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2010 CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CASES

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SORIANO, vs. PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES (G.R. No. 162336 - February 1, 2010) 2
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. VILLAMIN (G.R. No. 175590 - February 9, 2010) 11
SADULAGA vs SANDIGANBAYAN (GR no. 184537 - April 23, 2010) 20
KALALO vs OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN (G.R. No. 158189 - April 23, 2010) 27
BONIFACIO vs. RTC OF MAKATI (G.R. No. 184800 - May 5, 2010) 33
BORLONGAN, JR vs. PEÑA (G.R. No. 14359 - May 5, 2010) 39
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs NOQUE G.R. No. 175319 - January 15, 2010) 51

LEE vs KBC BANK N.V. (G.R. No. 164673 - January 15, 2010) 58

CABRAL vs UY (G.R. No. 174584 - January 20, 2010) 69

TAMARGO vs AWINGAN (G.R. No. 177727 - January 19, 2010) 72

CACAO vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES (G.R. No. 180870 - January 22, 2010) 79

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. MORALES (G.R. No. 172873 - March 19, 2010) 88

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. HABANA (G.R. No. 188900 - March 5, 2010) 99

ROMUALDEZ vs SANDIGANBAYAN (G.R. No. 161602 - July 13, 2010) 103

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HILARIO P. SORIANO, million loan had never been authorized by RBSM's Board of
vs. Directors and no report thereof had ever been submitted to the
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, BANGKO SENTRAL NG PILIPINAS Department of Rural Banks, Supervision and Examination Sector of
(BSP), PHILIPPINE DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION (PDIC), the BSP. The letter of the OSI, which was not subscribed under
PUBLIC PROSECUTOR ANTONIO C.BUAN, and STATE PROSECUTOR oath, ended with a request that a preliminary investigation be
ALBERTO R. FONACIER, conducted and the corresponding criminal charges be filed against
petitioner at his last known address.
G.R. No. 162336
February 1, 2010 Acting on the letter-request and its annexes, State Prosecutor
Albert R. Fonacier proceeded with the preliminary investigation. He
A bank officer violates the DOSRI2 law when he acquires bank funds issued a subpoena with the witnesses’ affidavits and supporting
for his personal benefit, even if such acquisition was facilitated by a documents attached, and required petitioner to file his counter-
fraudulent loan application. Directors, officers, stockholders, and affidavit. In due course, the investigating officer issued a Resolution
their related interests cannot be allowed to interpose the finding probable cause and correspondingly filed two separate
fraudulent nature of the loan as a defense to escape culpability for informations against petitioner before the Regional Trial Court
their circumvention of Section 83 of Republic Act (RA) No. 337.3 (RTC) of Malolos, Bulacan.13

Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari4 under Rule 45 of the The first Information,14 dated November 14, 2000 and docketed as
Rules of Court, assailing the September 26, 2003 Decision5 and the Criminal Case No. 237-M-2001, was for estafa through falsification
February 5, 2004 Resolution6 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA- of commercial documents, under Article 315, paragraph 1(b), of the
G.R. SP No. 67657. The challenged Decision disposed as follows: Revised Penal Code (RPC), in relation to Article 172 of the RPC and
PD 1689. It basically alleged that petitioner and his co-accused, in
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition for abuse of the confidence reposed in them as RBSM officers, caused
certiorari is hereby DENIED.7 the falsification of a number of loan documents, making it appear
that one Enrico Carlos filled up the same, and thereby succeeded in
Factual Antecedents securing a loan and converting the loan proceeds for their personal
gain and benefit.15 The information reads:
Sometime in 2000, the Office of Special Investigation (OSI) of the
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), through its officers,8 transmitted That in or about the month of April, 1997, and thereafter, in San
a letter9 dated March 27, 2000 to Jovencito Zuño, Chief State Miguel, Bulacan, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
Prosecutor of the Department of Justice (DOJ). The letter attached the said accused HILARIO P. SORIANO and ROSALINDA ILAGAN, as
as annexes five affidavits,10 which would allegedly serve as bases principals by direct participation, with unfaithfulness or abuse of
for filing criminal charges for Estafa thru Falsification of Commercial confidence and taking advantage of their position as President of
Documents, in relation to Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1689,11 and the Rural Bank of San Miguel (Bulacan), Inc. and Branch Manager of
for Violation of Section 83 of RA 337, as amended by PD 1795,12 the Rural Bank of San Miguel – San Miguel Branch [sic], a duly
against, inter alia, petitioner herein Hilario P. Soriano. These five organized banking institution under Philippine Laws, conspiring,
affidavits, along with other documents, stated that spouses Enrico confederating and mutually helping one another, did then and
and Amalia Carlos appeared to have an outstanding loan of P8 there, willfully and feloniously falsify loan documents consisting of
million with the Rural Bank of San Miguel (Bulacan), Inc. (RBSM), undated loan application/information sheet, credit proposal dated
but had never applied for nor received such loan; that it was April 14, 1997, credit proposal dated April 22, 1997, credit
petitioner, who was then president of RBSM, who had ordered, investigation report dated April 15, 1997, promissory note dated
facilitated, and received the proceeds of the loan; and that the P8 April 23, 1997, disclosure statement on loan/credit transaction
dated April 23, 1997, and other related documents, by making it
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appear that one Enrico Carlos filled up the application/information having no knowledge of the said loan, and one in possession of the
sheet and filed the aforementioned loan documents when in truth said amount of eight million pesos (PhP8,000,000.00), accused
and in fact Enrico Carlos did not participate in the execution of said converted the same to his own personal use and benefit, in flagrant
loan documents and that by virtue of said falsification and with violation of the said law.
deceit and intent to cause damage, the accused succeeded in
securing a loan in the amount of eight million pesos CONTRARY TO LAW.19
(PhP8,000,000.00) from the Rural Bank of San Miguel – San
Ildefonso branch in the name of Enrico Carlos which amount of Both cases were raffled to Branch 79 of the RTC of Malolos,
PhP8 million representing the loan proceeds the accused thereafter Bulacan.20
converted the same amount to their own personal gain and benefit,
to the damage and prejudice of the Rural Bank of San Miguel – San
Ildefonso branch, its creditors, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and On June 8, 2001, petitioner moved to quash21 these informations on
the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation. two grounds: that the court had no jurisdiction over the offense
charged, and that the facts charged do not constitute an offense.
CONTRARY TO LAW.16
On the first ground, petitioner argued that the letter transmitted by
the BSP to the DOJ constituted the complaint and hence was
The other Information17 dated November 10, 2000 and docketed as defective for failure to comply with the mandatory requirements of
Criminal Case No. 238-M-2001, was for violation of Section 83 of RA Section 3(a), Rule 112 of the Rules of Court, such as the statement
337, as amended by PD 1795. The said provision refers to the of address of petitioner and oath and subscription.22 Moreover,
prohibition against the so-called DOSRI loans. The information petitioner argued that the officers of OSI, who were the signatories
alleged that, in his capacity as President of RBSM, petitioner to the "letter-complaint," were not authorized by the BSP Governor,
indirectly secured an P8 million loan with RBSM, for his personal much less by the Monetary Board, to file the complaint. According
use and benefit, without the written consent and approval of the to petitioner, this alleged fatal oversight violated Section 18, pars.
bank's Board of Directors, without entering the said transaction in (c) and (d) of the New Central Bank Act (RA 7653).
the bank's records, and without transmitting a copy of the
transaction to the supervising department of the bank. His ruse
was facilitated by placing the loan in the name of an unsuspecting On the second ground, petitioner contended that the commission of
RBSM depositor, one Enrico Carlos.18 The information reads: estafa under paragraph 1(b) of Article 315 of the RPC is inherently
incompatible with the violation of DOSRI law (as set out in Section
8323 of RA 337, as amended by PD 1795),24 hence a person cannot
That in or about the month of April, 1997, and thereafter, and be charged for both offenses. He argued that a violation of DOSRI
within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the said accused, in law requires the offender to obtain a loan from his bank, without
his capacity as President of the Rural Bank of San Miguel (Bulacan), complying with procedural, reportorial, or ceiling requirements. On
Inc., did then and there, willfully and feloniously indirectly borrow the other hand, estafa under par. 1(b), Article 315 of the RPC
or secure a loan with the Rural Bank of San Miguel – San Ildefonso requires the offender to misappropriate or convert something that
branch, a domestic rural banking institution created, organized and he holds in trust, or on commission, or for administration, or under
existing under Philippine laws, amounting to eight million pesos any other obligation involving the duty to return the same.25
(PhP8,000,000.00), knowing fully well that the same has been done
by him without the written consent and approval of the majority of
the board of directors of the said bank, and which consent and Essentially, the petitioner theorized that the characterization of
approval the said accused deliberately failed to obtain and enter possession is different in the two offenses. If petitioner acquired the
the same upon the records of said banking institution and to loan as DOSRI, he owned the loaned money and therefore, cannot
transmit a copy thereof to the supervising department of the said misappropriate or convert it as contemplated in the offense of
bank, as required by the General Banking Act, by using the name of estafa. Conversely, if petitioner committed estafa, then he merely
one depositor Enrico Carlos of San Miguel, Bulacan, the latter

