquitting
him of the offense charged.
"4.18 In a Resolution dated October 8, 1986 copy of which was received by petitioner on October
15, 1986, the Sandiganbayan deferred the decision of the case regarding herein petitioner 'until
after the submission of the case for decision with respect to the other accused.'
"4.19 Petitioner filed his Motion for Reconsideration on October 16, 1986, but the Sandiganbayan
in a Resolution dated December 16, 1986 and promulgated on January 6, 1987 denied the same,
the dispositive portion of which read(s):
'IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Motion for Reconsideration filed by accused Abelardo B. Licaros
is denied.
'The decision as to the accusation against him will be rendered together with the accusation
against the other accused without relating the evidence separately presented at the separate
proceeding held for the separate sets of accused one way or the other.'
"4.20. As admitted by the prosecution in its Comment on the Omnibus Motion dated March 31,
2000, the 'case was submitted for decision on June 20, 1990.'
"4.21 As of this writing, and more than ten (10) years after the case was submitted for decision,
the Sandiganbayan has not rendered the Decision.
"4.22 The Sandiganbayan has not rendered the Decision even while the proceedings involving
herein petitioner as an accessory in a separate trial were terminated as early as October 8, 1986,
while those against all the principal accused were deemed submit[t]ed for decision on June 20,
1990.
"4.23 As early as October 16, 1986, herein petitioner already invoked his constitutional right to
speedy justice when he filed a Motion on said date praying for, among other things, that the
Sandiganbayan reconsider its Resolution dated October 8, 1986 deferring the decision of the
case against herein petitioner 'until after the submission of the case for decision with respect to
the other accused' and that a judgment of acquittal be rendered.
"4.24 The Honorable Sandiganbayan has not also rendered a resolution on herein petitioner's
Omnibus Motion to Dismiss filed on March 23, 2000 which was deemed submitted for resolution
on May 5, 2000, the last pleading having been filed on said date. In the said Omnibus Motion,
petitioner prays for the dismissal of the case insofar as it involves herein petitioner for violation
of his constitutional right to speedy disposition of the case. Sad to say, even this Motion to
Dismiss has not been acted upon.
"4.25 On 15 August 2000, herein petitioner filed his Motion to Resolve. This was followed by
Reiterative Motion for Early Resolution filed on September 21, 2000.
"4.26 Notwithstanding the lapse of more than ten (10) years after the case was deemed
submitted for decision, the Sandiganbayan has not rendered the Decision. Hence, this petition."4
The Issues
Petitioner interposes the following issues for the consideration of this Court:
A
"The unexplained failure of the SANDIGANBAYAN to render the decision for more than ten (10)
years after the case was deemed submitted for Decision is tantamount to gross abuse of
discretion, manifest injustice or palpable excess of authority.
B
"The unexplained failure of the SANDIGANBAYAN to render the Decision for more than ten (10)
years violated herein petitioner's constitutional right to due process and to a speedy disposition
of the case.
C
"Recent Decisions of this Honorable Supreme Court mandate the immediate dismissal of the case
against herein petitioner."5
In brief, the main issue is whether petitioner's constitutional right to a speedy disposition of his
case has been violated. We shall also discuss, as a side issue, the propriety of mandamus as a
remedy under the circumstances in this case.
The Court's Ruling
The Petition is meritorious.6
Main Issue:
The Right to a Speedy Disposition
On June 20, 1990, Criminal Case No. 6672 was deemed submitted for the decision of the
Sandiganbayan. Since then, no action has been taken by the anti-graft court. On March 23, 2000,
petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion to Dismiss, grounded on the violation of his right to a speedy
disposition. Unfortunately, even this Motion has not been ruled upon by public respondent.
Under Section 6 of PD 1606 amending PD 1486, the Sandiganbayan has only 90 days to decide a
case from the time it is deemed submitted for decision. Considering that the subject criminal
case was submitted for decision as early as June 20, 1990, it is obvious that respondent court has
failed to decide the case within the period prescribed by law. Even if we were to consider the
period provided under Section 15(1), Article III of the 1987 Constitution, which is 12 months from
the submission of the case for decision, the Sandiganbayan would still have miserably failed to
perform its mandated duty to render a decision on the case within the period prescribed by law.
Clearly then, the decision in this case is long overdue, and the period to decide the case under
the law has long expired.7
Even more important than the above periods within which the decision should have been
rendered is the right against an unreasonable delay in the disposition of one's case before any
judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative body.8 This constitutionally guaranteed right finds
greater significance in a criminal case before a court of justice, where any delay in disposition
may result in a denial of justice for the accused altogether. Indeed, the aphorism "justice delayed
is justice denied" is by no means a trivial or meaningless concept that can be taken for granted
by those who are tasked with the dispensation of justice.
Indubitably, there has been a transgression of the right of petitioner to a speedy disposition of
his case due to inaction on the part of the Sandiganbayan. Neither that court nor the special
prosecutor contradicted his allegation of a ten-year delay in the disposition of his case. The
special prosecutor in its Comment9 even openly admitted the date when the case had been
deemed submitted for decision, as well as respondent court's failure to act on it despite
petitioner's several Motions to resolve the case. The special prosecutor stated as follows:
"With the termination of presentation of evidence for the prosecution and the principal accused
in this case, the same was deemed submitted for decision on June 20, 1990.
