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A.M. No.

MTJ-03-1496 July 10, 2003


JUDGE ELIEZER R. DE LOS SANTOS, complainant,
vs.
JUDGE MARVIN B. MANGINO, respondent.
R E S O L U T I O N-DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:

This administrative matter refers to the Order dated 8 July 19981 of then Judge Eliezer R. de los Santos* of the
Regional Trial Court of Angeles City, Branch 59, relative to Criminal Cases Nos. 93-100 and 101 entitled "People of
the Philippines v. Jennifer Santos," which were pending in said court.

On 10 July 1998, Judge Eliezer R. de los Santos furnished the Office of the Court Administrator with a copy of his 8
July 1998 Order "for whatever action it may deem appropriate concerning the actuation of Judge Mangino of the
Municipal Trial Court of Tarlac in approving the bail bond of an accused arrested in Angeles City and residing in
Angeles City and the cases being pending also in Angeles City."

In his 8 July 1998 Order, Judge Eliezer R. de los Santos narrated:

The records show that these cases pending before this Court were filed since last February, 1993. Both the accused
and the complainant are residing in Angeles City. The accused was arrested in Angeles City and the bail bond for
the provisional liberty of the accused was issued by the Angeles City office of the Imperial Insurance Company.
According to the accused, she paid P3,000 as premium to the Imperial Insurance Company thru a certain Mr.
Antonio Tolentino. However, instead of having the said bail bond be approved by this Court, the said bail bond
was approved by Judge Marvin Mangino of Branch I of the Municipal Trial Court of Tarlac. The order of release
was also issued by the said Judge Mangino. According to the accused, she never went to Tarlac and appeared before
said Judge Mangino. She also alleged that she never went to Makati City and appeared before the Notary Public
Melchor Ancanan.

From the contents of the said bond No. 27367 issued by the Imperial Insurance Company, it was made to appear
that accused Jennifer Santos appeared before Notary Public Melchor Ancanan in Makati City on June 23, 1998.

In the same Order, Judge Eliezer R. de los Santos required Julieta M. Bautista, Clerk of Court I, Branch 1, Municipal
Trial Court, Tarlac, to appear before his court on 24 July 1998 at 8:30 a.m. to explain and shed light on the
circumstances behind the issuance and approval of bail bond No. 27367 by Judge Marvin B. Mangino of Branch 1
of the Municipal Trial Court of Tarlac, Tarlac. He also ordered Mr. Roberto Cabuay, Executive Vice-President and
General Manager of the Imperial Insurance Company and notary public Melchor Ancanan to explain in writing or
in person why they should not be held liable for making it appear that accused Jennifer Santos appeared before
notary public Ancanan in Makati City on 23 June 1998.

In her written compliance2 dated and filed on 23 July 1998, Clerk of Court Julieta M. Bautista of the Municipal Trial
Court of Tarlac explained:

Regarding the bailbond posted by the accused JENNIFER SANTOS in Crim. Cases Nos. 93-100 and 101 of
that Court, at the time the bondsman Imperial Insurance Co. who [sic] has a branch office at Tarlac, Tarlac,
presented the same for approval, he [sic] was with a woman who appears [sic] to be the accused and
believing the bond to be legal with all its attached documents, the same was approved by Hon. Marvin B.
Mangino of this Court.

For its part, on 18 August 1998, the Office of the Court Administrator referred to Judge Marvin B. Mangino
for Comment within ten (10) days from receipt thereof the 8 July 1998 Order of Judge de los Santos.3

On 2 September 1998, Judge Marvin B. Mangino submitted his Comment4 wherein he stated that he "initially
adopts" the explanation of Clerk of Court Julieta M. Bautista on the incident, and requested for a photocopy of the
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order and the bond subject of the case so that he could intelligently make a comment thereon. However, he did
not file any supplemental comment or press his request for a photocopy of the order and of the bond.

On 10 April 2002, this Court resolved to require the parties to manifest within ten (10) days from notice whether
they were willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the pleadings already filed.5

On 14 May 2002, Judge Marvin B. Mangino submitted his manifestation expressing his willingness "to submit for
resolution the above-entitled case based on the pleadings filed therein."6 Since complainant Judge de los Santos
did not submit any manifestation, the Court, in its Resolution of 19 February 2003 directed that the Resolution of
10 April 2002 be served on him at his office at the Court of Appeals. On 27 March 2003, the Court received his
Manifestation7 dated 24 March 2002, expressing his willingness to submit this matter for resolution on the basis of
the pleadings already filed.

In its Evaluation Report, the Office of the Court Administrator stated:

Section 17 (a), Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Court provides that –

Bail in the amount fixed may be filed with the Court where the case is pending, or, in the absence or
unavailability of the judge thereof, with another branch of the same court within the province, city or
municipality other than where the case is pending, bail may be filed also with any regional trial court of
said place, or, if no judge there is available, with any metropolitan judge, municipal trial judge or municipal
circuit trial judge therein.

Thus, bail may be filed with the same court where the case is pending. In the absence or unavailability of
the judge thereof, it may [sic] filed with another branch of the same court within the province or city. If
the accused is arrested in a province, city or municipality other than where the case is pending, bail may
be filed also with any regional trial court of said place, or, if no judge there is available, with any
metropolitan judge, municipal trial judge or municipal circuit trial judge therein.

In the instant case, the accused Jennifer Santos was not arrested. That being the case, she should have filed
her bail bond with the court where her case was pending, i.e., the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City. In
the absence of the judge thereof, it could be done at another branch of the same court within the province
of Pampanga or City of Angeles. Instead, accused Jennifer Santos filed her bond in the Municipal Trial
Court of Tarlac, respondent Judge Marvin B. Mangino, presiding, who approved the same and ordered his
[sic] release from custody. Res ipsa loquitor. Respondent Judge’s act is clearly irregular and is in violation
of the rules on the matter.

and recommended, as follows:

… that respondent Judge Marvin B. Mangino of the Municipal Trial Court of Tarlac, Branch I, be DECLARED
guilty of misconduct for non-observance of Section 17(a), Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Court, a less
serious offense under Section 4, Rule 140, supra, for which he should be ordered to pay a FINE of P5,000.

As regards Section 17 (a), Rule 114 of the Rules of Court, cited by the Court Administrator, this Court held in Cruz
v. Yaneza:8

The foregoing provision anticipates two (2) situations. First, the accused is arrested in the same province,
city or municipality where his case is pending. Second, the accused is arrested in the province, city or
municipality other than where his case is pending. In the first situation, the accused may file bail in the
court where his case is pending or, in the absence or unavailability of the judge thereof, with another branch
of the same court within the province or city. In the second situation, the accused has two (2) options.
First, he may file bail in the court where his case is pending or, second, he may file bail with any regional
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trial court in the province, city or municipality where he was arrested. When no regional trial court judge
is available, he may file bail with any metropolitan trial judge, municipal trial judge or municipal circuit
trial judge therein.

The case at bar falls under the first situation mentioned in Cruz v. Yaneza because the accused, Jennifer Santos,
was arrested in Angeles City and Criminal Cases Nos. 93-100 and 101, which were filed against her and under which
she was arrested, were pending with Branch 59 of the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City. Thus, the bail bond for
Jennifer Santos’ provisional liberty should have been filed in said court, or, in the absence or unavailability of the
judge thereof, with another branch of the same court within the province or city.

A mere cursory glance of the bail bond application would readily inform Judge Marvin B. Mangino that the criminal
cases in question were pending with Branch 59 of the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City. He also knew, or ought
to know, that there are many branches of the Regional Trial Court in Angeles City and in the province of Pampanga.
Thus, even if the Presiding Judge of Branch 59 was absent or unavailable, any one of the judges of the other
branches of the Regional Trial Court in Angeles City could have acted on the bail bond. Judge Marvin B. Mangino
also knew that his court is not of the same level as Branch 59 of the Regional Trial Court of Angeles City. Therefore,
he knew, or ought to know, that he had absolutely no authority or jurisdiction to approve the bail bond of accused
Jennifer Santos. Clearly, Judge Marvin B. Mangino blatantly disregarded Section 17(a), Rule 114 of the Rules of
Court.

Worse, it would further appear that Judge Marvin B. Mangino did not even try to verify the authenticity of the bail
bond. It appears that the bail bond was notarized in Makati City, although the bonding company has a branch
office in Tarlac, Tarlac. He should have inquired why it was notarized in Makati City. It is obvious that he solely
relied on the clerk of court and approved the bail bond on the basis of the "findings" of the clerk of court. He
admitted this dereliction of duty to make an independent assessment of the bail bond application when he adopted
as part of his Comment the compliance of his clerk of court.

It is thus patent that Judge Marvin B. Mangino failed to exert such conscientiousness, studiousness, and
thoroughness expected and demanded of a judge. He was, therefore, remiss in observing the conduct expected of
a member of the judiciary.9

A judge’s conduct should be above reproach, and in the discharge of his judicial duties he should be conscientious,
studious, thorough, courteous, patient, punctual, just, impartial.10 As an advocate of justice and a visible
representation of the law, he is expected to keep abreast with and be proficient in the application and
interpretation of the law. When the law is sufficiently basic, a judge owes it to his office to simply apply it; anything
less than that would be gross ignorance of the law.

Further, a judge should exhibit more than a cursory acquaintance with the basic legal norms and precepts as well
as with statutes and procedural rules. It is his pressing responsibility to be diligently acquainted with the law and
jurisprudence and the changes therein not only because the study thereof is a never-ending and ceaseless process
but also for the reason that ignorance of the law, which everyone is bound to know, excuses no one, not even
judges.11 Having accepted his exalted position as a member of the judiciary, Judge Marvin B. Mangino owes it to
the public and to the court over which he presides to maintain professional competence at all times and to have
the basic rules at the palm of his hands.12

Judge Marvin B. Mangino failed to live up to these standards. Not only did he approve the bail bond of the accused
without the requisite authority to do so, his manner of doing so showed a flagrant disregard for the applicable
procedural law he had sworn to uphold and serve. Unfamiliarity with the Rules of Court is a sign of incompetence
which goes against Canon 3, specifically Rule 3.01, of the Code of Judicial Conduct.13 To disregard the law when one
has become familiar with it is worse because bad faith comes in.

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This palpable disregard of the procedural law on bail or gross ignorance thereof, which also amounted to conduct
grossly prejudicial to the best interest of the service, renders Judge Marvin B. Mangino administratively liable as
recommended by the Office of the Court Administrator. Under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, the Court may
impose its authority upon erring judges whose actuations, on their face, would show gross incompetence,
ignorance of the law or misconduct.14

A brief survey on the existing jurisprudence on the matter reveals that for similar conduct, less severe penalties
were imposed. In Paz v. Tiong,15 this Court imposed upon the respondent judge of the Municipal Trial Court of
Bolinao, Pangasinan, a fine of P3,000 for signing the bail bond and the order of release of an accused whose case
was pending before the Regional Trial Court of Alaminos, Pangasinan, absent any showing that the judge presiding
over the same was unavailable. In Adapon v. Domagtoy,16 this Court fined the respondent judge of the Municipal
Circuit Trial Court of Santa Monica-Burgos, Surigao del Norte, in the amount of P10,000 for ordering the release
of an accused whose cases were pending before the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Dapa, Surigao del Norte,
notwithstanding the fact, that the accused was neither arrested nor did he surrender to the authorities before the
order of release was issued and that the judge having jurisdiction over the cases was not shown to be unavailable.
In the more recent case of Panganiban v. Cupin-Tesorero,17 this Court imposed the penalty of fine in the amount
of P20,000 on respondent Municipal Circuit Trial Court judge of Silang-Amadeo, Cavite who granted bail and
ordered the release of the accused whose case was pending with the Regional Trial Court of Cavite by relying on
the representations made by the process server of the latter court that the presiding judge therein was absent.

Under the factual milieu in this case, respondent Judge Marvin B. Mangino deserves a penalty higher than a fine
of P5,000 recommended by the Office of the Court Administrator. A fine of P15,000 is in order in light of the ruling
of this Court in Panganiban v. Cupin-Tesorero.

It is rather a sad commentary to make that this is not the first time that a complaint involving irregular approval
of bail bond and issuance of order of release was brought before this Court.18 Some judges refuse to learn from the
lessons of previous rulings of this Court. Indeed, some are difficult to reform. This Court takes this opportunity to
once again remind the judges of lower courts of their role as the embodiment of competence, integrity and
independence.19 They should always keep in mind that in order to achieve justice, they should diligently ascertain
and conscientiously apply the law in relation to the facts of each case they hear and then decide the same, unswayed
by partisan interests, public opinion or fear of criticism. The pursuit of excellence must be their guiding principle.
This is the least that judges can do to sustain the trust and confidence which the public reposed on them and the
institution they represent.20

WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Marvin B. Mangino of the Municipal Trial Court of Tarlac, Tarlac, Branch 1, is
hereby found GUILTY of grave misconduct, gross ignorance of the law and conduct prejudicial to the best interest
of the service and is hereby FINED in the amount of Fifteen Thousand (P15,000) Pesos, with a warning that a
repetition of the same or commission of similar acts in the future will be dealt with more severely.

SO ORDERED.

Vitug, Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

4
A.M. No. MTJ-01-1384 April 11, 2002
(Formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 00-970-MTJ)
RASMIA U. TABAO, complainant,
vs.
ACTING PRESIDING JUDGE ACMAD T. BARATAMAN, MTCC, BRANCH 1, MARAWI CITY, respondent.
PUNO, J.:

The present administrative case stems from an affidavit-complaint1 filed by complainant Rasmia U. Tabao charging
respondent Judge Acmad Barataman, in his capacity as acting presiding judge of MTCC, Branch 1, Marawi City,
with gross ignorance of the law and grave abuse of discretion.

Complainant Rasmia Tabao is the private complainant in Criminal Case No. 9106 entitled "People vs. Samsodin M.
Tabao" for abandonment of minor. It appears that on July 16, 1998, respondent judge issued an Order2 granting the
motion for bail on recognizance filed by the father of the accused pursuant to R.A. No. 6036. The motion of the
prosecution to cancel bail on the ground that accused is a certified public accountant and can afford to post cash
bond was denied by respondent judge in an Order dated June 30, 1999, 3 stating that the law, in allowing bail on
recognizance, does not distinguish whether an accused is rich or poor.1âwphi1.nêt

Complainant avers that respondent committed grave abuse of discretion in granting the motion for bail on
recognizance because (1) it was filed not by the accused but by his father, Hadji Yusoph Tabao; (2) the prosecutor
was not furnished a copy of the motion and there was no hearing conducted; (3) it lacked the sworn statement of
the accused signed in the presence of two witnesses; and (4) the motion and its supporting affidavit were signed
by the father of the accused. Complainant also contends that the accused is not poor but is a certified public
accountant and operates a transport business in Metro Manila. Thus, it is urged that he should not have been
released on recognizance since he could put up a cash bond.

In his comment, respondent judge alleges that the crime of abandonment of a minor is covered by the Rules on
Summary Procedure and hence bail on recognizance is not required as the court can immediately arraign and try
the accused, pursuant to Section 13 of the Rules; that if he were the acting judge when the criminal case was filed,
he would not issue a warrant of arrest but order the immediate arraignment and trial of the case and there would
be no need to discuss the matter of bail; and, that the court can appoint as custodian of the accused his father, a
former City Councilor of Marawi City, who qualifies as a responsible person under Section 15, Rule 144 of the Rules
of Court.

On November 6, 2001, Court Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. submitted a Memorandum 4 finding
respondent judge guilty of gross ignorance of the law for releasing the accused on recognizance before it could
acquire jurisdiction over his person. The accused was still at large when the motion for bail was filed. He likewise
found the respondent judge to have violated R.A. No. 6036. He ratiocinated: first, the law requires that the accused
sign in the presence of two witnesses of good standing in the community a sworn statement binding himself,
pending final decision of his case, to report to the Clerk of Court hearing the case periodically every two weeks. No
such sworn statement was executed by the accused and; second, in order to be released on recognizance, the
accused must be unable to post bail bond. The accused is a CPA and can afford to post bond. The Court
Administrator recommends that respondent judge be ordered to pay a fine of ₱20,000.00, considering that it is his
first offense, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar offense shall be dealt with more severely.

We agree with the finding of the Office of the Court Administrator. The respondent judge is liable in granting the
motion for bail on recognizance in clear violation of R.A. No. 6036, for the following reasons:

First. Section 1 of R.A. No. 6036 provides that "any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, bail shall not
be required of a person charged with violation of a criminal offense the prescribed penalty for which is not higher
than six months imprisonment and/or a fine of two thousand pesos, or both." Instead of bail, Section 2 states that
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the person charged "shall be required to sign in the presence of two witnesses of good standing in the community
a sworn statement binding himself, pending final decision of his case, to report to the Clerk of Court hearing his
case periodically every two weeks. The Court may, in its discretion and with the consent of the person charged,
require further that he be placed under the custody and subject to the authority of a responsible citizen in the
community who may be willing to accept the responsibility. In such a case the affidavit herein mentioned shall
include a statement of the person charged that he binds himself to accept the authority of the citizen so appointed
by the Court."