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held the money in trust for someone else and therefore, did not before a notary public and subsequently certified by State
acquire a loan in violation of DOSRI rules. Prosecutor Fonacier, who personally examined the affiants and was
convinced that the affiants fully understood their sworn
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court statements.31

In an Order26 dated August 8, 2001, the trial court denied Anent the second ground, the CA found no merit in petitioner's
petitioner's Motion to Quash for lack of merit. The lower court argument that the violation of the DOSRI law and the commission
agreed with the prosecution that the assailed OSI letter was not the of estafa thru falsification of commercial documents are inherently
complaint-affidavit itself; thus, it need not comply with the inconsistent with each other. It explained that the test in
requirements under the Rules of Court. The trial court held that the considering a motion to quash on the ground that the facts charged
affidavits, which were attached to the OSI letter, comprised the do not constitute an offense, is whether the facts alleged, when
complaint-affidavit in the case. Since these affidavits were duly hypothetically admitted, constitute the elements of the offense
subscribed and sworn to before a notary public, there was charged. The appellate court held that this test was sufficiently met
adequate compliance with the Rules. The trial court further held because the allegations in the assailed informations, when
that the two offenses were separate and distinct violations, hence hypothetically admitted, clearly constitute the elements of Estafa
the prosecution of one did not pose a bar to the other.27 thru Falsification of Commercial Documents and Violation of DOSRI
law.32
Petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration was likewise denied in an
Order dated September 5, 2001.28 Petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration33 was likewise denied for
lack of merit.
Aggrieved, petitioner filed a Petition for Certiorari29 with the CA,
reiterating his arguments before the trial court. Hence, this petition.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals Issues

The CA denied the petition on both issues presented by petitioner. Restated, petitioner raises the following issues34 for our
consideration:
On the first issue, the CA determined that the BSP letter, which
petitioner characterized to be a fatally infirm complaint, was not I Whether the complaint complied with the mandatory
actually a complaint, but a transmittal or cover letter only. This requirements provided under Section 3(a), Rule 112 of the Rules of
transmittal letter merely contained a summary of the affidavits Court and Section 18, paragraphs (c) and (d) of RA 7653.
which were attached to it. It did not contain any averment of
personal knowledge of the events and transactions that constitute II Whether a loan transaction within the ambit of the DOSRI law
the elements of the offenses charged. Being a mere transmittal (violation of Section 83 of RA 337, as amended) could also be the
letter, it need not comply with the requirements of Section 3(a) of subject of Estafa under Article 315 (1) (b) of the Revised Penal
Rule 112 of the Rules of Court.30 Code.