"Alleging violation by respondent court of his right to speedy disposition of the case, petitioner
on March 23, 2000 filed an Omnibus Motion to Dismiss. His motion was deemed submitted for
resolution by the respondent court on May 5, 2000.
"On August 15, 2000, petitioner filed before the respondent court a Motion to Resolve and a
month thereafter a Reiterative Motion for Early Resolution. No decision has yet been rendered by
respondent court."10
For its part, the Sandiganbayan candidly admitted that the said criminal case had not been ruled
upon all this time, because it "was one of those cases that got buried"11 in the archives during
the reorganization in that court. Presiding Justice Francis E. Garchitorena's explanation (contained
in his Comment) is quoted in full hereunder:
"1. The factual narrative by the petitioner in the instant matter is substantially correct;
"2. Indeed, originally petitioner Licaros had filed a Motion for Resolution of his portion of the case
after he submitted his evidence separately;
"3. Eventually, the instant case was submitted for decision;
"4. Indeed, it would have been ripe to resolve the instant case including that portion which
pertained to petitioner Licaros;
"5. The matter was duly assigned for drafting of the decision (not the undersigned).
"6. Sometime in 1995, a draft of the Decision was submitted for consideration by the other
justices of the Division;
"7. In the meantime, movements took place in the composition of the justices who constituted
the First Division later.
"8. In 1997, the entire Court was re-organized with the addition of two (2) new Divisions and six
(6) new justices;
"9. At this time, the cases in the Sandiganbayan, whether in progress or submitted were re-
distributed from the original Divisions to which they had been raffled to the new Divisions;
"10. The instant case remained with this Division;
"11. While the burden of each Division has considerably lightened, the new justices had to
undergo an orientation in this Court;
"12. Not all cases were immediately re-assigned to the different members. The instant case was
one of them;
"13. Then, this Court relocated to its present premises which required not only packing and
crating the records but the problem of not being able to unpack them very easily due to the
absence of an adequate number of shelves and cabinets available;
"14. Due to the difficulty in funds, the Philippine Estate Authority which was supposed to have
provided new furniture including shelves and cabinets out of the payments made to it, was
unable to do so;
"15. To this date, the three original Divisions do not have all the needed shelves and many
records remain in cardboard boxes both in chambers and in the offices of the Division Clerk of
Court. (In the library and in the Archives, the boxes for books and old records remained
unopened.);
"16. In all this, the instant matter was one of those that got 'buried';
"17. Significantly, when the records of this case were returned to the undersigned, the records of
this case were not logged in the record book through some oversight of his staff which the
undersigned cannot explain so that it did not appear in the tracking process of the records of this
office;
"18. At this time, work is being done on the case for the preparation and finalization of the
decision which the undersigned has taken upon himself.
"19. Insofar as this Division is concerned, the responsibility for this situation belongs exclusively
to the undersigned, both in his capacity as chairman and as Presiding Justice;
"The undersigned respectfully reiterates: there is indeed fault and the fault is exclusively that of
the undersigned for which the undersigned begs for the kindness of this Honorable Court and
humbly submits to its wisdom and judgment."12
Citing Tatad v. Sandiganbayan,13 Angchangco Jr. v. Ombudsman14 and Roque v. Office of the
Ombudsman,15 petitioner claims that he is entitled to a dismissal of the criminal case against
him. An unreasonable delay of three years in the disposition of a case violates the accused's
constitutional rights, as the Court explained in Tatad v. Sandiganbayan:
"Not only under the broad umbrella of the due process clause, but under the constitutional
guarantee of 'speedy disposition' of cases as embodied in Section 16 of the Bill of Rights (both in
the 1973 and the 1987 Constitutions), the inordinate delay is violative of the petitioner's
constitutional rights. A delay of close to three (3) years cannot be deemed reasonable or
justifiable in the light of the circumstance obtaining in the case at bar."16
Because of an inordinate delay of more than six years in the disposition of Angchangco Jr. v.
Ombudsman, the High Court ordered its dismissal, as follows:
"After a careful review of the facts and circumstances of the present case, the Court finds the
inordinate delay of more than six years by the Ombudsman in resolving the criminal complaints
against petitioner to be violative of his constitutional guaranteed right to due process and to a
speedy disposition of the cases against him, thus warranting the dismissal of said criminal cases
pursuant to the pronouncement of the Court in Tatad vs. Sandiganbayan . x x x "17
More recently, in Roque et. al. v. Office of the Ombudsman, the Court dismissed the criminal
cases against petitioner therein, on the following explanation:
"Clearly, the delay of almost six years disregarded the Ombudsman's duty, as mandated by the
Constitution and Republic Act No. 6770, to act promptly on complaints before him. More
important, it violated the petitioners' rights to due process and to a speedy disposition of cases
filed against them. Although respondents attempted to justify the six months needed by
Ombudsman Desierto to review the recommendation of Deputy Ombudsman Gervasio, no
explanation was given why it took almost six years for the latter to resolve the Complaint."18
On the other hand, the special prosecutor contends that the above-cited rulings of the Court
should not apply to the present case, because what was involved in those cases was a delay on
the part of the Office of the Ombudsman or the Office of the Special Prosecutor (formerly
Tanodbayan) with respect to the holding of a preliminary investigation. He argues that the case
against herein petitioner has already been proven by the ombudsman with the filing of the
corresponding Information before respondent court. Moreover, the prosecution has already fully
discharged its mandated duty to present evidence against the accused. In other words, the
special prosecutor is of the view that the accused's right to a speedy disposition of his case is not
violated when the prosecution aspect of the case has already been duly performed.