In the present case, it is not disputed that the sworn statement supporting the motion for bail filed before
respondent judge was signed, not by the accused but by his father. The failure of the accused to sign the sworn
statement is in clear contravention of the express mandate of the law that the person charged shall sign a sworn
statement binding himself to report to the Clerk of Court. This is a personal obligation imposed by R.A. No. 6036
on the accused and cannot be assumed by the custodian or responsible citizen who may be appointed by the court.
It is different from Section 15, Rule 114 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure which allows the release of the accused
on his own recognizance or that of a responsible person. R.A. No. 6036 applies to criminal cases where the
prescribed penalty is not higher than six months imprisonment and/or a fine of ₱2,000.00, or both. In the case at
bar, accused stands charged with abandonment of a minor which carries with it the imposable penalty of arresto
mayor and/or a fine of ₱500.00. Hence, it was erroneous for respondent judge to have granted the motion for bail
on the basis of the affidavit of the father of the accused.

Moreover, R.A. No. 6036 allows the release of the accused on his own recognizance only where it has been
established that he is unable to post the required cash or bail bond. The accused in this case is a CPA who is
engaged in the transport business. We reject the contention of respondent judge that the law does not distinguish
whether the accused is rich or poor. The distinction is all to clear for the law explicitly provides that the accused
can be released on his own recognizance only if he is able to clearly establish that he is unable to post cash or bail
bond.

We reiterate the rule that although a judge may not be subjected to disciplinary action for every erroneous order
or decision he renders, that relative immunity is not a license to be negligent or abusive and arbitrary in performing
his adjudicatory prerogatives. Judges who wantonly misuse the powers vested in them by law cannot render fair
and impartial justice.1âwphi1.nêt

Second. Respondent judge does not deny that the accused in Criminal Case No. 9106 was at large when the motion
for bail on recognizance was filed and subsequently granted. Bail is the security given for the release of a person in
custody of the law.5 Section 15, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that the court may
release a person in custody on his own recognizance or that of a responsible person. It is a basic principle that bail
is intended to obtain provisional liberty and cannot be granted before custody of an accused has been acquired by
the judicial authorities by his arrest or voluntary surrender. It is self-evident that a court cannot grant provisional
liberty to one who is actually in the enjoyment of his liberty for it would be incongruous to give freedom to one
who is free. Thus, we have held that it is premature to file a motion for bail for someone whose liberty has yet to
be curtailed.6

In the case at bar, respondent judge was fully cognizant that the court had not yet acquired jurisdiction over the
person of the accused who was still at large and yet, he entertained and granted his motion for bail. In doing so,
respondent judge violated a tenet in criminal procedure which is too basic as to constitute gross ignorance of the
law. When the law violated is elementary, a judge is subject to disciplinary action.7

Indeed, the Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence.
A judge is called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules; it is
imperative that he be conversant with basic legal principles and be aware of well-settled authoritative doctrines.

6
He should strive for excellence exceeded only by his passion for truth, to the end that he be the personification of
justice and the Rule of Law.8

In the case of Comia vs. Antona,9 we found respondent judge liable for gross ignorance of the law for entertaining
an application for bail even though the court had not yet acquired jurisdiction over the accused. He was fined
₱20,000.00 with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Judge Acmad T. Barataman liable for gross ignorance of the law and
imposes upon him a fine of ₱20,000.00 with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be
dealt with more severely.1âwphi1.nêt

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Kapunan, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

7
A.M. No. MTJ-00-1289 August 1, 2000
JESUSA M. SANTIAGO, complainant,
vs.
JUDGE EDUARDO U. JOVELLANOS, MCTC Alcala-Bautista, Pangasinan; ADORACION R. MARCOS,
Clerk of Court, MCTC Alcala-Bautista, Pangasinan; and CELESTINA B. CORPUZ, Clerk of Court,
Municipal Trial Court, Urdaneta, Pangasinan, respondents.
MARGARITA SANCHEZ, complainant,
vs.
JUDGE EDUARDO U. JOVELLANOS, MCTC, Alcala-Bautista, Pangasinan, respondent.
DECISION
DE LEON, JR., J.:

For resolution are (1) the verified complaint dated September 9, 1996, earlier docketed as A.M. OCA IPI No. 96-
216-MTJ, against Judge Eduardo U. Jovellanos, presiding judge of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of
Alcala-Bautista, Pangasinan, Adoracion R. Marcos, clerk of court of said MCTC, and Celestina Corpuz, clerk of
court of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Urdaneta, Pangasinan for "ignorance or blatant defiance of the law,
grave abuse of authority/discretion, gross misrepresentation/falsification and/or acts inimical to the service," and
(2) the verified complaint dated January 9, 1997, earlier docketed as A.M. No. OCA IPI 97-262-MTJ, against Judge
Edgardo U. Jovellanos for violation of the second paragraph of Section 19, Administrative Circular No. 12-94.

These two (2) verified complaints were consolidated into one (1) administrative case docketed as Adm. Matter No.
MTJ-00-1289. In her verified complaint, complainant Jesusa M. Santiago alleges that she is the private complainant
in Criminal Cases Nos. 6333-6336, 6360-6362 and 6663, all entitled: "People of the Philippines vs. Violeta Madera,"
pending before the sala of Judge Henry L. Domingo of the MTC of San Ildefonso, Bulacan. On March 26, 1996,
Madera failed to appear at the scheduled hearing of Criminal Cases Nos. 6333-6336 and 6360-6362, prompting
Judge Domingo to issue a bench warrant against her. Madera was arrested on July 2, 1996 and detained at the
municipal jail of San Ildefonso, Bulacan. She was released the following day pursuant to the Order of Release dated
April 3, 1996 issued by respondent Judge Jovellanos.

Complainant Santiago questions the propriety of the said Order of Release on two (2) grounds: first, the authority
of Judge Jovellanos to issue the said Order of Release and, second, the date of issuance thereof. Santiago points out
that Madera was arrested and detained in San Ildefonso, Bulacan and her cases were pending before the MTC of
said municipality but it was respondent judge from the MCTC of Alcala-Bautista, Pangasinan which issued the
Order of Release. Also, while Madera was arrested on July 2, 1996, the Order of Release was dated April 3, 1996.

Santiago further alleges that the MCTC of Alcala-Bautista, Pangasinan failed to forward to the MTC of San
Ildefonso, Bulacan the bail bond allegedly posted by Madera despite the letter dated August 8, 1996 of the clerk of
court of the MTC of San Ildefonso, Bulacan and the Order dated August 23, 1996 of Judge Domingo. Instead, the
MTC of San Ildefonso, Bulacan received from Clerk of Court Adoracion R. Marcos a letter dated September 3, 1996
stating that the Order dated August 23, 1996 could not be complied with due to the cancellation of Madera’s bail
bond. Attached to the letter was the Order dated August 28, 1996 of Judge Jovellanos stating that:

For failure of the accused Violeta Madera to register her bailbond in accordance with Section 14, Rule 114 of the
1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure, this Court hereby orders the cancellation of the order of release previously issued
for her provisional liberty.1

Santiago likewise assails the authority of Judge Jovellanos to issue the Order of Release dated July 3, 1996 in
connection with Criminal Case No. 6663. She avers that a warrant of arrest was issued against Madera on July 1,
1996. On July 2, 1996, Madera was arrested and detained in San Ildefonso, Bulacan but was released from custody
on the basis of said Order of Release.

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On July 29, 1996, Judge Domingo issued an Order directing the clerk of court of the MCTC of Alcala-Bautista,
Pangasinan to forward Madera’s bail bond to the MTC of San Ildefonso, Bulacan. Upon receipt thereof, Judge
Domingo noted that:

On August 6, 1996, this court received the Bail Bond posted by the accused with the MCTC of Alcala-Bautista,
Alcala, Pangasinan, together with the original of the Order of Release dated August 5, 1996.

The Court notes that the subject Bail Bond and the Order of Release are dated August 5, 1996, whereas the Order
of Release signed by the same Judge which was the basis for the release of the accused from detention is dated July
3, 1996.2

In his Answer/Comment dated August 5, 1997, Judge Jovellanos cites Section 19, Rule 114 of the 1985 Rules of
Criminal Procedure and argues that an accused must be released upon approval of the bail by any judge, who shall
forward the release papers to the court where the case is pending. He further explained that:

x x x Since the accused is from Pangasinan, she can go to any available Judge especially so that it was nighttime
when her bailbond was presented to said respondent judge.

x x x [S]ince the warrant of arrest against the accused as claimed by the complainant was issued on March 26, 1996,
it is very highly probable that accused was already aware of its existence and she was able to secure her bailbond.
Thus, the release order dated April 3, 1996 was chronologically correct.

x x x [T]he failure to send the bailbond on time to the MTC San Ildefonso was due to the fact that the accused
failed to register her bailbond within ten (10) days from the date the order of release was issued by the respondent.
Non-compliance with the order to register the bailbond shall be sufficient cause for the cancellation of the property
bond (Sec. 14, Rule 114, 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure). It is the policy of herein respondent not to send the
bailbond to the Court where the case or cases are pending unless and until the bailbond is registered within ten
(10) days from the time the order of release was issued.

xxx

Approval of bailbonds is a ministerial duty for any judge as long as the requirements are fully satisfied. When the
said bailbond was presented to herein respondent, he examined it carefully and he saw no reason why the same
should not be approved taking into account that it was sufficient in form and in substance.

When the herein respondent approved the subject bailbond, he was desirous not only to perform a judicial function
required of his office but also moved by humanitarian considerations thinking that cases involving detention
should be acted upon with dispatch.3

Meanwhile, Marcos avers:

2) It is a vital matter that she wishes to make emphasis that one of the duties of her office is ministerial in nature.
Thus, she transmits records, processes, and other vital court documents with dispatch and with proper authority
emanating only from the Court. This stress aims to establish that she was not in a position to perform her duty of
transmitting the questioned bailbond of the accused after its approval by the Court to the MTC, San Ildefonso,
Bulacan because of the following:

a) That she has no knowledge of the bailbond alluded to, much less to its appendages, i.e. release order, receipts,
tax declarations, etc., and that she never saw the bailbond presented to her nor to the Judge in the 8th MCTC,
Alcala-Bautista, Pangasinan, during the required office hours that it should have been presented. This fact can be
proven by the answer/comment of her co-respondent Clerk of Court of MTC, Urdaneta, Pangasinan.

b) That she only learned of the existence of such bailbond when she received the letter dated August 8, 1996, Annex
"B," of the Clerk of Court of MTC, San Ildefonso, Bulacan, requesting for the transmittal of the bailbond being

9
referred to. She replied to the request through her letter dated August 15, 1996, Annex "C," explaining therein that
she was not aware of the presentation and approval of said bailbond.

xxx

d) Annex "F" which is an order of the Court dated August 28, 1996 cancelled the release order and the bailbond for
that matter, due to the failure of the accused to register her bailbond. As ordered by the Court, the undersigned
respondent transmitted the same, ‘WITH DISPATCH," to the Clerk of Court, MTC, San Ildefonso, Bulacan x x x.4

For her part, respondent Corpuz, Clerk of Court, Municipal Trial Court of Urdaneta, denies having facilitated the
approval of Madera’s bail bond. She adds that:

The truth of the matter was that as far as her recollection, when the bail bond alluded to was presented to
Respondent Judge Eduardo Jovellanos, all the documents as well as the order for the Release of the accused were
all prepared and since it was already nighttime, the family of the accused begged that they be accompanied [to]
the house of Respondent Judge so that the said Order maybe signed and since herein Respondent knew personally
the accused and her family being townmates and knowing that Respondent Judge Eduardo Jovellanos certainly
would be of help and nothing is wrong if said bailbond would be approved and the subsequent Order of Release
be issued, the herein Respondent obliged thereby she accompanied the family of the accused [to] the residence of
the Judge for the approval of the said bailbond.5

She also complied with the instructions of respondent Judge Jovellanos that the original copy of the Order of
Release dated April 3, 1996 and its attachments be sent to the MTC of San Ildefonso. With respect to Criminal Case
No. 6663, she did not give any comment since there was no mention of her participation therein.

In her verified complaint, complainant Margarita Sanchez alleges that she is the private complainant in Criminal
Case No. 3712 entitled "People of the Philippines vs. James H. Orallo" pending before Branch 53 of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Rosales, Pangasinan. Orallo was arrested and detained at Rosales, Pangasinan and later
transferred to the Balungao District Jail in Balungao, Pangasinan. Despite the pendency of said case before the RTC
of Rosales, Pangasinan, Orallo posted a property bond with the MCTC of Alcala-Bautista, and thus, released from
custody by virtue of an Order of Release dated December 6, 1996 issued by respondent Judge Jovellanos.

On December 9, 1996, complainant Sanchez, accompanied by her lawyer, Atty. Dominador B. Fernando, and Mrs.
Fely Pulido who is a neighbor of the accused in that case proceeded to the office of Judge Jovellanos and requested
permission to read and examine the records relating to Orallo’s bail bond. Judge Jovellanos replied that the records
were in the possession of Atty. Isaias Asuncion. Atty. Fernando politely told Judge Jovellanos that he should have
refrained from acting on Orallo’s bail bond as the presiding judge of Branch 53 of the RTC of Rosales, Pangasinan
was not unavailable. Atty. Fernando further suggested that Judge Jovellanos take necessary action on the matter.
Judge Jovellanos assured Sanchez and Atty. Fernando that he will issue an order and that a copy thereof shall be
available the following day.

On December 10, 1996, Judge Jovellanos issued the following order:

In view of the failure of the accused James Orallo to register his bailbond in accordance with Section 14, Rule 114
of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure, this Court hereby orders the cancellation of the Order of Release and the
bailbond previously issued for his provisional liberty.6

Having secured a copy of the foregoing Order, Sanchez and Mrs. Pulido proceeded to Branch 53 of the RTC of
Rosales, Pangasinan and gave a copy of the same to its staff for comment. However, the staff explained that they
could not act on the Order because they do not have the records. Sanchez, Mrs. Pulido and Atty. Fernando again
contacted Judge Jovellanos, who informed them that the records of Orallo’s bail bond were not yet in the
possession of Branch 53. He then assured them that if Atty. Asuncion will not forward the records of the bail bond,
he or his representative will do so. Notwithstanding these assurances, Sanchez, Mrs. Pulido and Atty. Fernando
10
learned that, as of January 7, 1997, the records of the bail bond have not yet been transmitted to the RTC of Rosales,
Pangasinan.

In response to Sanchez’ complaint, Judge Jovellanos alleged that:

x x x when the bailbond was presented to the undersigned respondent, he was told by the father of the accused
that his son, has been languishing in the jail for sometime because the RTC Judge Sergio Garcia could not be
contacted as he was preparing to retire; and so the father of the accused was asking the favor of the undersigned
respondent in order to save his son from further disconforts [sic] and inconvenience, that his property bond be
approved and the undersigned respondent Judge, for humanitarian reasons and considering that upon a thorough
examination, the property bond is proper and in order, proceeded to approve his property bond and issued the
corresponding Order of Release in accordance with the Provisions of Section 14, Rule 114 of the 1985 Rules of
Criminal Procedure.

x x x respondent judge was not in possession of said property bond because it was given to the accused to be
registered with the Office of the Register of Deeds in accordance with the Provision of Section 8, Rule 114 of the
1985 Rules in Criminal Procedure x x x.

Finally, when respondent Judge found out that the RTC Presiding Judge Sergio Garcia was still holding sessions
although he was already about to retire, undersigned respondent Judge immediately issued an Order cancelling
his previous Order of Release (Annex ‘G’ Complaint) which he issued to the accused James Orallo on December 6,
1997 in Criminal case No. 3712, pending before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 53, Rosales, Pangasinan.7

On July 8, 1998, upon recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), the Third Division of this
Court resolved to consolidate A.M. OCA IPI No. 96-216-MTJ with OCA IPI No. 97-262-MTJ and to refer the cases
to Hon. Alicia B. Gonzales-Decano, Executive Judge of the RTC of Urdaneta, Pangasinan, for investigation, report
and recommendation. Surprisingly, on October 29, 1998, and subsequently on November 11, 1998, Judge Decano
dismissed both cases due to complainants’ alleged lack of interest to prosecute the same. In a Resolution dated
March 24, 1999, the Third Division required Judge Decano to explain why she ordered the dismissal of the cases
without any authority from this Court8 and simultaneously directed Vice Executive Judge Modesto C. Juanson of
the RTC of Dagupan City to conduct a thorough investigation of the complaints and to submit a report and
recommendation thereon.