The CA further determined that the five affidavits attached to the III Is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 the proper remedy
transmittal letter should be considered as the complaint-affidavits against an Order denying a Motion to Quash?
that charged petitioner with violation of Section 83 of RA 337 and
for Estafa thru Falsification of Commercial Documents. These IV Whether petitioner is entitled to a writ of injunction.
complaint-affidavits complied with the mandatory requirements set
out in the Rules of Court – they were subscribed and sworn to Our Ruling
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The petition lacks merit. investigation and the filing of corresponding criminal charges
against petitioner Soriano. Thus, the principle of stare decisis
First Issue: dictates that the ruling in Soriano v. Hon. Casanova be applied in
the instant case – once a question of law has been examined and
Whether the complaint complied with the mandatory requirements decided, it should be deemed settled and closed to further
provided under Section 3(a), Rule 112 of the Rules of Court and argument.40
Section 18, paragraphs (c) and (d) of
We held in Soriano v. Hon. Casanova, after a close scrutiny of the
Republic Act No. 7653 letters transmitted by the BSP to the DOJ, that these were not
intended to be the complaint, as envisioned under the Rules. They
did not contain averments of personal knowledge of the events and
Petitioner moved to withdraw the first issue from the instant transactions constitutive of any offense. The letters merely
petition transmitted for preliminary investigation the affidavits of people
who had personal knowledge of the acts of petitioner. We ruled
On March 5, 2007, the Court noted35 petitioner's Manifestation and that these affidavits, not the letters transmitting them, initiated the
Motion for Partial Withdrawal of the Petition36 dated February 7, preliminary investigation. Since these affidavits were subscribed
2007. In the said motion, petitioner informed the Court of the under oath by the witnesses who executed them before a notary
promulgation of a Decision entitled Soriano v. Hon. Casanova,37 public, then there was substantial compliance with Section 3(a),
which also involved petitioner and similar BSP letters to the DOJ. Rule 112 of the Rules of Court.
According to petitioner, the said Decision allegedly ruled squarely
on the nature of the BSP letters and the validity of the sworn Anent the contention that there was no authority from the BSP
affidavits attached thereto. For this reason, petitioner moved for Governor or the Monetary Board to file a criminal case against
the partial withdrawal of the instant petition insofar as it involved Soriano, we held that the requirements of Section 18, paragraphs
the issue of "whether or not a court can legally acquire jurisdiction (c) and (d) of RA 7653 did not apply because the BSP did not
over a complaint which failed to comply with the mandatory institute the complaint but merely transmitted the affidavits of the
requirements provided under Section 3(a), Rule 112 of the Rules of complainants to the DOJ.
Court and Section 18, paragraphs (c) and (d) of RA 7653".38
We further held that since the offenses for which Soriano was
Given that the case had already been submitted for resolution of charged were public crimes, authority holds that it can be initiated
the Court when petitioner filed his latest motion, and that all by "any competent person" with personal knowledge of the acts
respondents had presented their positions and arguments on the committed by the offender. Thus, the witnesses who executed the
first issue, the Court deems it proper to rule on the same. affidavits clearly fell within the purview of "any competent person"
who may institute the complaint for a public crime.
In Soriano v. Hon. Casanova, the Court held that the affidavits
attached to the BSP transmittal letter complied with the mandatory The ruling in Soriano v. Hon. Casanova has been adopted and
requirements under the Rules of Court. elaborated upon in the recent case of Santos-Concio v. Department
of Justice.41 Instead of a transmittal letter from the BSP, the Court in
To be sure, the BSP letters involved in Soriano v. Hon. Casanova39 Santos-Concio was faced with an NBI-NCR Report, likewise with
are not the same as the BSP letter involved in the instant case. affidavits of witnesses as attachments. Ruling on the validity of the
However, the BSP letters in Soriano v. Hon. Casanova and the BSP witnesses’ sworn affidavits as bases for a preliminary investigation,
letter subject of this case are similar in the sense that they are all we held:
signed by the OSI officers of the BSP, they were not sworn to by the
said officers, they all contained summaries of their attached The Court is not unaware of the practice of incorporating all