We cannot accept the special prosecutor's limited and constrained interpretation of the
constitutionally enshrined right to a speedy disposition of cases. It must be understood that in
the ordinary course of a criminal proceeding, a court is responsible for the ultimate disposition of
the case. This is true irrespective of the prosecution's punctual performance of its duty. Hence,
notwithstanding the filing of the information, the presentation of evidence and the completion of
the trial proper, the eventual disposition of the case will still depend largely on the timely
rendition of judgment by a court. And where it does not act promptly on the adjudication of a
case before it and within the period prescribed by law, the accused's right to a speedy
disposition of the case is just as much prejudiced as when the prosecution is prolonged or
deferred indefinitely. Accordingly, with all the more reason should the right to the speedy
disposition of a case be looked upon with care and caution when that case has already been
submitted to the court for decision.
In Abadia v. Court of Appeals,19 the Court had the occasion to rule on the nature and the extent
as well as the broader protection afforded by the constitutional right to the speedy disposition of
a case, as compared with the right to a speedy trial. Thus, it ratiocinated as follows:
"The Bill of Rights provisions of the 1987 Constitution were precisely crafted to expand
substantive fair trial rights and to protect citizens from procedural machinations which tend to
nullify those rights. Moreover, Section 16, Article III of the Constitution extends the right to a
speedy disposition of cases to cases 'before all judicial, quasi-judicial and administrative bodies.'
This protection extends to all citizens, x x x and covers the periods before, during and after the
trial, affording broader protection than Section 14(2) which guarantees merely the right to a
speedy trial."20 (Emphasis supplied)
It has been held that a breach of the right of the accused to the speedy disposition of a case may
have consequential effects, but it is not enough that there be some procrastination in the
proceedings. In order to justify the dismissal of a criminal case, it must be established that the
proceedings have unquestionably been marred by vexatious, capricious and oppressive
delays.21
In the case before us, the failure of the Sandiganbayan to decide the case even after the lapse of
more than ten years after it was submitted for decision involves more than just a mere
procrastination in the proceedings. From the explanation given by the Sandiganbayan, it appears
that the case was kept in idle slumber, allegedly due to reorganizations in the divisions and the
lack of logistics and facilities for case records. Had it not been for the filing of this Petition for
Mandamus, petitioner would not have seen any development in his case, much less the eventual
disposition thereof. The case remains unresolved up to now, with only respondent court's
assurance that at this time "work is being done on the case for the preparation and finalization of
the decision."22
In Guerrero v. Court of Appeals,23 the Court denied a Petition seeking to dismiss a criminal case
grounded on an alleged violation of the accused's right to a speedy disposition. However, the
accused in the said case was deemed to have slept on his rights by not asserting them at the
earliest possible opportunity. The Court explained its ruling in this wise:
"In the case before us, the petitioner merely sat and waited after the case was submitted for
resolution in 1979. It was only in 1989 when the case below was reraffled from the RTC of
Caloocan City to the RTC of Navotas-Malabon and only after respondent trial judge of the latter
court ordered on March 14, 1990 the parties to follow-up and complete the transcript of
stenographic notes that matters started to get moving towards a resolution of the case. More
importantly, it was only after the new trial judge reset the retaking of the testimonies to
November 9, 1990 because of petitioner's absence during the original setting on October 24,
1990 that the accused suddenly became zealous of safeguarding his right to speedy trial and
disposition.
xxx xxx xxx
"In the present case, there is no question that petitioner raised the violation against his own right
to speedy disposition only when respondent trial judge reset the case for rehearing. It is fair to
assume that he would have just continued to sleep on his right a situation amounting to
laches had the respondent judge not taken the initiative of determining the non-completion of
the records and of ordering the remedy precisely so he could dispose of the case, The matter
could have taken a different dimension if during all those ten years between 1979 when accused
filed his memorandum and 1989 when the case was reraffled, the accused showed signs of
asserting his right which was granted him in 1987 when the new constitution took effect, or at
least made some overt act (like a motion for early disposition or a motion to compel the
stenographer to transcribe the stenographic notes) that he was not waiving it. As it is, his,
silence would have to be interpreted as a waiver of such right."24
In the instant Petition, however, the accused had been assertively and assiduously invoking his
right to a speedy disposition even before the case was submitted for decision on June 20,
1990.25 In fact, he has already filed an Omnibus Motion to Dismiss,26 a Motion to Resolve27 and
a Reiterative Motion for Early Resolution,28 all of which have fallen on deaf ears in the
Sandiganbayan. Thus, in the light of the foregoing circumstances, he cannot be said to have
slept on his rights, much less waived the assertion thereof. Quite the contrary, he has been
persistent in his demand for the eventual disposition of the criminal case against him.
Indeed, petitioner has been kept in the dark as to the final outcome of the case, which was
deemed submitted for decision more than ten years ago. And though such failure or inaction may
not have been deliberately intended by respondent court, its unjustified delay has nonetheless
caused just as much vexation and oppression, in violation of the right of petitioner to a speedy
disposition of his case. Hence, his reliance on the aforementioned cases for the dismissal of the
criminal case against him may be sustained, not so much on the basis of the right to a speedy
trial, but on the right to a speedy disposition of his case, which is of broader and more
appropriate application under the circumstances.