In his report dated September 8, 1999, the investigating judge, Judge Modesto C. Juamson, concluded that, with
respect to A.M. OCA IPI 96-216-MTJ, Judge Jovellanos failed to observe the procedure for the release of an accused
on bail. He also found that:

x x x It is also the conclusion of this Court that the "Order of Release" dated April 3, 1996, was issued without any
approved property bond. Judge Jovellanos deliberately lied when he said he cancelled the property bond posted by
the accused for her failure to register the property within ten (10) days to the proper office. No property bond had
reached the Court [that] issued the warrant of arrest. Judge Jovellanos had taken advantage of his position as
Presiding Judge, MCTC, Alcala-Bautista, Pangasinan, knowing fully well that he issued an order for the release of
a detained person, ordered the release of Violeta Madera under "Order of Release dated April 3, 1996" even without
the approved property bond. Judge Jovellanos deliberately lied again when he issued an Order of Recall of Order
dated April 3, 1996 for failure of accused Madera to register the bailbond in accordance with Sec. 14, Rule 114 of the
1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure. Recall order dated August 28, 1996 is another instance of dishonesty. When
unable to produce the property bond, He (Jovellanos) thought of another lies by issuing said Order dated August
28, 1996. The fact that the record of Criminal Case No. 6663 was forwarded from MTC San Ildefonso, Bulacan to
RTC, Bulacan does not render the propriety of issuing the Order of Release without property bond, moot and
academic. The Order of Release on the basis of property bond is valid unless revoked by the Appellate Court.

11
The Court likewise found Celestina Corpuz having conspired and confabulated with Judge Jovellanos in the
issuance of the Order of Release dated April 3, 1996. Corpuz averred that upon instruction of Judge Jovellanos, she
sent by registered mail [a] copy of the bailbond and other pertinent documents together with the original of the
Order of Release dated April 3, 1996 as evidenced by the registry receipt attached to the letter of Adoracion Marcos.
As clerk of Court, Corpuz knows that sending an important document to MTC San Ildefonso, it must require a
registry return card or in the absence thereof, she must produce [a] certification from the post office concerned
evidencing the sending of the letter. Besides, the Court is certain that the letter will reach the addressee if really
mailed. The truth is that, in order to cover up and protect themselves (Judge Jovellanos and Corpuz) she concocted
the idea that she sent the copy of the property bond together with the Order of Release to MTC, San Ildefonso by
registered mail. The actuation of Judge Jovellanos and Corpuz pretending to have mailed the property bond
together with the Order of Release may be described as pure and simple dishonesty in the performance of their
duties. Corpuz facilitated the "Order of Release dated April 3, 1996" even without [a] covering property bond. Judge
Jovellanos cooperated for reasons known only to him. Both (Jovellanos and Corpuz) have violated their "Oath of
Office." Corpuz facilitated the Order of Release dated April 3, 1996 as evidenced by the reply letter of Adoracion
Marcos dated August 15, 1996.

xxx

Adoracion Marcos did not facilitate, participate or have any knowledge about the property bond and Order of
Release dated April 3, 1996.

xxx

As to the second Order of release dated July 3, 1996, in Criminal Case No. 6663 where Violeta Madera was ordered
arrested on July 1, 1996. x x x Again, Judge Jovellanos failed to indorse and deliver the property bond to MTC San
Ildefonso, Bulacan. The truth is that the questioned "Order of Release dated July 3, 1996" was issued without
approved property bond.9

The investigating judge recommended that Judge Jovellanos and Corpuz be dismissed from the service without
forfeiture of their retirement benefits and leave credits considering that Judge Jovellanos was already 67 years old,
half of whose body was paralyzed due to a stroke, and Corpuz’ years of service in the judiciary. Insofar as
respondent Adoracion R. Marcos is concerned, the investigating judge recommended the dismissal of the
complaint for lack of substantial evidence.

In OCA IPI No. 97-262-MTJ, the investigating judge reported that:

Judge Jovellanos’ assertion that he had cancelled the bailbond posted by James Orallo when the latter failed to
register said bond in accordance with law is another pure and simple [lie], insulting to the intelligence of the Court.
It is the duty of the respondent Judge that before he issues and releases the questioned Order of Release dated
December 6, 1996 x x x he must require the accused to register first the property bond [with] the Local Register of
Deeds (for registered property) or Local Assessor’s Office (for unregistered property). x x x

Besides, the records of either the instant administrative case or Regional Trial Court, Branch 53, Rosales,
Pangasinan (Pp vs. James Orallo, Criminal Case No. 3712-R) nor the MCTC, Alcala-Bautista, Pangasinan, do not
show the existence of the approved property bond which was the basis of the "release order dated December 6,
1996." The Order of Cancellation of the bond of James Orallo issued by Judge Jovellanos dated December 10, 1996
was done in order to appease Mrs. Margarita Sanchez and her lawyer Atty. Fernando who has been searching the
records in Criminal Case No. 3712-R, RTC, Branch 53, Rosales, Pangasinan and that of the MCTC, Alcala-Bautista
for the copy of the property bond. When Judge Jovellanos could not produce a copy of the approved property bond,
thus, he issued an order of cancellation, dated December 10, 1996.10

12
The investigating judge likewise recommended that respondent Judge Jovellanos be dismissed from the service
without forfeiture of his retirement benefits and leave credits.

The OCA upheld the findings of the investigating judge in both cases but recommends the forfeiture of the
retirement pay and leave credits of respondent Judge Jovellanos and respondent Corpuz.

This Court agrees with the factual findings of the investigating judge and the OCA. In Victorino Cruz v. Judge
Reynold Q. Yaneza,11 this Court held that:

Section 17, par. (a), of Rule 114, as amended by Administrative Circular No. 12-94, provides:

(a) ....Bail in the amount fixed may be filed with the court where the case is pending, or, in the absence of
unavailability of the judge thereof, with another branch of the same court within the province or city. If the accused
is arrested in a province, city or municipality other than where the case is pending, bail may be filed also with any
regional trial court of said place, or if no judge thereof is available, with any metropolitan trial judge, municipal
trial judge or municipal circuit trial judge therein.

The foregoing provision anticipates two (2) situations. First, the accused is arrested in the same province, city or
municipality where his case is pending. Second, the accused is arrested in the province, city or municipality other
than where his case is pending. In the first situation, the accused may file bail in the court where his case is pending,
or in the absence or unavailability of the judge thereof, with another branch of the same court within the province
or city. In the second situation, the accused has two (2) options. First, he may file bail in the court where his case
is pending or, second, he may file bail with any regional trial court in the province, city, municipality where he was
arrested. When no regional trial judge is available, he may file bail with any metropolitan trial judge, municipal
trial judge or municipal circuit trial judge therein.

Interestingly, almost all the cases wherein respondent Judge approved bail bonds and issued release orders were
not pending before his sala. To complicate matters, the accused were neither arrested nor detained within the
territorial jurisdiction of respondent Judge’s court.

xxx

xxx Since Judge Yaneza presides over MeTC-Branch 54 in Navotas, Metro Manila, his territorial jurisdiction is
confined therein. Therefore, to approve bail applications and issue corresponding release orders in cases pending
in courts outside his territorial jurisdiction, some even in courts as far as Nueva Ecija and Palawan, particularly so
where the accused are detained thereat and not in his jurisdiction and therefore cannot personally appear before
him as required, constitute ignorance of the law so gross as to amount to incompetence and even corruption.

xxx

Section 35 of BP Blg. 129 and Sections 17 and 19 of Rule 114 are to be construed and applied in conjunction with
each other. The abovecited rules do not give the Metropolitan Trial Judge blanket authority to grant applications
for bail. There are prerequisites to be complied with. First, the application for bail must be filed in the court where
the case is pending. In the absence or unavailability of the judge thereof, the application for bail may be filed with
another branch of the same court within the province or city. Second, if the accused is arrested in a province, city
or municipality other than where the case is pending, bail may be filed with any regional trial court of the place. If
no judge thereof is available, then with any metropolitan trial judge or municipal circuit trial judge therein.12

It is clear from this Court’s disquisition in Yaneza that Judge Jovellanos’ reliance on Section 19, Rule 114 of the 1985
Rules of Criminal Procedure is misplaced. Yaneza, in fact, only highlights that Judge Jovellanos, contrary to
prescribed procedures, approved the applications for bail of accused whose cases were not only pending in other
courts but who were likewise arrested and detained outside his territorial jurisdiction. It also does not appear from
the records of these cases that the judges having jurisdiction over the accused were absent or otherwise unavailable

13
to act upon their applications for bail. Worse, in A.M. OCA IPI 96-216-MTJ, Judge Jovellanos ordered the release
of Madera without the corresponding bail bond being posted.

Judge Jovellanos’ invocation of good faith and his plea that he was only moved by humanitarian considerations
cannot excuse his conduct. We have often stressed that "as an advocate of justice and a visible representation of
the law, a judge is expected to keep abreast with and be proficient in the interpretation of our laws. A judge should
be acquainted with legal norms and precepts as well as with statutes and procedural rules. Unfamiliarity with the
Rules of Court is a sign of incompetence which goes against Canon 3, specifically Rule 3.01, of the Code of Judicial
Conduct."13 Having accepted the exalted position of a judge, Judge Jovellanos owes the public and the court he sits
in proficiency in the law. He must have the basic rules at the palm of his hands as he is expected to maintain
professional competence at all times.14

Insofar as respondent Corpuz is concerned, she has evidently been remiss in the performance of her
duties.1âwphi1Although she claims that she followed the instructions of respondent Judge Jovellanos and
transmitted the records of Madera’s bail bond to the MTC of San Ildefonso, Bulacan by registered mail, the MTC
of San Ildefonso, Bulacan has yet to receive the same. As pointed out by the investigating judge, respondent Corpuz
failed to secure a registry return card or, in the absence thereof, a certification from the post office to show that
said records were mailed. Indeed, even in the absence of a registry return card or certification, "the Court is certain
that the [documents] will reach the addressee if really mailed."15 This circumstance leads us to doubt whether
respondent Corpuz actually transmitted the records to the MTC of San Ildefonso, Bulacan, and more importantly,
whether Madera indeed posted a bail bond for her temporary liberty in Criminal Case Nos. 6333-6336 and 6360-
6362. We have consistently held that the conduct required of court personnel must always be beyond reproach
and is circumscribed with a heavy burden of responsibility.16 This Court cannot countenance any act or omission
on the part of those involved in the administration of justice which would violate the norm of public accountability
and diminish, or even just tend to diminish, the faith of the people in the judiciary.17

As to the penalty that should be imposed on respondents Judge Jovellanos and Corpuz, we find the recommended
penalty of dismissal too harsh. In Yaneza, we meted upon respondent judge therein the penalty of dismissal
considering the number of times he exceeded his authority in approving applications for bail outside his territorial
jurisdiction and his persistence in doing so despite the pendency of the administrative complaint against him. This
was further aggravated by his summary approval of an application for bail in a case where the penalty imposable
was life imprisonment. However, in the case at bar, similar circumstances are wanting.

For similar conduct, less severe penalties were imposed upon two (2) erring judges, thus -

1. In Paz v. Tiong,18 we imposed upon respondent therein, a judge of the MTC of Bolinao, Pangasinan, a fine of
₱3,000.00 for signing the bail bond and the order of release of an accused whose case was pending before the RTC
of Alaminos, Pangasinan absent any showing that the judge having jurisdiction over the same was unavailable.

2. In Adapon v. Domagtoy,19 we fined respondent judge of the MCTC of Santa Monica-Burgos, Surigao del Norte in
the amount of ₱10,000.00 for ordering the release of an accused whose cases were pending before the MCTC of
Dapa, Surigao del Norte notwithstanding the fact that the accused was neither arrested nor did he surrender to
the authorities before the order of release was issued, and that the judge having jurisdiction over the cases was
likewise unavailable.

Considering the advanced age and poor health of respondent Judge Jovellanos and the long years of service in the
judiciary of respondent Corpuz, we find that suspension from the service will be sufficient punishment for their
acts complained of.

WHEREFORE, the complaint against Adoracion Marcos is DISMISSED for lack of merit. Respondent Judge
Eduardo U. Jovellanos is hereby SUSPENDED, without pay, for a period of one (1) year while respondent Celestina

14
Corpuz is likewise SUSPENDED, without pay, for a period of four (4) months, with the WARNING that a repetition
of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.

SO ORDERED.

Mendoza, Quisumbing, and Buena JJ., concur.


Bellosillo, (Chairman), J., on leave.

15
A.M. No. 00-1529-RTJ April 9, 2002
(Formerly A.M. No. OCA-IPI-97-453-RTJ)
ATTY. FRED HENRY V. MARALLAG and NORMA F. FERI, complainants,
vs.
JUDGE LORETO CLORIBEL-PURUGGANAN, RTC, Branch 3, Tuguegarao, Cagayan, respondent.
KAPUNAN, J.:

This is an administrative complaint filed by Fred Henry V. Marallag and his client Norma F. Feri against respondent
Judge Loreto Cloribel-Purugganan of the Regional Trial Court of Tuguegarao, Cagayan, Branch 3 for gross
incompetence, gross ignorance of the law, oppression and grave abuse of discretion, relative to Criminal Case No.
7316.

The records show that on December 3, 1996, an information for murder was filed against Segismundo Duarte
charging him with the murder of Ferdinand T. Feri. Subsequently, Duarte filed a petition for bail.1âwphi1.nêt

On January 28, 1997, the date set for the hearing of the petition for bail, complainant Marallag, the private
prosecutor handling Criminal Case No. 7316, manifested that Duarte first had to be arraigned in order that the trial
court may acquire jurisdiction over said accused. Upon arraignment, Duarte pleaded Not Guilty to the offense
charged. The prosecution informed the court that during the preliminary investigation before the Municipal Trial
Court of Tuguegarao, Cagayan, Duarte admitted to the killing of Ferdinand Feri but claimed that he did it in self-
defense. Thereafter, the prosecution orally moved that the reverse order of trial be conducted (i.e., that the defense
shall be the first to present its evidence), in view of Duarte's admission of the killing.

Respondent Judge ordered Duarte to clarify in writing whether he admits to the killing of Ferdinand Feri or not.
She likewise set for oral argument the next day, January 29, 1997, the issue of whether the reverse order of trial
should be followed in the criminal case.

On January 29, 1997, after both parties were heard, respondent Judge granted the motion to conduct the trial in
reverse order. The defense moved to reconsider the trial court's ruling. Subsequently, the trial court required the
parties to submit their respective position papers on the issue of whether the trial should be in the reverse order.
On February 4, 1997, the prosecution submitted a Memorandum of Authorities while the defense submitted its
Position Paper.

In an Order dated February 26, 1997, respondent Judge ruled that the prosecution shall first present evidence
regarding the petition for bail. The order stated in part:

xxx

Let this case be reset anew for hearing of the application for bail on March 11 and 12, 1997, at 8:30 o'clock in the
morning, since the accused refused to be presented during the last hearing, the prosecution is directed to get ready
with their witnesses to be presented if any to prove their opposition. Otherwise the Court will consider this Motion
for Bail submitted for resolution.

The prosecution moved to reconsider the same, and its motion was granted in part by respondent Judge in her
Order of June 18, 1997, which acknowledged that a hearing on the petition for bail must first be conducted before
the court may resolve the same.

On July 14, 1997, complainants filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition
questioning the February 26, 1997 Order of the respondent Judge, but the same was dismissed by the appellate
court in a Resolution dated July 24, 1997, on the ground that the prosecution failed to report the matter to the
Office of the Solicitor General for appropriate action.

16
Meanwhile, at the hearing of the petition for bail on August 12, 1997, the prosecution moved for postponement
thereof in view of the pendency of the petition for certiorari, mandamus and prohibition in the Court of Appeals.
Respondent Judge informed the parties of the dismissal of said petition, but the prosecution reiterated their motion
for postponement, arguing that since they had not yet received a copy of the appellate court's resolution denying
their petition, said dismissal had not yet attained finality and that they were going to file a motion for
reconsideration thereof. Respondent Judge ordered the prosecution to proceed with the presentation of its
witnesses but only complainant Feri was present in court. When the respondent Judge called on Mrs. Feri to testify,
the prosecution refused, reasoning that the latter was not an eyewitness to the crime charged and would be
testifying only with respect to the civil aspect of the case. However, respondent Judge considered the petition for
bail submitted for resolution.

On August 14, 1997, the trial court issued an Order granting bail to Duarte. Respondent Judge concluded that the
evidence against Duarte was not strong and the latter was thus entitled to post bail due to the prosecution's failure
to present its witnesses during the scheduled hearings for the petition for bail despite the issuance of subpoenas
to said witnesses. The Order stated:

xxx

Considering that the prosecution witnesses never appeared when their turn to testify came and for four (4) settings,
they never cropped up, this Court developed its impression that prosecution is left without anybody to oppose this
motion for bail with no proof that the guilt of the accused is strong.

So this Court has to follow the amended Rules on Criminal Procedure, especially Rule 114, Sec. 3, quoted thus:

Sec. 3. Bail, a matter of right; exception. - All persons in custody, shall, before final conviction, be entitled to bail
as a matter of right; except those charged with a capital offense, or an offense which, under the law at the time of
its commission and at the time of the application for bail, is punishable by reclusion perpetua, when evidence of
guilt is strong.