affidavits, and they all requested the conduct of a preliminary allegations in one document denominated as "complaint-affidavit."
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It does not pronounce strict adherence to only one approach, law enforcer as the nominal complainant. To require otherwise is a
however, for there are cases where the extent of one’s personal needless exercise. The cited case of Oporto, Jr. v. Judge Monserate
knowledge may not cover the entire gamut of details material to does not appear to dent this proposition. After all, what is required
the alleged offense. The private offended party or relative of the is to reduce the evidence into affidavits, for while reports and even
deceased may not even have witnessed the fatality, in which case raw information may justify the initiation of an investigation, the
the peace officer or law enforcer has to rely chiefly on affidavits of preliminary investigation stage can be held only after sufficient
witnesses. The Rules do not in fact preclude the attachment of a evidence has been gathered and evaluated which may warrant the
referral or transmittal letter similar to that of the NBI-NCR. Thus, in eventual prosecution of the case in court.42
Soriano v. Casanova, the Court held:
Following the foregoing rulings in Soriano v. Hon. Casanova and
A close scrutiny of the letters transmitted by the BSP and PDIC to Santos-Concio v. Department of Justice, we hold that the BSP letter,
the DOJ shows that these were not intended to be the complaint taken together with the affidavits attached thereto, comply with
envisioned under the Rules. It may be clearly inferred from the the requirements provided under Section 3(a), Rule 112 of the
tenor of the letters that the officers merely intended to transmit the Rules of Court and Section 18, paragraphs (c) and (d) of RA 7653.
affidavits of the bank employees to the DOJ. Nowhere in the
transmittal letters is there any averment on the part of the BSP and Second Issue:
PDIC officers of personal knowledge of the events and transactions
constitutive of the criminal violations alleged to have been made by Whether a loan transaction within the ambit of the DOSRI law
the accused. In fact, the letters clearly stated that what the OSI of (violation of Section 83 of RA 337, as amended) could be the
the BSP and the LIS of the PDIC did was to respectfully transmit to subject of Estafa under Article 315 (1) (b) of the
the DOJ for preliminary investigation the affidavits and personal
knowledge of the acts of the petitioner. These affidavits were
subscribed under oath by the witnesses who executed them before Revised Penal Code
a notary public. Since the affidavits, not the letters transmitting
them, were intended to initiate the preliminary investigation, we The second issue was raised by petitioner in the context of his
hold that Section 3(a), Rule 112 of the Rules of Court was Motion to Quash Information on the ground that the facts charged
substantially complied with. do not constitute an offense.43 It is settled that in considering a
motion to quash on such ground, the test is "whether the facts
Citing the ruling of this Court in Ebarle v. Sucaldito, the Court of alleged, if hypothetically admitted, would establish the essential
Appeals correctly held that a complaint for purposes of preliminary elements of the offense charged as defined by law. The trial court
investigation by the fiscal need not be filed by the offended party. may not consider a situation contrary to that set forth in the
The rule has been that, unless the offense subject thereof is one criminal complaint or information. Facts that constitute the defense
that cannot be prosecuted de oficio, the same may be filed, for of the petitioner[s] against the charge under the information must
preliminary investigation purposes, by any competent person. The be proved by [him] during trial. Such facts or circumstances do not
crime of estafa is a public crime which can be initiated by "any constitute proper grounds for a motion to quash the information on
competent person." The witnesses who executed the affidavits the ground that the material averments do not constitute the
based on their personal knowledge of the acts committed by the offense". 44
petitioner fall within the purview of "any competent person" who
may institute the complaint for a public crime. x x x (Emphasis and We have examined the two informations against petitioner and we
italics supplied) find that they contain allegations which, if hypothetically admitted,
would establish the essential elements of the crime of DOSRI
A preliminary investigation can thus validly proceed on the basis of violation and estafa thru falsification of commercial documents.
an affidavit of any competent person, without the referral
document, like the NBI-NCR Report, having been sworn to by the