In Dela Pea v. Sandiganbayan,29 penned by Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr., the Court laid
down certain guidelines to determine whether the right to a speedy disposition has been
violated, as follows:
"The concept of speedy disposition is relative or flexible. A mere mathematical reckoning of the
time involved is not sufficient. Particular regard must be taken of the facts and circumstances
peculiar to each case. Hence, the doctrinal rule is that in the determination of whether that right
has been violated, the factors that may be considered and balanced are as follows: (1) the length
of the delay; (2) the reasons for the delay; (3) the assertion or failure to assert such right by the
accused; and (4) the prejudice caused by the delay."30
As earlier discussed, more than ten years has lapsed since the subject case has been deemed
submitted for decision. The delay cannot at all be attributed to petitioner, who has neither
utilized dilatory tactics nor undertaken any procedural device to prolong the proceedings. As a
matter of fact, he has been continuously pushing for the resolution of his case even during the
early stages of the prosecution. Moreover, it is undeniable that such delay has caused much
prejudice, distress and anxiety to herein petitioner, whose career as bank executive and
businessman has suffered the stigma of being shackled to an unresolved criminal prosecution,
virtually hanging like a Damocles' sword over his head for more than a decade. We need not
stress the consequences and problems inherent in this pending litigation and/or criminal
prosecution which include the prospects of unrealized business transactions, stagnant
professional growth, hampered travel opportunities and a besmirched reputation. Furthermore, it
is worth noting that petitioner has been charged merely as an accessory after the fact due to his
being a senior executive of the bank where the principal accused tried to deposit the stolen
money. Clearly then, the dismissal sought by herein petitioner is justified under the
circumstances and in accordance with the guidelines set forth in the above-cited case.
Procedural Issue:
Mandamus as an Appropriate Remedy
Mandamus is a proper recourse for citizens who seek to enforce a public right and to compel the
performance of a public duty, most especially when mandated by the Constitution.31 To
reiterate, the right of the accused to the speedy disposition of a case is a right guaranteed under
the fundamental law. Correlatively, it is the bounden duty of a court, as mandated by the
Constitution, to speedily dispose of the case before it. Thus, a party to a case may demand, as a
matter mandated by the Constitution, expeditious action from all officials who are tasked with
the administration of justice.32
Ideally, a petition for mandamus lies to compel the performance of a ministerial but not of a
discretionary duty.33 More specifically, persons or public officials may be directed to act with or
to exercise discretion, but not as to how that discretion should be exercised. However, our
jurisprudence is replete with exceptions in this matter. Thus, it has been held that in a case
where there is "gross abuse of discretion, manifest injustice or palpable excess of authority," the
writ may be issued to control precisely the exercise of such discretion.34
As discussed above, the Sandiganbayan's inordinate delay in deciding the subject criminal case
prejudiced the right of petitioner to a speedy disposition of his case. Such undue delay can be
characterized as no less than a grave abuse of discretion, resulting in manifest injustice on the
part of petitioner. In view of these circumstances, the case falls squarely into the established
exception and will justify this Court's action of substituting the discretion of respondent with that
of its own.
In the very recent case Lopez Jr. v. Office of the Ombudsman et al.,35 the Court deemed it
appropriate to dismiss directly the criminal suit before the Sandiganbayan in the interest of the
speedy disposition thereof. Thus, it ruled as follows:
"x x x [T]his Court applying the ruling in the Roque case, citing Tatad, likewise resolves to directly
dismiss the informations already filed before the Sandiganbayan against petitioner 'in the
interest of the speedy disposition of case' "
We find that the circumstances obtaining in the action cited above are similar to those in the
instant Petition and thus warrant the same course of action; namely, dismissal of the case
against herein petitioner. However, no administrative sanction against respondent court or its
members can be meted out in the present proceedings. Due process requires that before such
penalty can be imposed, the proper administrative proceedings must be conducted, as in fact
one is already being undertaken in AM No. 00-8-05-SC entitled "Re: Problem of Delays in Cases
Before the Sandiganbayan."
Epilogue
In sum, we hold that the dismissal of the criminal case against petitioner for violation of his right
to a speedy disposition of his case is justified by the following circumstances: (1) the 10-year
delay in the resolution of the case is inordinately long; (2) petitioner has suffered vexation and
oppression by reason of this long delay; (3) he did not sleep on his right and has in fact
consistently asserted it, (4) he has not contributed in any manner to the long delay in the
resolution of his case, (5) he did not employ any procedural dilatory strategies during the trial or
raised on appeal or certiorari any issue to delay the case, (6) the Sandiganbayan did not give any
valid reason to justify the inordinate delay and even admitted that the case was one of those
that got "buried" during its reorganization, and (7) petitioner was merely charged as an
accessory after the fact.
For too long, petitioner has suffered in agonizing anticipation while awaiting the ultimate
resolution of his case. The inordinate and unreasonable delay is completely attributable to the
Sandiganbayan. No fault whatsoever can be ascribed to petitioner or his lawyer. It is now time to
enforce his constitutional right to speedy disposition and to grant him speedy justice.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby GRANTED and, as against petitioner, Criminal Case No. 6672
pending before the Sandiganbayan is DISMISSED. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 165975 September 13, 2007
PAYAKAN G. TILENDO, Petitioner,
vs.