Finding no witnesses to prove the guilt of the accused or to show that the evidence of guilt is strong;

AS PRAYED FOR, said Motion for Bail is hereby granted.1

Complainants thereafter filed the instant administrative case against respondent Judge, claiming that her issuance
of the August 14, 1997 Order reflects gross ignorance of the law, incompetence and grave abuse of discretion on
her part, since said Order granting bail did not contain a summary of evidence presented by the prosecution which
summary is necessary to determine whether a judge has adequate basis for granting bail.2

In her Answer, respondent Judge argued that the complaint is premature since the assailed Order is still under
reconsideration. Moreover, she said that there was no gross incompetence on her part in issuing the same because
the prosecution failed to present its witnesses to oppose the petition for bail, notwithstanding the setting of several
hearing dates for it to do so.3 Respondent Judge also charged complainant Marallag of violating Canons 104 and
10.15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for including the following false statements of fact in the
administrative complaint against her:

(1) that respondent Judge denied his motion for reconsideration of the February 26, 1997 Order (requiring the
prosecution to present evidence and to consider the motion for bail submitted for resolution) in its Order of June
18, 1997, when in fact respondent Judge partly granted the same and acknowledged therein that in petitions for
bail, the prosecution must be accorded the opportunity to present evidence to prove that the evidence of guilt of
the accused is strong, and accordingly set the presentation of evidence for August 12, 1997;

17
(2) that respondent Judge denied complainants due process by considering the application for bail submitted for
resolution without conducting a hearing thereon, when it was the prosecution which failed, despite several
opportunities granted thereto, to present its witnesses on the scheduled hearing dates;

(3) that respondent Judge refused to postpone the hearing on the application for bail on August 12, 1997 despite
the pendency in the Court of Appeals of the petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus (assailing the order
directing the prosecution to present evidence ahead of the defense), even though in truth, complainant had already
received a copy of the appellate court's resolution denying said petition even before August 12, 1997. 6

Respondent Judge further accused complainant Marallag of violating Canons 11 7 and 11.038 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility for exhibiting disrespect towards her during the hearing on August 12, 1997, specifically,
by using "menacing language" against her and raising his voice.9

On November 29, 1999, Office the Court Administrator submitted its memorandum recommending that
respondent Judge be held liable for gross ignorance of the law and be fined in the amount of Five Thousand Pesos
(P5,000.00).

The complaint is meritorious.

The rule is that all persons in custody shall, before conviction, be entitled to bail as a matter of right. However,
when the accused is charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua, and the
evidence of guilt is strong, the grant of bail becomes a matter of discretion.10

Where the admission to bail of an accused is discretionary, it is mandatory for the trial court to conduct a hearing
to afford both the prosecution and the defense a reasonable opportunity to present evidence to establish, in the
case of the prosecution, that evidence of the guilt of the accused is strong, and in the case of the defense, that such
evidence of guilt is not strong.11

The criminal case before respondent Judge involved an accused who was charged with murder, a capital
offense.12Thus, the conduct of a hearing on the accused's application for bail was necessary before the trial court
could grant bail. The records of the case however reveal that although the trial court set several dates for the
hearing on the application for bail, the parties were not able to adduce evidence which would enable the trial court
to determine whether the evidence of the accused's guilt was strong, for purposes of resolving the issue of whether
the latter is entitled to bail. It was the other issues raised by the prosecution, such as the necessity of Duarte's
arraignment before the application for bail may be resolved, and the propriety of conducting trial in reverse order,
which were taken up during the scheduled hearings.13 The prosecution was thus deprived of the opportunity to
prove that the evidence of Duarte's guilt was strong, and the defense was also denied the chance to prove otherwise.
The records further indicate that when the prosecution failed to present any evidence during the hearing on the
application for bail on August 12, 1997, respondent Judge proceeded at once to pronounce that the motion was
deemed submitted for resolution.

The prosecution's failure to submit evidence on the accused's application for bail did not justify respondent Judge's
act of granting bail to the accused without a hearing, because the established rule is that even if the prosecution
refuses to adduce evidence or fails to interpose any objection to the motion for bail, it is still mandatory for the
court to conduct a hearing or ask searching and clarificatory questions from which it may infer the strength of the
State's evidence of guilt of the accused.14 A judge is in fact required to include in his or her order granting or refusing
bail a summary of the evidence presented by the prosecution; otherwise, such order would be uncontrolled and
may be deemed capricious or whimsical.15

Respondent Judge's act of granting bail to the accused without hearing the parties on the matter or asking
searching and clarificatory questions runs counter to the rule requiring the conduct of a hearing on a petition for

18
bail in cases where an accused is charged with a capital offense. Such error merits a reprimand, for the Court has
previously held that-

xxx admission to bail as a matter of discretion presupposes the exercise thereof in accordance with law and guided
by the applicable legal principles. The prosecution must first be accorded an opportunity to present evidence
because by the very nature of deciding applications for bail, it is on the basis of such evidence that judicial
discretion is weighed in determining whether the guilt of the accused is strong. in other words, discretion must be
exercised regularly, legally and within the confines of procedural due process, that is, after evaluation of the
evidence submitted by the prosecution. Any order issued in the absence thereof is not a product of sound judicial
discretion but of whim, caprice and arbitrariness.16

However, the Court notes that the prosecution's failure to present evidence in relation to the petition for bail was
not entirely due to the fault of respondent Judge. The prosecution is also partly to blame for such failure. On the
dates set by the trial court for hearing of the petition for bail, the prosecution raised other issues-first, the alleged
inconsistency between the accused's plea of Not Guilty during the arraignment and his admission during the
preliminary investigation that he killed Ferdinand Feri in self-defense; and second, the necessity of conducting the
trial in the reverse order-which sidetracked the hearing on the petition for bail. Moreover, it was the prosecution
which refused to heed respondent Judge's order that it proceed with the presentation of its evidence relative to the
petition for bail during the hearing of August 12, 1997. Hence, the Court finds that an imposition on respondent
Judge of a fine would not be justified under the circumstances of this case.

The Court also deems it proper to refer to the integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation, recommendation
and report the allegations of respondent Judge that complainant Marallag knowingly made untruthful statements
of fact in his complaint filed with the Court, and exhibited disrespect toward respondent Judge during several
hearings of Criminal Case No. 7316.1âwphi1.nêt

WHEREFORE, respondent Judge Loreto Cloribel-Purugganan of the Regional Trial Court of Tuguegarao, Cagayan,
Branch 3, is hereby REPRIMANDED and WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall
be dealt with more severely. Let a copy of this decision be attached to the personal record of respondent Judge.

The charges made by respondent Judge against complainant Atty. Fred Henry V. Marallag are
hereby REFERRED to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation, report and recommendation.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

19
G.R. No. 135045 December 15, 2000
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
vs.
HON. IRENEO GAKO, JR. (Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, 7th Judicial Region, Branch 5,
Cebu City) and VICENTE GO, respondents.
DECISION
GONZAGA-REYES, J.:

Before us is an appeal by certiorari under Rule 45, Rules of Court of the Resolution1 of public respondent Court of
Appeals (Former Third Special Division) dated August 12, 1998 in CA-G.R. SP No. 47142, entitled "PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES versus HON. IRENEO GAKO, JR. ET. AL.," dismissing the petition of the Office of the Solicitor
General (OSG), herein petitioner.

This instant petition stems from a murder case filed against private respondent Vicente Go (Go) and two co-
accused Sonny Herodias (Herodias) and Leopoldo dela Peña (de la Peña). The victim, Rafael Galan, Sr. (Galan, Sr.),
was shot dead on June 25, 1991.

Judge Priscila S. Agana (Judge Agana) originally presided over the criminal case subject of this petition. The
prosecution sought to inhibit said judge for her alleged collusion with the accused when she repeatedly sustained
the objections of the defense every time the prosecution attempted to establish the conspiracy to kill the victim.
Judge Agana denied the motion to inhibit and dismissed the case with prejudice on the ground that the rights of
the accused to a speedy trial were violated. The prosecution challenged the dismissal in the Court of Appeals,
docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 32954. In its Decision dated April 18, 1994, the Court of Appeals set aside the order of
dismissal, granted the inhibition of the judge, and ordered the re-raffle of the case. The decision of the Court of
Appeals gained finality when this Court dismissed the appeal of private respondent Go and co-accused Herodias
in a Minute Resolution dated June 26, 1995. The criminal case was thus set for retrial. A series of delays beset the
case when the judges to whom the case was raffled inhibited themselves. The case was finally presided over by
public respondent Judge Ireneo Gako, Jr (Judge Gako, Jr.).

With the foregoing events as backdrop, the pertinent facts that led to the filing of this instant petition are as
follows:

On July 3, 1991, de la Peña executed an Extra-judicial Confession implicating therein Herodias and Go in the
conspiracy to kill and murder the victim.

On July 9, 1991, an Information was filed against the three accused namely, de la Peña, Herodias and Go, charging
them with the murder of Galan, Sr. and the case was docketed as Criminal Case No. CBU-22474. Judge Godardo
Jacinto,2 then the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, issued a Warrant of Arrest against the
accused.

On July 22, 1991 an Urgent Motion to Confine private respondent Go in a hospital was filed.

On August 2, 1991, the hearing on said motion was conducted with the prosecution reserving its right to cross-
examine Dr. Gonzales.

On August 6, 1991 an Order was issued to confine private respondent Go in a hospital without the prosecution
having cross-examined Dr. Gonzales on his medical report.

On July 15, 1992, a hearing was conducted where de la Peña was presented as a witness for the prosecution.
Presiding Judge Agana sustained the objections of the defense counsels each time that the prosecution attempted
to establish the conspiracy to kill the victim. The prosecution filed a motion to inhibit Judge Agana, which motion
was denied.

20
On November 20, 1992, the Information against Go and Herodias was dismissed with prejudice on the ground that
their right to a speedy trial had been violated, leaving de la Peña to face trial.

The prosecution then challenged the Order of Dismissal with Prejudice before the Court of Appeals in CA-GR SP
No. 32954. In its Decision dated April 18, 1994, the Court of Appeals annulled and set aside the Order of Dismissal,
ordered the inhibition of Judge Agana, and ordered the raffle of the case to another branch. With the dismissal of
the appeal of private respondent Go and co-accused Herodias by this Court in a Minute Resolution dated June 26,
1995, the criminal case was set anew for trial.

The case was re-raffled to RTC-17 and on October 28, 1996, an Alias Warrant of Arrest was issued against private
respondent Go and co-accused Herodias.

On February 2, 1997, Dr. Matig-a, the physician of Go, filed a Clinical Summary on the illness of Go and on February
13, 1997 Go filed a Petition for Bail.

On March 7, 1997 and March 10, 1997, the prosecution presented de la Peña who was acquitted in 1993. De la Peña
testified on matters which he was not allowed by then presiding Judge Agana to testify on.

On March 21, 1997, a Manifestation on the Confinement of private respondent Vicente Go was filed urging his
arrest because he was out of the intensive care unit.

The motion of the prosecution to transfer the criminal case to a Special Heinous Crimes Court was denied by then
presiding Judge Jesus de la Peña (Judge de la Peña). The case was finally assigned to Branch 5 with public
respondent Judge Gako, Jr. as presiding judge.

On September 16 and 17, 1997, the hearing was resumed, now presided by public respondent Judge Gako, Jr.

On September 26, 1997, an Urgent Motion to Enforce the Alias Warrant of Arrest was filed praying for the arrest
of private respondent Go first before his Clinical Summary Report could be heard.

On November 10, 1997, public respondent Judge Gako, Jr. issued an Order granting the Petition for Bail of private
respondent Go.

On November 11, 1997, the prosecution filed a Vehement Motion to Inhibit public respondent Judge Gako, Jr. due
to his alleged delay in resolving the incidents in connection with the arrest of private respondent Go.

On November 12, 1992, the prosecution moved for the reconsideration of the Order of the court dated November
10, 1997, the order which granted bail to private respondent Go.

On November 14, 1997, a Supplemental Motion to Inhibit public respondent Judge Gako, Jr. was filed by the counsel
of the offended party because Judge Gako, Jr. allegedly pre-judged the evidence of the prosecution without carefully
evaluating why it is short of the requirement to sustain a verdict of life imprisonment.

On November 15, 1997, a Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration was filed from the Order dated November 10,
1997 because the transcripts were allegedly not read.

On December 1, 1997, a Motion for the Issuance of Subpoena Duces Tecum to produce the records of Dr. Matig-a
was filed to determine if the medical findings on private respondent Go were not exaggerated to prevent his arrest.

On December 11, 1997, public respondent Judge Gako, Jr. issued an Order in which he denied the prosecution’s
Manifestation dated March 21, 1997 on the confinement of private respondent Go, and the Urgent Motion to
Enforce the Alias Warrant of Arrest dated September 26, 1997 against private respondent Go.

On January 20, 1998, public respondent Judge Gako, Jr. issued an Order denying the: (1) Motion for Reconsideration
of the Order dated November 10, 1997; (2) Motion to Inhibit; and (3) Supplemental Motion to Inhibit the Presiding
Judge. The prosecution received this order on February 10, 1998.
21
On March 20, 1998, private complainant Guadalupe Galan (Galan), the widow of the victim, filed a petition
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 471460 before public respondent
Court of Appeals. The petition sought to annul or set aside the orders of public respondent Judge Gako, Jr. and
then acting Presiding Judge de la Peña, to wit:

"a) Order dated May 23, 1997, which set aside the earlier order of the court that granted the re-raffle of this case to
a heinous crime court upon the defense’s motion for reconsideration.

b) Order dated November 10, 1997, the dispositive portion of which reads:

"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the court hereby grants bail to accused Vicente Go which is fixed at
₱50,000.00, after taking into consideration, and this fact has not been disputed, that said accused is presently
confined in the hospital and is suffering from the following ailments:

a) Ischemic Heart Disease, S/P Coronary Angiogram, Single Vessel Disease, LAD, Chronic Stable Angina;

b) Essential Hypertension;

c) NIDDM

d) Hypercholesterolemia; and

e) Respiratory Tract Infection

And, as per clerical summary report of Dr. Generoso Matiga, dated February 4, 1997, the confinement of accused
Go in prison will cause his disease to terminate fatally.

xxx

c) Order dated December 11, 1997, the dispositive portion of which reads:

"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Manifestation dated March 3, 1997 and the Motion to Enforce the
Alias Warrant of Arrest are hereby denied for want of merit. Besides the accused was already released on bail and
the issue on the enforcement of the Alias Warrants of Arrest is already moot and academic.

d) Order dated January 20, 1998, the dispositive portion of which reads:

"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Omnibus Motions for Reconsideration on the order of the court
granting Bail to accused Vicente Go with Supplemental pleading, xxx and thirdly, to disqualify the herein Presiding
Judge, are hereby denied for lack of merit. xxx"3

The petition was signed by the counsel of private complainant, Atty. Antonio Guerrero with the conformity of
Vidal Gella, Prosecutor I of the Office of the City Prosecutor of Cebu City.

On March 26, 1998, public respondent Court of Appeals (Special Third Division) issued a Resolution dismissing
the said petition on these grounds: (1) that the petition was not filed by the Solicitor General in behalf of the People
of the Philippines; and (2) that the certification on non-forum shopping was signed by counsel for petitioner Galan,
not by petitioner herself.4

On April 14, 1998, private complainant Galan, through counsel, filed a Motion for Reconsideration of said
Resolution indicating that petitioner OSG was going to adopt her petition. On the same date, petitioner OSG
manifested before public respondent Court of Appeals that it was joining private complainant Galan in her petition
and was adopting her petition as its own.

On June 18, 1998, the Court of Appeals issued a resolution that denied said motion for reconsideration of private
complainant Galan on the ground that the certification on non-forum shopping was not signed by therein

22
petitioner Galan. The Court of Appeals also reasoned that "the fact that the OSG joined petitioner Galan in her
petition did not cure the above deficiency".5 Petitioner OSG received copy of the resolution on June 29, 1998.

On August 3, 1998 petitioner OSG filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court with the Court
of Appeals docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 47142.

On August 12, 1998, said petition of petitioner OSG was dismissed by public respondent Court of Appeals, the
pertinent portions of the resolution read:

"The Court notes that said petition is practically a reproduction of the petition earlier filed by complainant
Guadalupe Galan, which was dismissed on March 26, 1998. The dismissal was reaffirmed by the Court in its
resolution dated June 18, 1998, copy of which was received by the OSG on June 29, 1998.

Instead of seeking, on time, the amendment of the first petition or a review of the resolution dismissing it, the
OSG has come to this Court through the instant petition which not only raises the same matters ventilated in the
same petition but also was filed beyond the 60-day period prescribed in Section 4, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Petition dated July 17, 1998, is hereby DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED."6

In seeking the allowance of this instant petition, petitioner OSG relies upon the following grounds:

I. PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT GIVING DUE COURSE TO THE SPECIAL CIVIL
ACTION OF (sic) CERTIORARI FILED BY PETITIONER DOCKETED AS CA-G.R. SP NO. 47142.

II. PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN HOLDING THAT SAID SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION WAS
FILED BEYOND THE SIXTY-DAY PERIOD PRESCRIBED IN SECTION 4, RULE 65 OF THE 1997 RULES OF CIVIL
PROCEDURE.