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In Criminal Case No. 238-M-2001 for violation of DOSRI rules, the The bank money (amounting to P8 million) which came to the
information alleged that petitioner Soriano was the president of possession of petitioner was money held in trust or administration
RBSM; that he was able to indirectly obtain a loan from RBSM by by him for the bank, in his
putting the loan in the name of depositor Enrico Carlos; and that he
did this without complying with the requisite board approval, fiduciary capacity as the President of said bank.47 It is not accurate
reportorial, and ceiling requirements. to say that petitioner became the owner of the P8 million because it
was the proceeds of a loan. That would have been correct if the
In Criminal Case No. 237-M-2001 for estafa thru falsification of bank knowingly extended the loan to petitioner himself. But that is
commercial documents, the information alleged that petitioner, by not the case here. According to the information for estafa, the loan
taking advantage of his position as president of RBSM, falsified was supposed to be for another person, a certain "Enrico Carlos";
various loan documents to make it appear that an Enrico Carlos petitioner, through falsification, made it appear that said "Enrico
secured a loan of P8 million from RBSM; that petitioner succeeded Carlos" applied for the loan when in fact he ("Enrico Carlos") did
in obtaining the loan proceeds; that he later converted the loan not. Through such fraudulent device, petitioner obtained the loan
proceeds to his own personal gain and benefit; and that his action proceeds and converted the same. Under these circumstances, it
caused damage and prejudice to RBSM, its creditors, the BSP, and cannot be said that petitioner became the legal owner of the P8
the PDIC. million. Thus, petitioner remained the bank’s fiduciary with respect
to that money, which makes it capable of misappropriation or
Significantly, this is not the first occasion that we adjudge the conversion in his hands.
sufficiency of similarly worded informations. In Soriano v. People,45
involving the same petitioner in this case (but different The next question is whether there can also be, at the same time, a
transactions), we also reviewed the sufficiency of informations for charge for DOSRI violation in such a situation wherein the accused
DOSRI violation and estafa thru falsification of commercial bank officer did not secure a loan in his own name, but was alleged
documents, which were almost identical, mutatis mutandis, with to have used the name of another person in order to indirectly
the subject informations herein. We held in Soriano v. People that secure a loan from the bank. We answer this in the affirmative.
there is no basis for the quashal of the informations as "they Section 83 of RA 337 reads:
contain material allegations charging Soriano with violation of
DOSRI rules and estafa thru falsification of commercial documents". Section 83. No director or officer of any banking institution shall,
either directly or indirectly, for himself or as the representative or
Petitioner raises the theory that he could not possibly be held liable agent of others, borrow any of the deposits of funds of such bank,
for estafa in concurrence with the charge for DOSRI violation. nor shall he become a guarantor, indorser, or surety for loans from
According to him, the DOSRI charge presupposes that he acquired such bank to others, or in any manner be an obligor for moneys
a loan, which would make the loan proceeds his own money and borrowed from the bank or loaned by it, except with the written
which he could neither possibly misappropriate nor convert to the approval of the majority of the directors of the bank, excluding the
prejudice of another, as required by the statutory definition of director concerned. Any such approval shall be entered upon the
estafa.46 On the other hand, if petitioner did not acquire any loan, records of the corporation and a copy of such entry shall be
there can be no DOSRI violation to speak of. Thus, petitioner posits transmitted forthwith to the Superintendent of Banks. The office of
that the two offenses cannot co-exist. This theory does not any director or officer of a bank who violates the provisions of this
persuade us. section shall immediately become vacant and the director or officer
shall be punished by imprisonment of not less than one year nor
Petitioner’s theory is based on the false premises that the loan was more than ten years and by a fine of not less than one thousand
extended to him by the bank in his own name, and that he became nor more than ten thousand pesos. x x x
the owner of the loan proceeds. Both premises are wrong.
The prohibition in Section 83 is broad enough to cover various
modes of borrowing.[48] It covers loans by a bank director or
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officer (like herein petitioner) which are made either: (1) directly, of Section 83, even if petitioner did not secure the loan in his own
(2) indirectly, (3) for himself, (4) or as the representative or agent name.
of others. It applies even if the director or officer is a mere
guarantor, indorser or surety for someone else's loan or is in any The broad interpretation of the prohibition in Section 83 is justified
manner an obligor for money borrowed from the bank or loaned by by the fact that it even expressly covers loans to third parties
it. The covered transactions are prohibited unless the approval, where the third parties are aware of the transaction (such as
reportorial and ceiling requirements under Section 83 are complied principals represented by the DOSRI), and where the DOSRI’s
with. The prohibition is intended to protect the public, especially interest does not appear to be beneficial but even burdensome
the depositors,[49] from the overborrowing of bank funds by bank (such as in cases when the DOSRI acts as a mere guarantor or
officers, directors, stockholders and related interests, as such surety). If the law finds it necessary to protect the bank and the
overborrowing may lead to bank failures.[50] It has been said that banking system in such situations, it will surely be illogical for it to
"banking institutions are not created for the benefit of the directors exclude a case like this where the DOSRI acted for his own benefit,
[or officers]. While directors have great powers as directors, they using the name of an unsuspecting person. A contrary
have no special privileges as individuals. They cannot use the interpretation will effectively allow a DOSRI to use dummies to
assets of the bank for their own benefit except as permitted by law. circumvent the requirements of the law.
Stringent restrictions are placed about them so that when acting
both for the bank and for one of themselves at the same time, they In sum, the informations filed against petitioner do not negate each
must keep within certain prescribed lines regarded by the other.
legislature as essential to safety in the banking business".51
Third Issue:
A direct borrowing is obviously one that is made in the name of the
DOSRI himself or where the DOSRI is a named party, while an
indirect borrowing includes one that is made by a third party, but Is a Rule 65 petition for certiorari the proper remedy against an
the DOSRI has a stake in the transaction.52 The latter type – indirect Order denying a Motion to Quash?
borrowing – applies here. The information in Criminal Case 238-M-
2001 alleges that petitioner "in his capacity as President of Rural This issue may be speedily resolved by adopting our ruling in
Bank of San Miguel – San Ildefonso branch x x x indirectly Soriano v. People,55 where we held:
borrow[ed] or secure[d] a loan with [RBSM] x x x knowing fully well
that the same has been done by him without the written consent In fine, the Court has consistently held that a special civil action for
and approval of the majority of the board of directors x x x, and certiorari is not the proper remedy to assail the denial of a motion
which consent and approval the said accused deliberately failed to to quash an information. The proper procedure in such a case is for
obtain and enter the same upon the records of said banking the accused to enter a plea, go to trial without prejudice on his part
institution and to transmit a copy thereof to the supervising to present the special defenses he had invoked in his motion to
department of the said bank x x x by using the name of one quash and if after trial on the merits, an adverse decision is
depositor Enrico Carlos x x x, the latter having no knowledge of the rendered, to appeal therefrom in the manner authorized by law.
said loan, and once in possession of the said amount of eight Thus, petitioners should not have forthwith filed a special civil
million pesos (P8 million), [petitioner] converted the same to his action for certiorari with the CA and instead, they should have gone
own personal use and benefit".53 to trial and reiterated the special defenses contained in their
motion to quash. There are no special or exceptional circumstances
The foregoing information describes the manner of securing the in the present case that would justify immediate resort to a filing of
loan as indirect; names petitioner as the benefactor of the indirect a petition for certiorari. Clearly, the CA did not commit any
loan; and states that the requirements of the law were not reversible error, much less, grave abuse of discretion in dismissing
complied with. It contains all the required elements54 for a violation the petition.56