OMBUDSMAN and SANDIGANBAYAN, Respondents.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This petition for certiorari1 with prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order assails
the 13 January 2004 Resolution2 and the 14 October 2004 Order3 of the Office of the
Ombudsman (Ombudsman) in Case No. OMB-M-C-02-0632-K. The Ombudsman found probable
cause against Payakan G. Tilendo (Tilendo) for malversation under Article 217 of the Revised
Penal Code (RPC) and violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (RA 3019) or the Anti-
Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The Facts
In 1993, Tilendo was appointed as President of the Cotabato City State Polytechnic College
(CCSPC).
In 1996, the CCSPC had an appropriation of P6 million for the construction of its Agriculture
Building and Science Academic Building.4 The Department of Budget and Management Regional
Office in Cotabato City released P5.7 million to the CCSPC, after deducting the 5% reserve. Out of
this amount, P3,496,797 was allocated for the construction of the Agriculture Building. The
release of this amount to CCSPC was evidenced by the following Notices of Cash Allocation
(NCA): (a) P237,500 per NCA dated 23 January 1996; (b) P702,640 per NCA dated 3 June 1996;
(c) P763,477 per NCA dated 19 September 1996; and (d) P1,793,180 per NCA dated 4 October
1996.
In December 1998, the "Concerned Faculty Members" of the CCSPC filed before the Ombudsman
a letter-complaint against Tilendo for violation of RA 3019.
The complaint basically alleged that Tilendo enriched himself and his family while he was
President of the CCSPC, using government funds for personal purposes. The complaint likewise
accused Tilendo of diverting and misusing the funds allocated for the construction of the CCSPC
Agriculture Building. The complaint pertinently reads:
3. Sometime in the late part of 1995, the decades-old academic main building was demolished
on instruction of Dr. Tilendo. Coincidentally, an allotment of P6,000,000.00 was released by the
Department of Budget and Management for the construction of an agricultural building in the
college satellite campus at Rebuken, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. x x x There are no
engineering designs, plans and bill of materials. The contractor, Mr. Mohammad Oliver Uka, who
is his nephew was so obedient to Dr. Tilendo that he blindly obeyed his instructions.
Instead of utilizing the allotment for putting-up the agricultural building, he only instructed Mr.
Uka to buy steel bars, cement, sand and gravel and hollow blocks. Other materials like lumber.
G.I. sheets were taken from the scrap materials of the demolished academic school building. x x
x This illegal act was in connivance with his nephew-contractor MR. MOHAMMAD OLIVER "BOY"
UKA who is subservient to all the wishes and decisions of his uncle Dr. Tilendo. We believe that
only an actual inspection of the building can prove the truth. He and his Budget Officer MR.
PASTOR T. TAGURA has (sic) many ways to conceal facts and justify their actions. Any document
that will show an implementation of the project is a mere fabrication in cahoots with other
government officials to cover-up his anomalous activities and enrich himself while in office.
The conversion of [Tilendos] 2-door apartment into a 3-storey building took place while the
agricultural building is being constructed. Truckloads of construction materials were delivered
from the Pigcawayan Hardware in the Poblacion Pigcawayan, Cotabato and other hardware in
Cotabato City to two (2) destinations his house in Pigcawayan and the house of his 3rd wife,
MS. SAMSIA IBRAHIM.5
On 2 February 1999, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao (Deputy Ombudsman-
Mindanao) forwarded the anonymous complaint, docketed as CPL-MIN-99-003, to the then
Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (Ministry of Education) for the conduct of a fact-finding
investigation.
The Ministry of Education transmitted the complaint to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of
the CCSPC to decide on who should conduct the investigation.
In a letter dated 19 March 1999, Commission on Higher Education (CHED) Chairman Angel C.
Alcala instructed CHED Region XII Director, Dr. Carmen V. Dormitorio (Dormitorio), to form and
head a committee, together with two other members, which would investigate on the complaints
against Tilendo, among others.
On 28 June 1999, the two investigating members of Dormitorios committee reported that it was
the Commission on Audit (COA) which could determine whether the government funds were
properly used or misused. The CHED alleged that it had neither the authority to examine the
CCSPCs records nor the technical knowledge of government accounting and auditing
procedures.
The Deputy Ombudsman-Mindanao also endorsed the anonymous complaint to the National
Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Region XII for the conduct of a fact-finding investigation.