III.PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT TOUCHING ON THE MERITS OF THE SAID
PETITION.7

Public respondent Court of Appeals correctly ruled that there was sufficient ground to dismiss the petition filed
by private complainant Galan since it was her counsel who signed the certificate on non-forum shopping and not
private complainant herself. The petition clearly failed to comply with the requirement imposed by Section 1, Rule
658 , in relation to Section 3, Rule 469 of the 1997 Rules of Court. We also agree with the Court of Appeals, that the
mere fact that petitioner OSG manifested that it was adopting the petition of therein petitioner Galan did not cure
the defective petition considering that the certificate on non-forum shopping was still not signed by petitioner
Galan but by her counsel. The manifestation of petitioner OSG also did not contain a certification on non-forum
shopping. By the time that petitioner OSG filed its petition for certiorari in behalf of the People of the Philippines
on August 3, 1998, the dismissal of the petition of private complainant Galan had already been reaffirmed and the
60-day period for petitioner OSG to file its petition had already lapsed.

In dismissing the petition of petitioner OSG, public respondent Court of Appeals pointed out that private
complainant Galan had no legal standing to file the petition before it because "only the Solicitor General can
represent the People before this Court (Court of Appeals) and the Supreme Court".10 On this point, we differ.

In the recent case of Narciso vs. Romana-Cruz11 , we reiterated the doctrine enunciated in People vs. Calo12 that:

"While the rule is, as held by the Court of Appeals, only the Solicitor General may bring or defend actions on behalf
of the Republic of the Philippines, or represent the People or the State in criminal proceeding pending in this Court
and the Court of Appeals (Republic vs. Partisala, 118 SCRA 320 [1982]), the ends of substantial justice would be
better served, and the issues in this action could be determined in a more just, speedy and inexpensive manner, by
23
entertaining the petition at bar. As an offended party in a criminal case, private petitioner has sufficient personality
and a valid grievance against Judge Adao’s order granting bail to the alleged murderers of his (private petitioner’s)
father.

In Paredes vs. Gopengco, 29 SCRA 688 (1969), this Court ruled that the offended parties in criminal cases have
sufficient interest and personality as "person(s) aggrieved" to file the special civil action of prohibition and
certiorari under Sections 1 and 2 of Rule 65 in line with the underlying spirit of the liberal construction of the Rules
of Court in order to promote their object, thus:

‘Furthermore, as offended parties in the pending criminal case before petitioner judge, it cannot be gainsaid that
respondents have sufficient interest and personality as ‘person(s) aggrieved’ by petitioner judge’s ruling on his non-
disqualification to file the special civil action under sections 1 and 2 of Rule 65. Recently in line with the underlying
spirit of a liberal construction of the Rules of Court in order to promote their object, as against the literal
application of Rule 110, section 2, we held, overruling the implication of an earlier case, that a widow possesses the
right as an offended party to file a criminal complaint for the murder of her deceased husband.’ (Id., p. 699)"13

Hence, private complainant Galan had sufficient interest and personality as the aggrieved party14 in a criminal case
to file the special civil action for certiorari before public respondent Court of Appeals. The proper ground therefore
for dismissing her petition is the fact that it was her counsel who signed the certificate on non-forum shopping
and not herself as petitioner.

Petitioner OSG submits that assuming that the petition for certiorari it filed with public respondent Court of
Appeals was filed out of time, nonetheless the following issues raised in said petition warranted resolution:

I. WHETHER OR NOT THE ORDER DATED NOVEMBER 10, 1997 GRANTING BAIL IS PROPER WITHOUT
EXPRESSING THE COURT’S FINDING THAT THE EVIDENCE OF GUILT OF THE ACCUSED IS NOT STRONG.

II. WHETHER OR NOT PRIVATE RESPONDENT VICENTE GO IS CONSIDERED UNDER LEGAL CUSTODY AS
OF NOVEMBER 20, 1992 UNTIL THE PRESENT BECAUSE OF HIS HOSPITAL CONFINEMENT BY ORDER OF
THE COURT DATED AUGUST 6, 1991.

III. WHETHER OR NOT IT IS NECESSARY THAT CRIMINAL CASE NO. CBU-22474 SHOULD BE TRIED BY THE
SPECIAL HEINOUS CRIMES COURT NOTWITHSTANDING THAT THE MURDER WAS COMMITTED IN 1991
BEFORE THE PASSAGE OF THE LAW CREATING THESE SPECIAL COURTS.

This instant petition also seeks to set aside the following orders: (1) Order dated May 23, 1997 which set aside the
earlier order of the trial court that granted the re-raffle of this case to a heinous crime court upon the motion for
reconsideration of the defense; (2) Order dated November 10, 1997 that granted the bail of accused Go in the
amount of P 50,000.00; (3) Order dated December 11, 1997 denying the Motion to Enforce the Alias Warrants of
arrest; and (4) Order dated January 20, 1998 denying the Omnibus Motions for Reconsideration of the order of the
court granting bail to accused Go and ruling against the disqualification of respondent Judge Gako, Jr.

While the petition of private complainant Galan was indeed defective in form and the petition of petitioner OSG
was demonstrably filed beyond the 60-day period, we however resolve to grant this petition in part in view of the
primordial interest of substantial justice.

The just cited issues in the petition before public respondent Court of Appeals presented extenuating
circumstances that should have compelled the latter to pass upon the merits of said petition. In a number of
cases,15 we have set aside the strict application of procedural technicalities in the higher interest of justice. As we
shall show hereunder, the issues raised by petitioner OSG deserve disposition to avoid a miscarriage of justice and
to end the streaks of delay which have saddled the criminal case subject of this petition.

24
First, the assailed Order dated November 10, 1997 granting bail is legally infirm for failing to conform with the
requirement that in cases when the granting of bail is not a matter of right, a hearing for that purpose must first
be conducted. Section 13, Article III of the Constitution provides the instances when bail is a matter of right or
discretionary, to wit:

"All persons, except those charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua when evidence of guilt is strong,
shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, or be released on recognizance as may be provided by
law. The right to bail shall not be impaired even when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended.
Excessive bail shall not be required."

Section 7, Article 114 of the Rules of Court, as amended, reiterates that:

"No person charged with a capital offense, or an offense punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment,
when evidence of guilt is strong, shall be admitted to bail regardless of the stage of the criminal prosecution."

Based on the foregoing, bail is not a matter of right with respect to persons charged with a crime the penalty for
which is reclusion perpetua, life imprisonment, or death, when the evidence of guilt is strong. Private respondent
Go, accused in the criminal case, was charged with murder in 1991, before the passage of RA 7659, the law that re-
imposed the death penalty. Murder then was a crime punishable by reclusion perpetua. Thus, accused Go’s right
to bail is merely discretionary.

We have consistently held that when bail is discretionary, a hearing, whether summary or otherwise in the
discretion of the court, should first be conducted to determine the existence of strong evidence or lack of it, against
the accused to enable the judge to make an intelligent assessment of the evidence presented by the parties.16 A
summary hearing is defined as "such brief and speedy method of receiving and considering the evidence of guilt
as is practicable and consistent with the purpose of hearing which is merely to determine the weight of evidence
for the purposes of bail. On such hearing, the court does not sit to try the merits or to enter into any nice inquiry
as to the weight that ought to be allowed to the evidence for or against the accused, nor will it speculate on the
outcome of the trial or on what further evidence may be therein offered and admitted. The course of inquiry may
be left to the discretion of the court which may confine itself to receiving such evidence as has reference to
substantial matters, avoiding unnecessary examination and cross examination".17

It is inconceivable how Judge Gako, Jr. could have appreciated the strength or weakness of the evidence of guilt of
the accused when he did not even bother to hear the prosecution. The reliance of Judge Gako, Jr. on the
"voluminous records" of the case simply does not suffice. As judge, he was mandated to conduct a hearing on the
petition for bail of the accused since he knew that the crime charged is one that carries a penalty of reclusion
perpetua, and in that hearing, the prosecution is entitled to present its evidence. It is worth stressing that the
prosecution is equally entitled to due process.18

Another compelling reason why a hearing of a petition for bail is necessary is to determine the amount of bail
based on the guidelines set forth in Section 6, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court. 19 Without the required hearing, the
bail granted to accused Go in the amount of P 50,000.00 is undoubtedly arbitrary and without basis.

Second, the order granting bail issued by Judge Gako, Jr. merely made a conclusion without a summary of the
evidence, a substantive and formal defect that voids the grant of bail. Well settled is the rule that after the hearing,
whether the bail is granted or denied, the presiding judge is mandated to prepare a summary of the evidence for
the prosecution. A summary is defined as "a comprehensive and usually brief abstract or digest of a text or
statement".20 Based on the summary of evidence, the judge formulates his own conclusion on whether such
evidence is strong enough to indicate the guilt of the accused. The importance of a summary cannot be
downplayed, it is considered an aspect of procedural due process for both the prosecution and the defense; its
absence will invalidate the grant or denial of bail.21

25
Thus, we laid down the duties of a judge in case an application for bail is filed, viz:

"(1) Notify the prosecutor of the hearing for bail or require him to submit his recommendation;

(2) Conduct a hearing of the application for bail regardless of whether or not the prosecution refuses to present
evidence to show that the guilt of the accused is strong for the purpose of enabling the court to exercise its
discretion;

(3) Decide whether the evidence of guilt of the accused is strong based on the summary of evidence of the prosecution;
(Italics supplied)

(4) If the guilt of the accused is not strong, discharge the accused upon the approval of the bail bond. Otherwise,
petition should be denied."22

In dispensing with the required hearing for bail, Judge Gako, Jr. pointed out in the assailed order that the accused
was confined in the hospital, was suffering from a number of ailments and that the eventual confinement of
accused Go in prison will allegedly "cause his disease to terminate fatally".23 The irregularity in the grant of bail
however is not attenuated since respondent judge’s findings were based on the summary clinical report of Dr.
Matiga dated February 4, 1997 while the order granting bail was issued on November 10, 1997. It could not therefore
be reasonably assumed that the actual state of health of accused Go could still be accurately reflected by the said
medical report when nine months had already passed from the time that said medical report was prepared. It was
therefore clear error for Judge Gako, Jr. to depend solely on the dated medical report in granting bail when the
defense failed to present a more recent one that would convincingly raise strong grounds to apprehend that the
imprisonment of the accused would endanger his life.

Petitioner OSG advances the theory that the accused, private respondent Go, is not entitled to bail because he was
allegedly not under the custody of the law at the time that he applied for bail. Petitioner OSG anchors this theory
on the following arguments: that the August 6, 1991order commanding the confinement of accused Go in the
hospital was void because the prosecution was not able to cross-examine the doctor who prepared the medical
report pertaining to the accused’ illnesses; that when the Information in this case was ordered dismissed with
prejudice on November 20, 1992 by then presiding Judge Agana, accused Go was bodily released from his
confinement; that at that point, the trial court had lost its jurisdiction over the person of the accused; that before
the dismissal with prejudice was voided by the Court of Appeals, accused traveled extensively abroad; that when
the case was re-raffled and finally presided by Judge Gako, Jr. accused continued to be confined in the hospital on
the strength of the allegedly void order of confinement dated August 6, 1991; that Judge Gako, Jr. refused to enforce
the alias warrant of arrest on the ground that the order of confinement was still in effect; and that accused Go
voluntarily admitted himself to the hospital, hence was not yet deprived of his liberty at the time that he applied
for bail.

We must first correct the perception that the trial court was ousted of its jurisdiction over the person of accused
Go after Judge Agana erroneously dismissed the case and upon the refusal of Judge Gako, Jr. to enforce the alias
warrant of arrest during the re-trial of the case. Applicable to this issue is the basic principle that the jurisdiction
of a court, whether in criminal or civil cases, once it attaches cannot be ousted by subsequent happenings or events
although of a character which would have prevented jurisdiction from attaching in the first instance; and it retains
jurisdiction until it finally disposes of the case.24

Prior to the dismissal of the case by Judge Agana, the court had already acquired its jurisdiction over accused Go
when he was duly arraigned on December 11, 1991.25 The fact that this Court affirmed the decision of the Court of
Appeals that voided the order dismissing the criminal case with prejudice is a clear declaration that the jurisdiction
of the trial court over the criminal case and over the person of the accused continued to subsist. With the
nullification of the dismissal of the case, it then became explicit that the court should have tried the case to its
end. The case was ordered remanded and re-raffled because the inhibition of then presiding Judge Agana was
26
granted, in no way was the jurisdiction of the trial court over the case and over the person of the accused ever
placed in doubt.

We now discuss the theory of petitioner OSG that the right of accused Go to bail did not accrue because he was
not under the custody of the law or deprived of his liberty. Petitioner OSG rests this claim on the allegations that
accused Go voluntarily admitted himself to the hospital during the re-trial of the case and that Judge Gako, Jr.
refused to enforce the alias warrant of arrest as evidenced by the questioned Order dated December 11, 1997.

By the very definition of bail in Section 1, Rule 114 of the Rules of Court26 , the person applying for bail must be in
the custody of the law. A person is considered to be in the custody of the law (a) when he is arrested either by
virtue of a warrant of arrest issued pursuant to Section 6, Rule 112, or even without a warrant under Section 5, Rule
113 in relation to Section 7, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Court, or (b) when he has voluntarily submitted himself
to the jurisdiction of the court by surrendering to the proper authorities.27

We do not agree with petitioner OSG that accused Go was not in custody of the law at the time that he applied for
bail. In the same assailed order, Judge Gako, Jr. explained his refusal to enforce the alias warrant of arrest in this
manner:

"Secondly, the movant wanted this court to order the arrest of the accused in view of the Alias Warrant of Arrest
issued by Acting Judge Andres Garalza, Jr. on October 28, 1996. For the information of the movant, there is another
Alias Warrant of Arrest issued by Judge Jose Burgos on May 27, 1996 after he denied the Investigation Report
submitted by the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor which recommended the dismissal of the case against Vicente
Go.

The court believes honestly that these two (2) Alias Warrants of Arrest were improvidently issued because at that
time the Warrant of Arrest issued by then Judge Godardo Jacinto on July 9, 1991 was still valid and subsisting. In
fact it was this latter Warrant of Arrest that handed to this court jurisdiction over the person of the accused Go.

The Alias Warrant of Arrest issued by Judge Burgos has no legal basis not only because the Warrant of Arrest issued
by Judge Jacinto is still valid and subsisting but also for the fact that it was issued as an aftermath of the court’s
denial of the Reinvestigation Report of the Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor which recommended the dismissal
of Go’s case. Under Section 6, Rule 112 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure, as amended, the Regional Trial
Court may issue a warrant of arrest after a preliminary investigation, not after reinvestigation when one was already
was (sic) issued.

Likewise, the Alias Warrant of Arrest issued by Judge Garalza, which came about five months (5) later, had no legal
basis, firstly, because there was already an Alias Warrant of Arrest issued by Judge Burgos on May 27, 1996,
secondly, the Warrant of Arrest issued by Judge Jacinto on July 9, 1991 is still valid and subsisting. But what appears
more funny is the Alias Warrant of Arrest issued by Judge Garalza against accused Go who was at that time lawfully
confined in the hospital pursuant to an Order of the court, dated August 6, 1991. When Judge Garalza issued said
alias (sic) Warrant of Arrest, there was no showing that accused Go had escaped, or refused to obey a lawful Order
of the court.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Manifestation, dated March 21, 1997, and the Motion to Enforce the
Alias Warrant of Arrest are hereby denied for want of merit. Besides, the accused was already released on bail and
the issue on the enforcement of the Alias Warrants of Arrest is already moot and academic."28

As pointed out by Judge Gako, Jr., accused Go had already been arrested on the basis of a warrant of arrest issued
by Judge Jacinto on July 9, 1991 which gave the trial court jurisdiction over the accused. As mentioned earlier,
accused Go was duly arraigned before the case was erroneously dismissed. From the time that accused Go was
arrested, he was already deprived of his liberty and was in the custody of the law. At the re-trial of the case, accused
Go’s confinement in the hospital was by virtue of a court order dated August 6, 1991; the restraint on the freedom

27
of accused Go is evident. There was therefore no more need to enforce the alias warrant of arrest since accused Go
was still under the custody of the law, and there being no evidence that accused Go had escaped or refused to obey
a lawful order of the court. At this point, the setting aside of the questioned order dated December 11, 1997 that
denied the enforcement of the alias warrant of arrest against accused Go has become moot and academic with the
provisional freedom of accused Go after his bail was erroneously granted by Judge Gako, Jr.

We however find merit in the argument of petitioner OSG that the order dated August 6, 1991 authorizing the
confinement of accused Go in the hospital was, in the words of petitioner OSG, a "continuing one and built-in
license for the accused to automatically confine himself as many times as he likes".1âwphi1 It may be true that said
order subsisted for it was never quashed, but at the re-trial of the case, the prosecution through its motion to
enforce the alias warrant of arrest dated September 26, 1997 had already put in issue the health of the accused. Yet,
Judge Gako, Jr. in an Order dated December 11, 1997 justified the confinement of accused Go in the hospital on the
basis of the August 6, 1991 order of confinement.

The prosecution vigorously objected to the confinement of accused Go in the hospital, questioning the alleged ill
health of the accused. Judge Gako, Jr. was called upon to rule on this matter and instead of ascertaining the true
state of health of said accused, Judge Gako, Jr. instead inexplicably relied on a court order authorizing the
confinement of accused Go in the hospital, an order that was issued six years ago. The proper course of action in
this case should have been to recall the order of confinement and to order the detention of accused Go until the
defense could prove through competent evidence that the imprisonment of said accused would imperil his health.
The order to arrest accused Go in such case would be the consequence of the recall of the order of confinement,
not for the purpose of placing him under the custody of the law since to repeat, he already was under the custody
of the law.