8
Fourth Issue: PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. FERNANDO VILLAMIN Y SAN JOSE
ALIAS ANDOY
Whether petitioner is entitled to a writ of injunction G.R. No. 175590
February 9, 2010
The requisites to justify an injunctive relief are: (1) the right of the
complainant is clear and unmistakable; (2) the invasion of the right DECISION
sought to be protected is material and substantial; and (3) there is
an urgent and paramount necessity for the writ to prevent serious PERALTA, J.:
damage. A clear legal right means one clearly founded in or
granted by law or is "enforceable as a matter of law." Absent any This is an appeal from the Decision1 dated July 19, 2006 of the
clear and unquestioned legal right, the issuance of an injunctive Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR-HC No. 00967, affirming the
writ would constitute grave abuse of discretion.57 Caution and Decision2 dated May 7, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
prudence must, at all times, attend the issuance of an injunctive Malolos, Bulacan, Branch 20, in Criminal Case No. 2332-M-2002,
writ because it effectively disposes of the main case without trial finding accused-appellant Fernando Villamin guilty beyond
and/or due process.58 In Olalia v. Hizon,59 the Court held as follows: reasonable doubt of violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act
(R.A.) 9165.
It has been consistently held that there is no power the exercise of
which is more delicate, which requires greater caution, deliberation The facts, as culled from the records, are the following:
and sound discretion, or more dangerous in a doubtful case, than
the issuance of an injunction. It is the strong arm of equity that Members of the Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) of San Jose del Monte
should never be extended unless to cases of great injury, where Police Station received a report from a civilian informant and from
courts of law cannot afford an adequate or commensurate remedy the Barangay Captain of Barangay Gumaok, San Jose del Monte,
in damages. Bulacan sometime during the first week of August 2002, that a
certain Fernando Villamin, alias "Andoy," was engaged in the sale
Every court should remember that an injunction is a limitation upon of shabu3 in that same place. 4 Thus, a team composed of Senior
the freedom of action of the [complainant] and should not be Police Officer 2 (SPO2) Mario Llarinas, Eduardo Ocampo, a police
granted lightly or precipitately. It should be granted only when the aide, and a civilian asset, was formed to conduct a test-buy
court is fully satisfied that the law permits it and the emergency operation of shabu from accused-appellant.5
demands it.
A civilian asset of the DEU and Police Aide Eduardo Ocampo, on
Given this Court's findings in the earlier issues of the instant case, August 15, 2002, went to accused-appellant in order to buy shabu.
we find no compelling reason to grant the injunctive relief sought Accused-appellant informed them that he ran out of stock and
by petitioner. asked them to return the following day. When the civilian asset and
Eduardo Ocampo returned the next day, accused-appellant
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed September 26, informed them that the shabu was not yet available and again
2003 Decision as well as the February 5, 2004 Resolution of the suggested that they return the following day.6
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 67657 are AFFIRMED. Costs
against petitioner. On August 17, 2002, a team -- composed of SPO4 Abelardo Taruc;
Police Officers 2 (PO2) Mario Llarinas and Nasser Saiyadi; members
SO ORDERED. of the DEU; and four (4) police aides, namely; Eduardo Ocampo,
Jude Illana, Glendo Villamor, and Jerson Bausa -- was then formed
to conduct a buy-bust operation directed at accused-appellant.7
The designated leader and poseur-buyer was SPO4 Taruc.8 In