Subsequently, the NBI subpoenaed Tilendo several times and informed him of the complaints
against him.6 Tilendo, through counsel, requested for several extensions of time to submit his
counter-affidavit. It was only on 22 October 1999 that he filed his counter-affidavit.7
On 10 March 2000, the NBI filed a Report on the investigation confirming that, despite the
P10,080,000 three-year allocation for the construction of the Agriculture Building, only P300,000
was actually used for this construction project. Further, only scrap materials from the old
Administrative Building were used. The pertinent portions of the report read:
Investigation conducted disclosed that the construction of Agricultural Building a[t] Rebuken,
Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao has an appropriation of P10,800,000.00 in three years broken down
as follows, i.e., in 1996 GAA P6,000,000.00, in 1997 GAA P1,080,000.00 and in 1998 GAA
P3,000,000.00. Witnesses alleged that the project was constructed without the necessary
Engineering Designs, Plans and Programs of Work. Most of the materials used were scrap
materials of the demolished Old Administrative Building at CCSPC Campus, Cotabato City and the
estimated amount spent for the said project did not exceed P300,000.00. The said allegations
were corroborated by the COA Special Audit finding conducted on September 1996. The same
COA report further states that the balance was used in the construction of the Science Building
and the Makeshift Building at Main Campus. However, the realignment of such funds do not have
the AUTHORITY from the DBM. Inspection conducted by the NBI Investigators disclosed that the
project at Rebuken, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao was not completed and some of the materials
used were indeed scrap.8
xxxx
COMMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS:
xxx
The alleged Program of Works prepared by ENGR. HASANADDIN S. MAMA, designated Project
Engineer of CCSPC in 1996 per directive of [Tilendo] did not jibe or correspond to the P6 million
appropriation of the said project without mentioning the additional budget of the project in 1997
and 1998, as what was prepared was only P1.05 million budget only.
The Counter-Affidavit of President Payakan G. Tilendo did not fully explain the P6 million budget
of the Construction of Agricultural Building at Rebuken Sultan, Kudarat, Maguindanao which is
the subject of this investigation, rather it pertains to the Construction of Extension (4th Floor) of
Academic Building in the amount of P1,865,000.00. x x x
The admission of [Tilendo] in his Counter-Affidavit that the project had been completed in
accordance with the funds duly allocated thereto, and in consonance with the government
bidding procedures, Accounting and Auditing regulations and all other legal documents are
devoid of merit considering that the documents submitted showed that it did not respond to the
questioned project.
The attached publication of the Invitation to Bid dated February 27 to March 1, 1997 which is
published one year after the project or the Construction of the Agricultural Building at Rebuken,
Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao was started sometime in April 1996. The alleged publication seems
to be that of the Construction of the Extension of Academic Building. In the instant case, NO
AUTHORITY FOR THE REALIGNMENT OF FUNDS FROM DBM was given to the CCSPC
Management.9
On 26 April 2002, the Deputy Ombudsman-Mindanao received the NBI report charging Tilendo,
Samaon A. Ebrahim, Wilhelmina B. Monte de Ramos, and Abdulla Oliver Uka with violation of
Section 3(e) of RA 3019, and Articles 217, 218, and 219 of the RPC.
In January 2003, Tilendo filed his counter-affidavit,10 alleging, among others, that the "dragging
of the case for more than three years in preliminary investigation stage without his fault is
violative of his right to speedy disposition of cases." Tilendo also denied the allegations against
him, insisting that the complaint was aimed purely at harassing him. Tilendo claimed that the
construction of the CCSPC Agriculture Building was completed using the funds allocated for it,
and following government bidding procedures and auditing regulations.
In its Resolution dated 13 January 2004, the Deputy Ombudsman-Mindanao disposed of the
complaint, as follows:
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, this Office finds probable cause to believe that the crime
of Malversation and Violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019 were committed and that respondent
DR. PAYAKAN G. TILENDO is probably guilty thereof. Consequently, let the herein attached
Informations be filed with the proper court.
Further, the charges against respondents SAMAON A. EBRAHIM, WHILHELMINA B. MONTE DE
RAMOS, ABDULLA OLIVER UKA, and NESTOR VILLARIN are hereby DISMISSED for insufficiency of
evidence.
Lastly, the National Bureau of Investigation is hereby directed to forward to the Office of the
Special Prosecutor the original copy of their report, subject matter of the instant case, together
with its annexes.
SO RESOLVED.11
Tilendo moved for reconsideration which the Ombudsman denied in its Order dated 14 October
2004.
Hence, this petition.
The Ruling of the Ombudsman
The Ombudsman found probable cause against Tilendo for malversation under Article 217 of the
RPC and violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019.
The Ombudsman found that since Tilendo received the P3,496,797 appropriated and released to
the CCSPC for the construction of the Agriculture Building, Tilendo, as head of the CCSPC, is
accountable for this amount. Tilendo, however, failed to account for the fund.
The Ombudsman found several lapses in the disbursement of the funds making it impossible for
Tilendo to liquidate the amount. First, the construction of the Agriculture Building was
haphazardly done. Second, there was no bidding for the construction project as required by law.
Third, scrap materials were used in the construction. Fourth, there was no showing when the
construction was completed and whether the construction was according to the alleged plans.
Finally, the funds for the construction of the Agriculture Building were used for another building
within the CCSPC main campus. However, Tilendo failed to show the actual amount used for the
construction of this other building.
The Ombudsman also found that Tilendos acts caused undue injury to the government through
bad faith. The amount released for the construction of the Agriculture Building could not be
liquidated and was presumed to have been lost due to Tilendos misappropriation. The use of
scrap materials for the construction of a supposedly new building, while it might bring savings to
the government, was actually hazardous to the lives of those who would use the building.
The Issues
Tilendo seeks the reversal of the assailed resolutions on the following grounds:
1. The Ombudsman acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction in disregarding his constitutional right to speedy disposition of cases.