As discussed earlier, accused Go is currently already out on bail,29 the granting of which is void for want of a hearing
and summary of evidence. In cases when the grant of bail is void, this Court will not hesitate to set aside the order
granting bail and order that the accused be recommitted to jail pending his application for bail,30 as this Court now
holds in the case at bar.

As to the issue of whether or not public respondent Judge Gako, Jr. should be inhibited on the ground of partiality,
the relevant provision to consider is Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court, it provides:

"SECTION 1. Disqualification of judges.—No judge or judicial officer shall sit in any case in which he, or his wife or
child, is pecuniarily interested as heir, legatee, creditor or otherwise, or in which he is related to either party within
the sixth degree of consanguinity or affinity, or to counsel within the fourth degree, computed according to the
rules of civil law, or in which he has been executor, administrator, guardian, trustee or counsel, or in which he has
presided in any inferior court when his ruling or decision is the subject of review, without the written consent of
all parties in interest, signed by them and entered upon the records.

A judge, may in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself from sitting in a case, for just or valid
reasons other than those mentioned above."

The ground of partiality is not one of the grounds enumerated in the first paragraph of the just quoted provision
that would per se disqualify a judge from sitting in a case. Jurisprudence is clear that partiality is a recognized
ground for the voluntary inhibition of the judge under the second paragraph of Section 1, Rule 137. 31 In this case,
Judge Gako, Jr. has already ruled in the assailed Order dated January 20, 1998 that he will not inhibit himself.

To overturn the ruling of Judge Gako, Jr. and rule for his disqualification, there must be clear and convincing
evidence to prove the charge of partiality. Material to this issue are the following parameters we have set in
disqualifying a judge: mere suspicion that a judge was partial to a party is not enough; that there should be
adequate evidence to prove the charge; that there must be showing that the judge had an interest, personal or
otherwise, in the prosecution of the case at bar; and that to be disqualifying, the bias and prejudice must be shown
28
to have stemmed from an extra-judicial source and result in an opinion on the merits on some basis other than
what the judge learned from his participation in the case.32

Petitioner OSG accuses Judge Gako, Jr. of partiality supposedly shown by the grant of bail without a hearing and
the alleged suppression of the hearing on the Clinical Summary Report of the accused. Again, to successfully
disqualify a judge on the ground of bias or partiality, there must be concrete proof that a judge has a personal
interest in the case and his bias is shown to have stemmed from an extra-judicial source. This precept springs from
the presumption that a judge shall decide on the merits of a case with an unclouded vision of its facts.33 Thus, we
have held that an erroneous ruling on the grant of bail alone does not constitute evidence of bias. 34 Likewise,
respondent judge’s reliance on the order of confinement even if erroneous is not sufficient to point to a conclusion
that he was manifestly partial to the defense. To allow the disqualification of a judge on the mere allegation of
partiality with nothing more would open the floodgates to forum shopping.35

Corollary to the foregoing, we do not find well taken the recommendation of petitioner OSG that the criminal case
be raffled to a Special Heinous Crimes Court. Even petitioner OSG concededly recognizes that Supreme Court
Administrative Order No. 51-96 dated May 3, 1996 creating the Special Heinous Crimes Court provides that: "All
cases covered by this order where trial has already been commenced shall continue to be heard by the branches to
which these were originally assigned". Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 104-96 dated October 21, 1996
which amended Supreme Court Administrative Order No. 51-96, also contains a similar provision, to wit: "Where
trial has already begun, the same shall continue to be heard by the respective branches to which they have been
originally assigned. For purposes hereof, a criminal case is considered begun when the accused or any of them has
already been arraigned; in a civil case, it is when pre-trial has already been conducted and a pre-trial order issued."

We thus see no cogent reason to set aside the order dated May 23, 1997 that denied the transfer of Criminal Case
No. CBU-22474 to a Special Heinous Crimes Court when the trial of the case has already begun and when the crime
for which the accused is being charged with occurred prior to the creation of the Special Heinous Crimes Court.
Furthermore, there are no extraordinary circumstances that would compel this Court to exercise its power under
the Constitution to order a change of venue or place of trial.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the assailed resolution of public respondent Court of Appeals dated
August 12, 1998 is SET ASIDE. The order dated November 10, 1997 of the trial court in Criminal Case No. CBU-
22474 is SET ASIDE for being void in so far as it grants bail to the accused and the accused is ordered recommitted
to jail pending the hearing on the bail application. The order dated May 23, 1997 denying the re-raffle of Criminal
Case No. CBU-22474 to a Special Heinous Crimes Court and the resolution dated January 20, 1997 ruling against
the inhibition of presiding Judge Ireneo Gako, Jr. are hereby AFFIRMED. The court a quo is ordered to proceed
with dispatch in the disposition of this case.

SO ORDERED.

Melo, (Chairman), Vitug, and Panganiban, JJ., concur.

29
G.R. Nos. 121201-02 October 19, 2001
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,
vs.
GIO CONCORCIO @ JUN, EDWIN YUNGOT, ROMMEL MAGPATOC and JOSEL AYALA @ DODONG
LANAY,accused.
EDWIN YUNGOT and ROMMEL MAGPATOC, accused-appellants.
BUENA, J.:

This is an appeal from the joint decision1 dated March 28, 1995, of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch
16,2 finding accused-appellants, Edwin Yungot and Rommel Magpatoc guilty of two counts of murder and imposing
upon them two terms of reclusion perpetua. Accused-appellants were ordered to reimburse the heirs of the victims,
Jernie Sumagaysay and Oscar Celis, of actual expenses, and to pay compensatory and moral damages, and costs.3

The antecedent facts are as follows:

The two informations4 charging accused Gio Concorcio @ Jun, Edwin Yungot, Rommel Magpatoc and Josel Ayala
@ Dodong Lanay, with two counts of murder read:

"Criminal Case No. 15,377-87

"That on or about May 24, 1987, in the City of Davao, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-mentioned accused, armed with a knife, conspiring, confederating together and helping one
another, with intent to kill, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with treachery and evident
premeditation, and during nighttime, suddenly attacked, assaulted and stabbed one Jernie Sumagaysay, with the
use of said bladed instrument, thereby afflicting [upon] the latter stabbed (sic) wounds which directly caused his
immediate death.

"CONTRARY TO LAW."5

"Criminal Case No. 15,378-87.

"That on or about May 24, 1987, in the City of Davao, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-mentioned accused, armed with a knife, conspiring, confederating together and helping one
another, with intent to kill, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously, with treachery and evident
premeditation, and during nighttime, suddenly attacked, assaulted and stabbed one Oscar Celis, with the use of
said bladed instrument, thereby afflicting [upon] the latter stabbed (sic) wounds which directly caused his
immediate death.

"CONTRARY TO LAW."6

Accused-appellants, Edwin Yungot and Rommel Magpatoc were arrested on September, 19917 and February,
1993,8 respectively. The two (2) other accused remained at large.

When arraigned on October 21, 1991, Yungot pleaded not guilty to both charges. Immediately, a joint trial for the
two counts of murder ensued against him. On the other hand, subsequent to his arrest in 1993, Magpatoc also
pleaded not guilty to both charges upon his arraignment.9 An urgent motion for bail was filed by Magpatoc on
March 1, 1993. After the hearing10 on the said motion, the trial court issued an Order dated June 16, 1993, denying
the motion for bail.11 Since the prosecution had already finished presenting its evidence-in-chief against Yungot,
and had rested its case against Yungot at the time of Magpatoc’s arrest, Magpatoc was given a separate trial
whereupon the prosecution presented its evidence-in-chief against Magpatoc. After the prosecution rested its case
against Magpatoc, a joint trial was conducted for the defense, rebuttal and surrebuttal.

30
The prosecution presented the following witnesses against Yungot: Delilah Celis Banderado, Sgt. Virgilio Jaranilla,
Romeo Sumagaysay, SPO4 Leonor Sonza, P/Cpl. Dionisio Erispe, Jonathan Abellana, Jose Lagamon, Jr. and Dr. Jose
Pagsaligan. The following witnesses testified against Magpatoc: Jose Oyson and Jose Lagamon, Jr., 12 SPO4 Leonor
Sonza, P/Cpl. Dionisio Erispe, Sgt. Virgilio Jaranilla, Delilah Celis Banderado and Dr. Jose Pagsaligan. Notably,
except for Jose Oyson, the foregoing witnesses also testified against Yungot. On rebuttal, the prosecution recalled
witnesses Jose Oyson and Sgt. Virgilio Jaranilla, and in addition, presented Ruth Dionson and Democrito Madiclum
as witnesses. On surrebuttal, Yungot’s defense counsel presented Lorna Surbito as a witness.

On the other hand, in his defense, Magpatoc presented Allen Ledesma, Noel Cahiwat, Ysmael Cahiwat and himself
as witnesses; while Yungot, along with Bernardo Bajenteng and Leovigildo Bautista testified in court.

The prosecution adduced the following evidence against Yungot during his trial. Prosecution witness Jose
Lagamon, Jr. testified that he knew the deceased Oscar Celis, who was his former classmate and the other deceased,
Jernie Sumagaysay,13 whom he had met at school. According to Lagamon, Jr., on May 24, 1987, he had a drinking
spree with Oscar Celis, Jernie Sumagaysay and Ben Hur Barol at the Davao Fiesta.14 Around 9 or 10 p.m.,15 after
consuming four (4) or five (5) bottles of beer, Lagamon, Jr. and his companions paid their bill and proceeded home.
While walking along Claveria St., Lagamon, Jr., who was walking alongside Ben Hur Barol some five (5) to six (6)
meters ahead of Oscar Celis and Jernie Sumagaysay, heard a commotion at his back.16 He immediately turned
around and saw accused-appellant Edwin Yungot stab Oscar Celis two (2) or three (3) times at the left side of his
chest, while three (3) or four (4) other persons were holding Celis.17 He also saw "another person" thrust a knife at
the right side of the chest of Jernie Sumagaysay while riding at the latter’s back.18 He tried to assist his "friend" but
the latter’s assailant threatened to stab him as well.19 His companion, Ben Hur Barol did nothing because he was
in shock. In his estimation, about five (5) to six (6) persons were involved in the stabbing incident, three (3) or four
(4) of whom were armed.20 He was then about a meter away from Celis and Sumagaysay. He further testified that
the place was well-lighted. After the incident, the assailants scampered away. Lagamon, Jr. and Barol flagged down
a jeepney and brought Celis to the Davao Doctors Hospital.21 Lagamon, Jr. did not notice where Jernie Sumagaysay
had gone after the latter was stabbed. On cross-examination, he testified that he is a member of the Philippine
National Police (PNP) and that he joined the Philippine Constabulary in 1988; but in 1987, when the stabbing
incident occurred, he was a "bet-taker."22 He insisted that he saw the assailants of Celis and Sumagaysay because
the place where the stabbing incident occurred was well-lighted with fluorescent lamps.23 He could not remember
what kind of knife was used by Yungot in stabbing Celis but recalled that it was about six (6) to seven (7) inches
long.24 He was not summoned by the police authorities for an investigation; neither did he report what he had
witnessed to the police authorities.

Jonathan Abellana, who was serving sentence for murder,25 testified that on May 24, 1987, at around 9 p.m., he was
at a dance in Roxas St., in front of the Holy Child School, and between Roxas and Claveria Sts., with Dodong Lanay,
Allen Ledesma, Jun-jun Oyson, Edwin Yungot and Omi Magpatoc.26 They proceeded to Barrio Fiesta for a drinking
spree upon the invitation of a certain Jun. After the group consumed two (2) cases of beer, Abellana went back to
the dance. Later, the rest of the group27 also returned to the dance.

P/Cpl. Dionisio Erispe, a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP), assigned at the Homicide and Arson
Section of the San Pedro Patrol Station, testified that on May 24, 1987, at around 12 midnight, he received
information regarding a stabbing incident which took place at Claveria St. Together with the members of the
Mobile Patrol, he went to the San Pedro Hospital and Davao Doctors Hospital, where the stabbed victims were
brought, and conducted an investigation. From the said hospitals, they proceeded to the scene of the crimes and
continued with the investigation. Based on his investigation, P/Cpl. Erispe learned that one (1) of the victims was
stabbed near RCBC while the other victim was able to run towards the Martinez Pawnshop. From the hospital
records, he was able to identify the stabbed victims as Oscar Celis and Jernie Sumagaysay.28

31
SPO4 Leonor Sonza, of the Criminal Record Branch, Metrodiscom, PNP, brought the Record of Events of the San
Pedro Patrol Station, dated May 24, 1987,29 showing the entry of the stabbing incident involving Celis and
Sumagaysay.

Dr. Jose Pagsaligan, Medical Specialist II, Regional Health Office No. XI, Department of Health (DOH), Davao City,
performed the autopsy on the victims’ cadavers on May 25, 1987 and issued Autopsy Report Nos. N-039-87 and N-
040-87, showing the following findings:

"Autopsy Report No. N-039-8730

"POSTMORTEM FINDINGS

" 1. STABBED WOUND – 3.5 cm. long, gaping, running medially and slightly upward, edges cleancut, sharp edge
inferiorly, located in the left chest, 10 cm. from the anterior median line, 4 cm. from the left nipple at the level of
the 3rd intercostal space, penetrating the skin and muscles and the heart through and through.

" 2. Contusion-abrasion – 3 cm. x 1.5 cm. in diameter below the right eye along the outer canthus of the right eye,
7 cm. from the anterior median line and 6 cm. from the right ear.

" 3. Contusion-abrasion – 3 cm. x 1.5 cm. in diameter, slightly above the right mandible, 2 cm. from the anterior
median line and 10 cm. from the right ear.

"CAUSE OF DEATH: SHOCK SECONDARY TO SEVERE HEMORRHAGE DUE TO STAB WOUND, CHEST,
LEFT."31

"Autopsy Report No. N-040-8732

"POSTMORTEM FINDINGS

" 1. STABBED WOUND – 1.5 cm. long, gaping, running medially downward, edges cleancut, sharp edge inferiorly
medially, located in the right side of the chest, 4 cm. from the anterior median line, 12 cm. from the right nipple,
penetrating the skin and muscles in the 2nd intercostal space, right, cutting the pulmonary artery.

"CAUSE OF DEATH: SHOCK SECONDARY TO SEVERE HEMORRHAGE DUE TO STAB WOUND, CHEST,
RIGHT."33

In Dr. Pagsaligan’s opinion, each stab wound which caused the death of Celis and Sumagaysay was inflicted using
a single-bladed weapon.34 He further opined that the assailants might have used two (2) weapons.35

Delilah Celis Banderado, sister of Oscar Celis, presented the death certificate of Celis36 and testified on the actual
expenses amounting to P13,990.00, which they incurred due to the death of Celis.37 She further testified that at the
time of his death, her brother was 24 years old and had just graduated from an Electrical Engineering course at the
University of Mindanao.38

Romeo Sumagaysay, father of Jernie Sumagaysay, proffered the death certificate of Jernie, 39 and testified that he
incurred P12,000.00 as funeral and burial expenses arising from the death of Jernie. He also testified that at the
time of Jernie’s death, Jernie was a second year college student at the University of Mindanao.40

As pointed out earlier, after the prosecution rested its case against Yungot, the other accused, Rommel Magpatoc
was arrested and given a separate trial only insofar as the presentation of the prosecution’s evidence-in-chief
against him. A joint trial, however, was subsequently conducted for the defense of both accused-appellants as well
as for rebuttal and surrebuttal.

Subsequent to his arrest and arraignment, accused-appellant Rommel Magpatoc filed a motion for bail dated
March 1, 1993.41 At the hearing42 on the said motion, the prosecution presented as witnesses, Jose Oyson and Jose
Lagamon, Jr. The defense, however, did not present any evidence.43
32
At the said hearing, Lagamon, Jr. claimed that he came to know Sumagaysay at the Davao Fiesta where they started
drinking at around 8 p.m., on May 24, 1987.44 He was with Celis, Sumagaysay and Ben Hur. He reiterated his
testimony at Yungot’s trial that they left Davao Fiesta between 9 and 10 p.m.; and walked towards RCBC, with
himself and Ben Hur about two (2) meters ahead of Celis and Sumagaysay. Upon hearing footsteps behind them,
he turned around and saw Celis being stabbed.45 When asked by the trial judge if he knew the person who stabbed
Celis, Lagamon, Jr. answered that he "…could not recognize the person who stabbed Celis because it happened so
suddenly."46 But when asked by the prosecutor if he could identify the assailants if he were to see them again, he
answered, "I could recognize them by face."47 He further recalled that about four (4) persons attacked his
companions, two (2) or three (3) of whom were armed with knives. He also declared that Sumagaysay was stabbed
in the same manner that Celis was stabbed, i.e., the assailant’s left hand was placed on the victim’s shoulder, while
the former’s right hand stabbed the victim.48 He admitted that he could not clearly recognize Sumagaysay’s
assailant because the incident happened suddenly;49 however, he maintained that Magpatoc was one of those who
killed his companions.50 On cross-examination and upon query by the trial court, Lagamon, Jr. pointed to
Magpatoc as the person who stabbed Celis,51 contrary to his testimony during Yungot’s trial that Yungot was the
one who stabbed Celis. When asked if he could recognize the person who attacked Sumagaysay if in court, he
replied, "[h]e is not here."52

The prosecution also presented Jose Oyson as a witness at the hearing on Magpatoc’s motion for bail.53 Oyson
testified that on May 24, 1987, at about 8:30 p.m., he was drinking at the Davao Fiesta in Claveria St., along with
Jun Concorcio, Jun Laos, Edwin Yungot, Omie Magpatoc,54 Allen Ledesma, Joe Dalman alias Idi, Jun Suaner alias
Siquio and Jose Dodong Cahiwat.55 He recounted that Jun Concorcio pointed at the group of Celis, Sumagaysay
and two (2) others, who were laughing at him.56 Corsiga57 told them to "birahan" (to do some harm to) Celis,
Sumagaysay and the two (2) others.58 At about 10 p.m., when Celis, Sumagaysay and their two (2) companions left
Barrio Fiesta, Oyson’s group followed them.59 Celis, Sumagaysay and their two (2) companions went towards Land
Bank in Claveria St. Celis and Sumagaysay were walking behind their two (2) companions. Edwin Yungot, Josel
Ayala alias Bobong Lanay60 and Omie Magpatoc rushed towards Celis and Sumagaysay. Edwin Yungot stabbed
Oscar Celis.61 Oyson could not ascertain who between Magpatoc and Ayala actually stabbed Jernie
Sumagaysay.62 Yungot, Ayala and Magpatoc were armed with knives.63 One (1) of the stabbed victims fell on the
ground while the other victim was able to run away. Oyson was about seven (7) meters away from the place where
the stabbing incident occurred. The said place was lighted with a fluorescent bulb. After the incident, Oyson and
his companions ran away and proceeded to the dance on Roxas Avenue.64 On cross-examination, Oyson testified
that the group which followed Celis, Sumagaysay and their two (2) companions from Barrio Fiesta, included
himself, accused-appellants, Edwin Yungot and Omie Magpatoc, Joe Dalman, Allen Ledesma, Josel Ayala, Jun Laos,
Edic, Jun Suaner alias Siquio, and Dodong Cahiwat.65 They were all members of the Looban Young Killer (LYK)
gang.66Oyson recalled that three (3) among his companions on the night of May 24, 1987, were armed with knives,
namely, Yungot, Ayala and Magpatoc, because "they were [walking] ahead" of the group. 67 They followed Celis,
Sumagaysay and their two (2) companions in order to "do harm to them."68

As pointed earlier, the prosecution adopted the foregoing testimonies of Jose Oyson and Jose Lagamon, Jr. during
the hearing on Magpatoc’s motion for bail, as part of its evidence-in-chief against Magpatoc. In addition to the
foregoing testimonies, the prosecution presented anew five (5) witnesses, namely, P/Cpl. Dionisio Erispe, SPO4
Leonor Sonza, Sgt. Virgilio Jaranilla, Dr. Jose Pagsaligan and Delilah Celis Banderado, whom it had earlier
presented during Yungot’s trial. These five (5) witnesses’ respective testimonies at Magpatoc’s trial were
substantially identical with their testimonies at Yungot’s trial.

At Magpatoc’s trial, P/Cpl. Dionisio Erispe further testified that while he was at the Davao Doctors Hospital, he
was able to talk with the two (2) companions of the stabbed victim who was brought there. He identified these
two (2) companions as Ben Hur and Joe Lagamon.69 At the San Pedro Hospital, hospital employees gave him two
(2) identification cards of Jernie Sumagaysay for safekeeping, which he subsequently turned over to the desk officer
at the station.70
33
Dr. Jose Pagsaligan, the medical specialist from the Regional Health Office No. XI of the Department of Health
(DOH), Davao City, who performed the autopsy on the two victims’ cadavers on May 25, 1987, and issued Autopsy
Report Nos. N-039-87 and N-040-87, also testified that because of the trajectory of the wound which Sumagaysay
sustained, his assailant was most probably at his back, holding the bladed weapon.71

Delilah Celis Banderado, sister of Oscar Celis, testified anew on the actual expenses amounting to P13,990.00,
which they incurred due to the death of Celis.

With leave of court, accused-appellants, Yungot and Magpatoc filed their respective Demurrers to
Evidence,72which, however, were denied by the trial court in an Order dated November 10, 1993.73

Subsequently, a joint trial was conducted for the presentation of evidence for the defense. Rommel Magpatoc, in
his defense, testified along with Allen Ledesma, Noel Cahiwat and Ysmael Cahiwat; while Edwin Yungot, also in
his defense, presented Bernardo Bajenteng, Leovigildo Bautista and himself as witnesses.

According to accused-appellant Magpatoc, on May 24, 1987, at about 7:30-8:00 p.m., he went with his girlfriend to
the dance held at the back of the Aldevinco building.74 Together with three (3) others, namely, his girlfriend, Noel
Cahiwag and the latter’s friend, Magpatoc left the dance at around 11 p.m. and went home.75 He denied having gone
to Barrio Fiesta on that night.76

Allen Ledesma, a friend of Magpatoc, testified that on May 24, 1987, at 10 p.m., he was "inside the disco house" at
Aldevinco Shopping Center with Magpatoc and Dodong Abellana.77 At around 10:30 p.m., he went to the Davao
Fiesta with Dodong Abellana upon the latter’s invitation, leaving behind Rommel Magpatoc, who stayed in the
"disco house."78 Ledesma and Abellana joined six (6) others at the Davao Fiesta. After consuming three (3) bottles
of beer, Ledesma left Davao Fiesta with a certain Anak,79 bought some cigarettes and went back to the "disco
house." Among the six (6) persons left behind at the Davao Fiesta were Dodong Cahiwat, a certain Caloy and a
certain Lanay.80 Jose Oyson was later identified as one of the six (6) persons,81 whom Ledesma and Abellana joined
at the Davao Fiesta. Likewise, Edwin Yungot was at the Davao Fiesta when they arrived there.82

Noel Cahiwat testified that on the night of May 24, 1987, he was at the dance held behind the Aldevinco Shopping
Center, with Rommel Magpatoc, Allen Ledesma and several others. At about 9:30 p.m., a certain Jun Driver invited
them to drink at the Davao Fiesta. He went to the Davao Fiesta with Dodong Siquio and another person whose
name he could not remember.83 Rommel Magpatoc and the others were left at the "disco house."84 At 10 p.m., Noel
Cahiwat left the Davao Fiesta with a companion and went back to the "dance hall."85 At the "dance hall," Dodong
Lanay told him that Jun Driver stabbed somebody.86 On cross-examination, he admitted that in the evening of
May 24, 1987, Jose Oyson was at the Barrio Fiesta with his group.

Ysmael Cahiwat, barangay captain of 33-B Poblacion, Davao City, testified to prove the good moral character of
accused-appellant Magpatoc. He stated that Magpatoc had been active in community activities and had
demonstrated leadership in the youth activities for the "IKP" chapel. According to Cahiwat, at the time of
Magpatoc’s arrest, the latter was an elected Sangguniang Kabataan member.

On the other hand, in his defense, Edwin Yungot testified that in the evening of May 24, 1987, he operated the
"radio phono" at the benefit dance held at the back of the Aldevinco Center.87 He operated the said "radio phono,"
without anybody’s assistance, until the benefit dance ended at 1 a.m. of the following day. He confirmed that
Magpatoc was at the benefit dance and that Magpatoc left when the dance ended at 1 a.m.88

Bernardo Bajenteng, a neighbor of Yungot and former president of the Pag-asa Youth Movement, corroborated
Yungot’s testimony that on May 24, 1987, he (Yungot) operated the sound system from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. of the
following day.89 However, according to Bajenteng, Yungot was assisted by the son of the owner of the sound
system. Furthermore, Bajenteng insisted, on cross-examination, that Yungot did not leave the benefit dance from

34
8 p.m. until 1 a.m. of the following day, except at one instance, that is, at about 9 p.m., Yungot left, but after five
minutes, he returned back to the dance.90 Bajenteng acted as the emcee at the dance.

Leovigildo Bautista,91 a youth organizer associated with the Department of Social Welfare and Development
(DSWD), issued a certification confirming that Yungot was a bonafide member of the Pag-asa Youth Movement.

On rebuttal, the prosecution presented Jose Oyson, who refuted Yungot’s testimony that he was the operator of
the "phonograph system" used at the benefit dance held on the night of May 24, 1987; and declared that it was
Ruth Dionson, granddaughter of the owner of the "phonograph system," who operated the said system.92 Oyson
further claimed that Yungot and Magpatoc were at the Davao Fiesta in the evening of May 24, 1987. 93 He
maintained that he saw Yungot, Magpatoc and Ayala stab Celis and Sumagaysay. 94 On cross-examination, he
asserted that at 7:30 p.m., on May 24, 1987, he left the dance and went to the Davao Barrio Fiesta with accused-
appellants, Edwin Yungot and Rommel Magpatoc, Jossel Ayala, Jun Laos, Allen Ledesma, Jun Suaner, Edi (Edic in
footnote 65), Jose Dalman and Dodong Cajiwat.95 After three (3) hours, all of them left the Barrio Fiesta, and
returned to the dance after the stabbing incident had occurred.96

Still on rebuttal, Ruth Dionson disputed Yungot’s testimony that he operated the sound system at the benefit
dance held on May 24, 1987, and claimed she operated the said sound system with her aunt, Melanie Guinagao.97

The prosecution also recalled Sgt. Virgilio Jaranilla who testified that a week after May 24, 1987, as investigator, he
went to the house of Yungot but failed to find Yungot.

On April 17, 1995, the trial court promulgated its joint decision dated March 28, 1995, finding both Yungot and
Magpatoc guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder in both Criminal Cases Nos. 15,377-87 and 15,378-87, imposing
upon them two terms of reclusion perpetua, and the payment of actual, compensatory and moral damages, and
costs. The dispositive part of the said decision reads:

"WHEREFORE, in Criminal Case No. 15,377-87, finding the accused Rommel (Umi) Magpatoc and Edwin Yungot
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of MURDER punishable under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code
with no attendant circumstance, both are hereby sentenced to a penalty of reclusion perpetua, and to pay the cost;
to pay the offended party jointly and severally the amount of P12,000.00 as actual damages; each to indemnify the
offended party the amount of P50,000.00 as compensatory damages and P50,000.00 as moral damages.

In Criminal Case no. 15,378-87, finding the two (2) accused Rommel (Umi) Magpatoc and Edwin Yungot guilty
beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of MURDER punishable under Article 248 of the Revised Penal Code with
no attendant circumstance, both are hereby sentenced to a penalty of reclusion perpetua, and to pay the cost; to
pay the offended party jointly and severally the amount of P13,990.00 as actual damages; each to indemnify the
offended party the amount of P50,000.00 as compensatory damages and P50,000.00 as moral damages."98

Hence, this appeal. Accused-appellant Edwin Yungot raises the following assignment of errors:99

"I

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN FINDING ACCUSED-APPELLANT YUNGOT GUILTY OF THE CRIME OF
MURDER DESPITE THE FACT THAT HIS GUILT THEREOF WAS NOT DETERMINED BEYOND REASONABLE
DOUBT.

II

AT ANY RATE, THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN APPRECIATING THE QUALIFYING CIRCUMSTANCE OF
TREACHERY DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE SAME WAS NOT PROVEN DURING THE PROCEEDINGS
THEREIN."

Accused-appellant Rommel Magpatoc, on the other hand, raises the following assignment of errors:

35
"I

THE TRIAL COURT HAD PREJUDGED THE GUILT OF THE ACCUSED BY REASON OF HIS DEFENSE OF ALIBI.

II

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN GIVING CREDENCE TO THE PROSECUTION WITNESSES’ TESTIMONIES
DESPITE MATERIAL AND SUBSTANTIAL INCONSISTENCIES.

III

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT APPRECIATING THE CHARACTER EVIDENCE PRESENTED BY THE
ACCUSED.

IV

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT ACQUITTING THE ACCUSED DESPITE THE STRENGTH OF THE DEFENSE
OF ALIBI."

This Court is not persuaded.

Accused-appellant Edwin Yungot’s arguments, in fine, revolve on the matter of credibility of the prosecution
witnesses. In particular, Yungot cites several instances of inconsistencies in the testimony of prosecution witness
Jose Lagamon, Jr. For instance, on direct examination at Yungot’s trial, Lagamon, Jr. claimed that Yungot stabbed
Celis. However, during the hearing on Magpatoc’s motion for bail at Magpatoc’s trial, Lagamon, Jr. asserted on
both direct and cross-examinations that he could not recognize the person who stabbed Celis because the incident
happened suddenly; but immediately thereafter, he declared that he could recognize Celis’ assailants only by
face,100 and in open court pointed at accused-appellant Rommel Magpatoc as the person who stabbed
Celis.101Yungot argues that the "[s]aid inconsistencies in the testimony of Jose Lagamon, Jr. should not have been
overlooked by the trial court, for it not only puts to doubt the identity of the assailant[s] in the crime[s] but likewise
casts doubt as to the credibility of the said witness, the very foundation of the crime for which ... [he] stand[s] to
lose his liberty."102

The argument is plainly unmeritorious. Well-settled to the point of being elementary is the rule of procedure that
in rendering its judgment, the court must consider only such evidence, duly presented during the trial, for or against
any party to the action, and made the sole basis of the decision therein.103 Thus, Lagamon, Jr.’s testimony in the
separate trial of Magpatoc cannot, at this stage, be used by Yungot to exculpate himself. Under Section 1(f), Rule
115 of the Rules of Court, "xxx xxx. [e]ither party may utilize as part of its evidence the testimony of a witness who
is deceased, out of, or cannot, 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. Thus, the only instance when
Lagamon, Jr.’s testimony at the separate trial of Magpatoc could have been utilized as part of Yungot’s evidence
was if the said witness was deceased, out of or cannot with due diligence be found in the Philippines, unavailable
or otherwise unable to testify, which was not proved at all in this case.

The trial court found Lagamon, Jr.’s testimony to be "clear, straightforward, convincing and rigning (sic) with
sincerity."104 According to the trial court:

"There were two prosecution’s witnesses, namely, Jose Lagamon, Jr. and Jose Oyson who were in the scene of the
crime when it happened and actually witnessed the stabbing incident and saw who were the perpetrator[s].

"Jose Lagamon, Jr. testified twice, during the presentation of the prosecution’s evidence against Edwin Yungot and
in the hearing of the petition for bail of Rommel Magpatoc.

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"Jose Lagamon, Jr. was a classmate of the victim Oscar Celis, both graduated from the same school. On that night
of September (should have been May) 24, 1987, he went to the Davao Barrio Fiesta place at Claveria St. to drink
beer and found inside Oscar Celis and Jermie Sumagaysay and Ben Hur. Ben Hur was his former classmate and
Jermie Sumagaysay was also known to him for they already met in the school.