2. The Ombudsman acted with grave abuse of discretion in finding probable cause against him
for malversation under Article 217 of the RPC and for violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019, as
amended.12
The Ruling of this Court
The petition has no merit.
On Tilendos right to speedy disposition of cases
Tilendo contends that the cases against him dragged for more than three years in preliminary
investigation phase without his fault. The anonymous letters addressed to the Ombudsman were
dated 4 and 28 December 1998. The Ombudsman referred the matter to the NBI which required
Tilendo to file his counter-affidavit, which he did only on 22 October 1999. Nothing was heard
from the NBI or the Ombudsman until January 2003 when the Ombudsman directed Tilendo to
submit his counter-affidavit to the various criminal charges against him. According to Tilendo, the
inordinate delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation violates his right to speedy
disposition of cases.
The right to "a speedy disposition of cases" is enshrined in the Constitution. Section 16 of Article
III of the Constitution provides: "All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their
cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative bodies." This right, however, is
considered violated only when the proceedings is attended by vexatious, capricious, and
oppressive delays, which are absent in this case.13
The concept of speedy disposition of cases is relative or flexible.14 A simple mathematical
computation of the time involved is insufficient. The facts and circumstances peculiar to each
case must be examined.15 In ascertaining whether the right to speedy disposition of cases has
been violated, the following factors must be considered: (1) the length of delay; (2) the reasons
for the delay; (3) the assertion or failure to assert such right by the accused; and (4) the
prejudice caused by the delay.16
In this case, there was no unreasonable delay to speak of because the preliminary investigation
stage officially began when the NBI filed before the Ombudsman a complaint against Tilendo for
violation of the relevant provisions of RA 3019 and the RPC. Contrary to Tilendos view, the
preliminary investigation did not automatically commence upon the filing of the anonymous
letters in the Ombudsman.17
Administrative Order No. 07 (AO 7), as amended, or the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the
Ombudsman outlines the procedure applicable to all criminal and administrative complaints
cognizable by the Ombudsman. Section 2, Rule II of AO 7 clearly states that "upon evaluating the
complaint, the investigating officer shall recommend whether it may be: (a) dismissed outright
for want of palpable merit; (b) referred to respondent for comment; (c) endorsed to the proper
government office or agency which has jurisdiction over the case; (d) forwarded to the
appropriate office or official for fact-finding investigation; or (e) referred for administrative
adjudication; or (f) subjected to a preliminary investigation."
Significantly, the Court held in Raro v. Sandiganbayan,18 that by referring the complaint to the
NBI, the Ombudsman did not thereby delegate the conduct of the preliminary investigation of the
case to the NBI. What was delegated was only the fact-finding function, preparatory to the
preliminary investigation still to be conducted by the Ombudsman.
In this case, after the fact-finding investigation, the NBI reported its findings to the Ombudsman
and consequently filed a complaint against Tilendo for various criminal charges. If we consider
the fact-finding investigation conducted by the NBI as part of the preliminary investigation stage,
then the NBI served a conflicting role. The NBI acted as the investigating body on the charges
against Tilendo, and thereafter, acted as the complainant against Tilendo. This is absurd. What
the NBI clearly did, in accordance with Section 2(d) of Rule II of AO 7, was to analyze the facts
and gather evidence which could either exonerate or further implicate Tilendo in the offenses
charged.
Further, the NBI is not among those authorized under Section 3, Rule II of AO 7 to conduct
preliminary investigations for complaints cognizable by the Ombudsman, to wit:
1) Ombudsman Investigators;
2) Special Prosecuting Officers;
3) Deputized Prosecutors;
4) Investigating Officials authorized by law to conduct preliminary investigations; or
5) Lawyers in the government service, so designated by the Ombudsman.
Even assuming there was delay in the termination of the preliminary investigation, Tilendo is
deemed to have slept on his right to a speedy disposition of cases. From 22 October 1999, when
he submitted to the NBI his counter-affidavit, after asking for several extensions of time, Tilendo
did nothing until December 2002. It seems that Tilendo was insensitive to the implications and
contingencies of the projected criminal prosecution posed against him. He did not take any step
whatsoever to accelerate the disposition of the matter. Tilendos inaction gives the impression
that he did not object to the supervening delay, and hence it was impliedly with his
acquiescence.19 He did not make any overt act like, for instance, filing a motion for early
resolution. He asserted his right to a speedy disposition of cases only when the Deputy
Ombudsman-Mindanao required him to file his counter-affidavit to the NBI complaint.
Tilendos contention of violation of his right to speedy disposition of cases must fail. There was
no unreasonable and unjustifiable delay which attended the resolution of the complaints against
him in the preliminary investigation phase.
On the finding of probable cause for the offenses charged
The Ombudsman conducts preliminary investigations in accordance with Section 3, Rule 112 of
the Rules of Court, subject to the provisions in Section 4, Rule II of AO 7.
A preliminary investigation is an inquiry or proceeding to determine whether there is sufficient
ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent
is probably guilty thereof, and should be held for trial.20 Stated differently, during the
preliminary investigation, the prosecutor, or the Ombudsman in this case, determines whether
there is probable cause to hold the respondent for trial.1wphi1
Probable cause is the "existence of such facts and circumstances as would excite the belief in a
reasonable mind, acting on the facts within the knowledge of the prosecutor, that the person
charged was guilty of the crime for which he was prosecuted."21
In this case, the Ombudsman found probable cause against Tilendo for malversation under
Article 217 of the RPC and for violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019.