"After paying for the beers they drank, they proceeded home along the Claveria St., he and Ben Hur were walking
a few meters ahead of Oscar Celis and Jermie Sumagaysay who were trailing closed (sic) behind. He heard a
commotion at his back and when he turned around, he saw Celis and Sumagaysay were being stabbed. Three
persons ganged up at Celis, the two holding Celis while the third one stabbed Celis at his breast while Celis was
facing the assailant sidewise. He pointed to the accused Edwin Yungot as the person who stabbed Oscar Celis. The
place where the stabbing incident occured (sic) was well lighted by [f]luorescent light so that he could fully
recognized (sic) the faces of the assaillants (sic). The person who stabbed Sumagaysay was different from the
person who stabbed Celis and he could also identify the assaillant (sic) of Sum[a]gaysay. He looked around the
[c]ourtroom when asked to identify the assaillant (sic) of Sumagaysay and answered that he is (sic) not in the
[c]ourt room. [L]et it be noted that he testified before the arrest of Rommel Magpatoc. xxx xxx."105

The above findings of the trial court are fully supported by the records. As shown by the transcripts, Lagamon, Jr.
testified as follows:

"PROSECUTOR DAYANGHIRANG III:


"xxx xxx.
"Q: Who were with you walking?
"A: Ben Hur, myself, Sumagaysay and Celis.
"Q: How far were Celis and Sumagaysay?
"A: About 5 to 6 meters.
"xxx xxx.
"Q: What happened while you were walking?
"A: We were walking towards the direction of Land Bank when suddenly there was a commotion at the back.
"Q: What did you do when you heard the commotion?
"INTERPRETER:
Witness demonstrating that Ben Hur’s arm was around him at the back and when a commotion ensued he turned
immediately his back and that he saw somebody thrust a knife.
"PROSECUTOR DAYANGHIRANG III:
"Q: You said you turned your back, what did you see?
"A: When I turned my back I saw the commotion at the back and somebody was stabbing Celis and
Sumagaysay.
"Q: How far were you when you turned your back from Celis and Sumagaysay?
"A: Very near.
"Q: Can you estimate?
"COURT:
The distance between?
"A: Between me and Sumagaysay, about a meter away.
"PROSECUTOR DAYANGHIRANG III:
"xxx xxx.
"Q: How about Celis? Did you see and demonstrate?
Please demonstrate how he was stabbed?
"A: Celis was pushed and he turned around and 3 persons were ganging up on Celis and stabbed him.
"COURT:
"Q: The persons whom you saw stabbed Sumagaysay also stabbed Celis?
"A: No, sir, different persons.
37
"PROSECUTOR DAYANGHIRANG III:
"Q: But that happened at the same time?
"A: Yes, simultaneous.
"Q: Will you be able to identify the assailants?
"A: Yes, sir.
"xxx xxx.
"Q: You said you can identify the assailants. With regard to Celis, can you identify the persons who stabbed him?
"A: Yes, because the place was well lighted.
"Q: Look around this courtroom and see if any of the assailants is in Court?
"INTERPRETER:
The witness is looking around the courtroom and after looking for a while pointed to a person wearing a t-shirt with
a print "Free" and when asked his name answered that he is Edwin Yungot.
"xxx xxx.
"Q: Earlier, you pointed to a person who answered by the name of Edwin Yungot. What is his participation in the
stabbing of Celis.
"A: He was the one who stabbed first.
"Q: What do you mean by "bira"?
"A: He was the one who stabbed first. The other persons were holding on (sic) Celis.
"COURT:
"Q: Who were the other persons? How many were they?
"A: 3 or 4 persons held Celis.
"Q: And so, while those 3 or 4 persons held Celis this Edwin Yungot stabbed Celis from the back?
"A: From the back.
"PROSECUTOR DAYANGHIRANG III:
"Q: Please demonstrate how Edwin Yungot stabbed Celis?
"INTERPRETER:
The witness is demonstrating that Celis was stabbed at the left side of the body.
"COURT:
"Q: You mean the body of Celis was facing sidewise Edwin Yungot when the latter stabbed Celis at his breast?
"A: Yes, sir.
"Q: So the one who stabbed Celis was Yungot?
"A: Yes, sir.
"Q: How many times did you see Celis hit by Yungot?
"A: About 2 or 3 times.
"Q: While Yungot was stabbing Celis, the 3 or 4 companions of Yungot were holding Celis?
"INTERPRETER:

The witness demonstrating that 2 or 3 persons held the backside of the deceased Celis and he was twisted so that
his left side was facing the assailant Edwin Yungot.

"xxx xxx." (emphasis supplied)106

Even assuming arguendo that Lagamon, Jr.’s testimony at Magpatoc’s trial could be considered as part of Yungot’s
evidence, we have previously ruled that "[c]ourts are not bound to accept or reject the whole of the testimony of a
witness. They may believe one part and disbelieve the other part of the testimony. If there are conflicts in the
testimony which cannot be so reconciled as to admit every witness swearing the truth, the Court adopts that
testimony which it believes to be true, taking into consideration the general character of the witness, his manner
and demeanor on the stand while testifying, the consistency or inconsistency of his statements, their probability
or improbability, his ability and willingness to speak the truth, his intelligence and means of knowledge, his motive

38
to speak the truth or swear a falsehood."107 As it were, the trial court aptly found the testimony of Lagamon, Jr. to
be clear, straightforward, convincing and ringing with sincerity.

Nonetheless, even if we were to consider Lagamon, Jr.’s entire testimony as unreliable, unworthy of belief and
undeserving of credence because of some inconsistency in his testimony, particularly regarding the identity of
Celis’ assailant, Yungot’s active participation in the crimes charged was positively asserted by another eyewitness
for the prosecution, Jose Oyson. In other words, Yungot’s conviction was based not only on Lagamon, Jr.’s
testimony but also on the testimony of another eyewitness, Jose Oyson, who categorically testified that:

"PROSECUTOR DAYANGHIRANG III:


"xxx xxx.
"Q: Accused Yungot also declared before this court that on said date May 24, 1987 during the benefit dance
held at the back of Aldevinco Shopping Center, he did not leave the dancing place during the duration of the dance
party. What can you say to that declaration?
"A: That is not true.
"Q: If you know, where did Yungot go on the said date?
"A: They were at the Davao Fiesta.
"Q: What time did he go to the Davao Fiesta? On May 24, 1987?
"A: About 8:30.
"Q: 8:30 in the evening?
"A: Yes, sir.
"Q: When you said "we," who were your companions who went to the Davao Fiesta on May 24, 1987 at 8:30 in
the evening?
"A: Alias Jun Driver, Edwin Yungot, Rommel Magpatoc, Jun Laos, Joe Dalman, Jun Suaner, Edi, Allen Ledesma,
Dodong Cahiwat and me.
"COURT:
"Q: What time was it when you and the group you mentioned left the dancing place in order to go to the
Barrio Fiesta?
"A: About 7:30.
"COURT:
Proceed.
"PROSECUTOR DAYANGHIRANG III:
"Q: 7:30 in the evening?
"A: Yes, sir.
"Q: So the declaration of the other accused Magpatoc that they never left the dancing (sic) party during the
whole duation (sic) of May 24, 1987 in the evening is also not true?
"A: Not true.
"Q: The 2 accused Yungot and Magpatoc declared before the Court that they have no participation in the
stabbing incident on the evening of May 24, 1987 which resulted to (sic) the death of Oscar Celis and Gernie
Sumagaysay which incident is now subject of these 2 criminal cases. What can you say to that?
"ATTY. MONTEJO:
It is not covered by the offer. The offer is only to rebut the testimony that they never left the dancing place.
"PROSECUTOR DAYANGHIRANG III:
It is in the record, Your Honor.
"STENOGRAPHER:
(Reading back the offer of testimony by the Public Prosecutor and the last question propounded by the Public
Prosecutor.)
"COURT:
It is there.

39
"A: That is not true.
"PROSECUTOR DAYANGHIRANG III:
"Q: You said the declaration of the 2 accused is not true. What is the participation of Edwin Yungot to that
stabbing incident which resulted to (sic) the death of Oscar Celis and Jernie Sumagaysay?
"A: They were really the ones who stabbed. The three (3) of them.
"Q: Who were the three (3) who stabbed?
"A: Edwin Yungot, Rommel Magpatoc and Josel Ayala.
"Q: Did you see these three (3) stab the victims?
"A: Yes, sir.
"Q: How far were you from the stabbing of the 2 victims?
"A: About seven (7) meters.
"Q: The scene of the stabbing incident, was it well-lighted?
"A: Yes, sir.
"xxx xxx." (emphasis supplied)108
Furthermore, the following circumstances, duly established by the evidence for the prosecution, which Yungot’s
defense of alibi could not surmount, proved that Yungot was one of those who participated in the killing of Celis
and Sumagaysay and is, therefore, guilty beyond reasonable doubt:

"1. Yungot was positively identified by his companions on the night of May 24, 1987, Jonathan Abellana and Jose
Oyson, as one of those who were drinking with them at the Davao Barrio Fiesta; and by Jose Lagamon, Jr. who was
also drinking at the Davao Barrio Fiesta with Celis and Sumagaysay.

2. Yungot and his companions left the Davao Barrio Fiesta after three hours.

3. Celis, Sumagaysay, Lagamon, Jr. and Barol left the Davao Barrio Fiesta and walked towards Claveria St.

4. Yungot was one of the five or six persons involved in the stabbing incident, three or four of whom were armed.

5. Celis and Sumagaysay each died of a stab wound inflicted using a single-bladed weapon.

6. Immediately after the commission of the crimes, Yungot and Magpatoc resorted to flight.

7. Prosecution witnesses Jose Oyson, Jose Lagamon, Jr. and Jonathan Abellana were not shown to have any cause
to testify falsely against Yungot."

The inconsistencies between the testimony of Lagamon, Jr. and Jose Oyson’s testimony, particularly, the manner
how Celis and Sumagaysay were attacked,109 and the number of persons involved in the stabbing incident,110 as
further pointed out by Yungot, are more apparent than real, if not altogether immaterial and insignificant.
Concededly, some inconsistencies may be noted; they are, however, not so material and substantial as to affect the
credibility of the said witnesses; thus there is no compelling reason to disturb the findings of the trial court in this
regard.

We now tackle the issue of whether treachery and conspiracy attended the commission of the crimes. Yungot’s
allegation that the trial court erred in appreciating the presence of treachery and conspiracy, is not supported by
the records.

In People vs. Rivera,111 we held that:

"There is treachery when the offender commits any of the crimes against the person, employing means, methods,
or forms in the execution thereof which tend directly and specially to insure its execution, without risk to himself
arising from the defense which the offended party might make. Thus, for treachery or alevosiato be appreciated as
a qualifying circumstance, the prosecution must establish the concurrence of two (2) conditions: (a) that at the

40
time of the attack, the victim was not in a position to defend himself; and (b) that the offender consciously adopted
the particular means, method or form of attack employed by him…."112

Indeed, the foregoing requisites were evidently present in the case at bar. Accused-appellant Yungot’s attack,
coming from behind, on the unarmed Oscar Celis, was sudden, unprovoked, unexpected and deliberate. To ensure
or afford impunity, three (3) other persons were holding Celis while he was being stabbed by Yungot. Clearly,
under these circumstances, Celis was in no position and without any means to defend himself. The attack was
done in a manner which directly and specially insured the execution of the act without any risk to Yungot arising
from the defense which Celis might have made. Thus, as correctly held by the trial court, treachery was present in
this case, qualifying the crime to murder.

We are also in agreement with the trial court’s finding that there was conspiracy between the accused-appellants,
as alleged in the informations. As enunciated by the trial court:

"xxx xxx.

Conspiracy of both the two accused and the others who participated in the stabbing was clearly proven by the
evidence independent of the crime itself. It was shown that there was a unity of purpose of the two (2) accused
and the others and the intention to stab the two victims simultaneously. When the two accused left the Davao
Barrio Fiesta with the others immediately after the two victims and their two companions left said place, there was
already the intention and plan to inflict injury upon the two victims. xxx xxx."113

Conspiracy, as alleged in the informations, was convincingly established. There is conspiracy when two or more
persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it.114 Conspiracy may
be deduced from the mode and manner by which the offense was perpetrated, or inferred from acts of the accused
themselves when such point to a joint purpose and design, concerted action and community of interest. 115 In this
case, the prosecution established that accused-appellants, Yungot and Magpatoc, and their companions left the
Davao Barrio Fiesta right after Celis, Sumagaysay and their companions left the said place, with the intention "to
do harm" to Celis, Sumagaysay and their two (2) companions. Coming from behind, Yungot stabbed Celis while
three (3) others held and restrained him; and simultaneously or almost at the same time, Magpatoc rode on
Sumagaysay’s back and stabbed him. Yungot and Magpatoc each inflicted one fatal stab wound which caused the
death of the victims. These concerted actions of accused-appellants reveal their common intent to harm Celis and
Sumagaysay, if not cause them death.

In sum, we find no reason to disturb the findings of the trial court that the prosecution witnesses are more credible,
that their testimonies were "clear, straightforward, convincing and rigning (sic) with sincerity" and that there was,
as well, no reason for them to testify falsely against the accused-appellants, specially since the trial court had the
opportunity to observe the witnesses’ demeanor and deportment on the witness stand, hence, its assessment of
the credibility of the witnesses, is entitled to great respect. It may not be amiss to reiterate that on the issue of
credibility of witnesses, appellate courts will not disturb the findings arrived at by the trial court, which was
certainly in a better position to rate the credibility of the witnesses after hearing them and observing their
deportment and manner of testifying during the trial. This rule stands absent any showing that certain facts and
circumstances of weight and value have been overlooked, misinterpreted or misapplied by the trial court which, if
considered, would affect the result or outcome of the case.116 There is no such showing in this case, notwithstanding
the valiant efforts of counsels for accused-appellants to create such an impression.

In like manner, accused-appellant Rommel Magpatoc, in his defense, submits that the credibility of prosecution
witnesses, Jose Lagamon, Jr. and Jose Oyson, are suspect, pointing out several "material and substantial"
inconsistencies in their respective testimonies which were "simply overlooked" and "not considered" by the trial
court.

41
As to Lagamon, Jr.’s testimony, Magpatoc cites the following inconsistencies: first, the distance between Lagamon,
Jr. and the two victims at the time of the stabbing incident; second, the number of persons who attacked the
victims; third, the number of assailants who were armed with knives; fourth, the act of the person who pointed a
knife at Lagamon, Jr.; fifth, the identity of the person who stabbed Oscar Celis; and sixth, Lagamon, Jr.’s reaction
when he was threatened by one of the assailants.117 As to Jose Oyson’s testimony, Magpatoc points out the following
inconsistencies: first, the identity of the assailants; second, the number of assailants; third, the "unusual incident
or conversation" at the Barrio Fiesta; and fourth, the activities/purpose of the Looban Young Killers
group.118 Magpatoc likewise cites the inconsistency between Oyson’s testimony and that of Dr. Pagsaligan as to the
relative positions of the victims and their assailants at the time of the stabbing incident.119

After a careful and thorough review of the evidence on record, particularly the testimonies of the witnesses, the
Court notes that these alleged inconsistencies refer, at best, only to trivial, minor, and insignificant details and
slight variations. In People vs. Alolod,120 we held that:

"xxx xxx. Recollection of different witnesses with respect to time, place and other circumstances of a criminal event
would naturally differ in various details. Not all persons who witness an incident are impressed in the same manner
and it is but natural that in relating their impressions, they disagree on the minor details and that there be
contradictions in their testimonies. Witnesses cannot be expected to recollect with exactitude every minute detail
of an event. This is especially true when the witnesses testify as to facts which transpired in rapid succession,
attended by flurry and excitement. The testimony of each witness should not be expected to be identical to and
coinciding with each other. It is enough that the principal points covered by their testimonies are established
although they do not dovetail in all details which would even prove well-rehearsed and studied declarations. If
witnesses should agree as to every detail of a transaction which occupied a considerable space of time, and should
undertake to tell all that occurred in precisely the same order, each giving the same incident as the other in
precisely the same words, that fact would be of itself a suspicious circumstance."121

The alleged inconsistencies bear no materiality to the commission of the crimes imputed against accused-
appellants. As pointed out by the Solicitor General, "xxx xxx. [t]hese [seeming] discrepancies may be attributed to
the fact that the witnesses were called to relate the incident almost five years after it transpired. It is not unusual
for a witness to a startling occurrence, not to vividly and exactly remember minute details of the occurrence, such
as [the] number and location of the wounds inflicted on the victim[s] especially, when he was called to testify only
after a lapse of almost five years. xxx xxx."122 Trivial incongruities within a testimony and between testimonies
likewise do not impair the credibility of the witness/witnesses. Minor lapses are to be expected when a person is
recounting details of a traumatic experience too painful to recall. In fact, the discordance in the testimonies of
witnesses on minor matters heightens their credibility and shows that their testimonies were not coached or
rehearsed, especially where there is consistency in relating the principal occurrence and positive identification of
the assailant.123

Moreover, accused-appellant Magpatoc bewails the supposed failure of prosecution witness Jose Lagamon, Jr. to
promptly report the crimes to the authorities; and assails the delay of prosecution witness Jose Oyson in testifying
before the trial court.

The contention is untenable.

This Court has already taken judicial notice of the actuality that witnesses in this country are usually reluctant to
volunteer information about a criminal case or are unwilling to be involved in or dragged into criminal
investigations.124 The initial reluctance to volunteer information about a criminal case and/or the unwillingness to
be involved in a criminal investigation due to fear of reprisal are common and have been judicially declared to have
no effect on credibility.125

Finally, Magpatoc alleges that the trial court erred in disregarding evidence of his good moral character. The
allegation has no merit. In People vs. Cerelegia,126 we ruled that "xxx xxx. [i]t is true that the good moral character
42
of an accused having reference to the moral trait involved in the offense charged may be proven by him. But an
accused is not entitled to an acquittal simply because of his previous good moral character and exemplary conduct
if the Court believes he is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. The affirmance or reversal of his
conviction must be resolved on the basic issue of whether the prosecution had discharged its duty of proving his
guilt beyond peradventure of doubt."127 After reviewing the evidence in this case, we are convinced that the
prosecution has satisfactorily overcome the presumption of innocence accorded to every accused and that accused-
appellants, Yungot and Magpatoc are guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged; thus, evidence of good
moral character will not prevail.

Regarding accused-appellants’ mutual defense of alibi, we rule that the trial court correctly rejected their alibi
since it was not physically impossible for both accused-appellants to be at the scene of the crime at the time of its
commission. We have ruled, time and again, that alibi is the weakest of all defenses and cannot stand against
strong and positive identification, as in this case.128

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appealed judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City, Branch 16,
in Criminal Case Nos. 15,377-87 and 15,378-87, finding accused-appellants, Edwin Yungot and Rommel Magpatoc
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder on two counts, and sentencing each of them to reclusion perpetua for
each count, and ordering them to pay the offended partly, jointly and severally, the amount of P50,000.00 as
indemnity, and P50,000.00 as moral damages in each case and the amount of P12,000.00 and P13,990.00 as actual
damages in Criminal Cases Nos. 15,377-87 and 15,378-87, respectively, is hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, (Chairman), Mendoza, Quisumbing, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

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