Article 217 of the RPC states:
Art. 217. Malversation of public funds or property. Presumption of malversation. Any public
officer who, by reason of the duties of his office, is accountable for public funds or property, shall
appropriate the same, or shall take or misappropriate or shall consent, or through abandonment
or negligence, shall permit any other person to take such public funds or property, wholly or
partially, or shall otherwise be guilty of the misappropriation or malversation of such funds or
property, shall suffer: x x x
Section 3(e) of RA 3019 provides:
SEC. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers
already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public
officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
xxxx
(e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party
any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative
or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable
negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government
corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions.
This Court, as a rule, does not interfere with the Ombudsmans determination of probable cause
to accord respect to the discretion granted to the Ombudsman and for reasons of practicality.
Otherwise, courts would be swamped with petitions to review the Ombudsmans findings in
preliminary investigations.22 An exception to this rule is where the Ombudsman abused his
discretion by ignoring clear insufficiency of evidence to support a finding of probable cause, thus
denying the accused his right to substantive and procedural due process.23 Here, no such
conduct can be imputed on the Ombudsman. Thus, we apply the rule.
The Ombudsman found that Tilendo failed to account for the subject funds. According to the
Ombudsman, it would even be an impossibility to account for the funds due to the various lapses
in its disbursement. The Ombudsman cited the haphazard construction of the Agriculture
Building, the absence of any bidding required by law, the usage of scrap materials, the failure to
show the completion date of the building, and the failure to show the actual amount spent for the
construction of another building within the CCSPC main campus.
Tilendos claims of non-receipt of the subject funds, as well as his good faith in the transfer of the
Agriculture Building to the main campus, constitute evidentiary matters that must be ventilated
in a full-blown trial and not during the preliminary investigation. The presence or absence of the
elements of the crimes, which are by their nature evidentiary and defense matters, can be best
passed upon after a trial on the merits. A preliminary investigation is not the occasion for the full
and exhaustive display of the parties evidence. What is presented is evidence only as may
engender a well-founded belief that an offense has been committed and that the accused is
probably guilty thereof.24
Whether Tilendo, as a public officer, had custody or control of the funds allocated for the
construction of the CCSPC Agriculture Building, and whether he misappropriated the same are
matters requiring an examination of the parties evidence, which are not found in the case
records and which can be properly threshed out during the trial.
Based on the records, Tilendo, as President of the CCSPC, after being asked to liquidate the
amount released to the CCSPC for the construction of the Agriculture Building, failed to account
for the funds. Thus, the presumption that he misused or misappropriated the funds arises,
resulting to the finding of probable cause for malversation under Article 217 of the RPC. On the
other hand, the haphazard construction of the Agriculture Building, the absence of any bidding
for its construction, the usage of scrap materials for the construction of a school building in
CCSPC, and the lack of engineering plans clearly demonstrate undue injury to the government.
These circumstances support the finding of probable cause for violation of Section 3(e) of RA
3019. Whether there was bad faith on Tilendos part is a different matter which necessarily is
subject to proof.
Further, nowhere in the records did Tilendo sufficiently rebut the Ombudsmans findings or
clearly explain what actually happened to the construction project. Tilendo admits that there was
no construction of the Agriculture Building in Rebuken in 1996. Instead, a school building was
constructed using funds from the CCSPCs MOOE, which construction project used scrap
materials taken from the demolished main building.25 He also claims that the construction of the
Agriculture Building had to be transferred due to the peace and order problem in the original site.
During the fact-finding investigation, Tilendo submitted an "Invitation to Bid" which was
published in the 23 February-1 March 1997 issue of The Mindanao Newscast,26 but there was no
evidence that a bidding was held on the scheduled dates. He also presented documents
pertaining to the construction of the Academic Building and a make-shift building, not the
Agriculture Building, such as (1) a "Notice of Award" to Esperanza Gold Construction for the
extension (4th floor) of the Academic Building in the amount of P1,865,000;27 (2) a list of
materials and labor requirements with their corresponding value;28 and (3) floor plans.29
Instead of showing completion of the Agriculture Building, Tilendo introduced an
"Inspection/Evaluation Report" dated 30 April 1999 referring to the 54.71% accomplishment of
the construction of a two-storey Main Library Building inside the CCSPC Campus worth more than
P5.2 million and whose contractor was "FFJJ Construction."30
Tilendo insists that he merely exercised administrative supervision and points to the CCSPC
treasury as the recipient of the funds and to the foreman, engineers, and workers as the ones
who made the expenses for the construction. Apparently, Tilendo is suggesting that these
personnel were responsible for the misuse or misappropriation of the funds. However, Tilendo
miserably failed to substantiate his allegations. He did not even attempt to mention names to
clear his own name. Tilendo seems contented with alleging that these personnel "made the
liquidations of the amounts they spent for the construction."31 Aside from this bare allegation,
Tilendo did not introduce any convincing evidence that he had no participation whatsoever with
the unsatisfactory construction of the Agriculture Building and the apparent wastage or diversion
of the public funds.
Thus, we sustain the finding of probable cause against Tilendo for malversation under Article 217
of the RPC and for violation of Section 3(e) of RA 3019.
WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition.
SO ORDERED.