9
connection therewith, SPO4 Taruc prepared two P100.00 marked Nellson Sta. Maria, after conducting a series of tests to determine
bills before the buy-bust operation.9 the contents of the gathered pieces of evidence, came out with the
following findings:
The team then proceeded to Barangay Gumaok, San Jose del
Monte, Bulacan at around 11:00 o'clock in the morning. SPO4 Taruc SPECIMEN SUBMITTED:
and the civilian asset approached the house of accused-appellant,
while the rest positioned themselves at strategic locations near the A - One (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet with markings
house. The civilian asset introduced SPO4 Taruc to accused- "AT-FV" containing 0.145 gram of white crystalline substance.
appellant and told the latter that SPO4 Taruc wanted to buy shabu
worth P200.00. Accused-appellant responded, saying, "Meron na, xxx
meron na."10 Afterwards, accused-appellant entered his house.
When accused-appellant opened the door of the house, SPO4 Taruc
noticed that there were several people sniffing shabu inside the FINDINGS:
same house. After a few minutes, accused-appellant came out of
his house holding a small packet/plastic sachet. Accused-appelant Qualitative examination conducted on the above stated specimens
approached SPO4 Taruc, and the latter handed the former the two gave POSITIVE result to the test for the presence of
P100.00 marked bills. Thereafter, accused-appellant gave the Methylamphetamine hydrochloride,16 a regulated drug.17
plastic sachet he was holding to SPO4 Taruc.11
Resultantly, three separate Informations were filed charging
SPO4 Taruc, after making sure that the content of the plastic accused-appellant, and the others who were caught during the buy-
sachet was indeed shabu, held the hands of accused-appellant and bust operation, with violation of Secs. 5, 6 and 11, Art. II of R.A.
placed him under arrest. Accused-appellant was, thereafter, frisked 9165, which read, as follows:
and the marked money, along with six more sachets of shabu, were
seized from him. As a signal to the other members of the buy-bust Criminal Case No. 2331-M-2002
operation team that the transaction was already completed, SPO4
Taruc placed his hand on his head. Hence, the rest of the team The undersigned City Prosecutor accuses Fernando Villamin y San
hurried to apprehend accused-appellant and the other people Jose alias Andoy of violation of Section 11, Art. II of R.A. 9165,
inside the house. However, the others scampered to different otherwise known as "The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of
directions.12 The police officers and their aides were able to 2002," committed as follows:
apprehend only two women, namely: Alma Frial, accused-
appellant's neighbor, and Joselyn Patilano-Cabardo, accused- That on or about the 17th day of August, 2002, in San Jose del
appellant's live-in partner.13 Monte City, province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused,
Also recovered inside the house of accused-appellant were six without authority of law and legal justification, did then and there
other sachets of shabu and shabu paraphernalia. Subsequently, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession and
accused-appellant, Alma Frial, and Joselyn Patilano-Cabardo, as well control six (6) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets containing
as the evidence recovered, were brought to the police Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride having a total weight of 1,042
headquarters where the members of the buy-bust operation team grams, which is a regulated drug.
also prepared their joint affidavits.14
Contrary to law.
The seven (7) plastic sachets of shabu, including the one bought
from accused-appellant during the buy-bust operation, as well as Criminal Case No. 2332-M-2002
the drug paraphernalia, were referred to the Philippine National
Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory.15 Forensic Chemist, PNP Inspector
10
The undersigned City Prosecutor accuses Fernando Villamin y San Cabardo.23 According to accused-appellant, on August 17, 2002,
Jose alias Andoy of Violation of Section 5, Art. II of R. A. 9165, around 7:00 o'clock in the morning, he was having breakfast inside
otherwise known as "The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of his house at Barangay Gumaok, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, when
2002," committed as follows: three persons entered his house through the kitchen door. Alma
Prial, one of the three persons, asked accused-appellant if she and
That on or about the 17th day of August, 2002, in San Jose del her companions could stay in his house because somebody was
Monte City, province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the chasing them, and said that one of her companions was in trouble.
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, Accused-appellant refused the request of Alma for fear of being
without authority of law and legal justification, did then and there implicated in whatever trouble Alma and her two companions were
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously sell, deliver dispatch in transit involved. Accused-appellant added that Joselyn Patilano-Cabardo,
and transport one (1) heat-sealed transparent plastic sachet his live-in partner, overheard the above conversation and told the
containing Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride weighing .145 gram, former not to allow Alma Frial and her companions to stay in their
which is a regulated drug. house. Accused-appellant, in turn, told Alma Frial about the
sentiments of his live-in partner.
Contrary to law.
Later on, as narrated by accused-appellant, somebody kicked the
Criminal Case No. 2333-M-2002 kitchen door of his house. Three men entered as the door opened,
with one of them saying, "Walang kikilos, dyan ka lang." The two
other men immediately proceeded to the room of accused-
The undersigned City Prosecutor accuses Fernando Villamin y San appellant and Cabardo. Accused-appellant was then asked,
Jose alias Andoy of Violation of Section 6, Art. II of R. A. 9165, "Nasaan na yung mga kasama mo?" To this he replied that nobody
otherwise known as "The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of else was inside the house except he and his live-in partner. Upon
2002," committed as follows: realizing the commotion, accused-appellant's live-in partner
shouted, "Wala kayong karapatan na pumasok dito."
That on or about the 17th day of August, 2002, San Jose del Monte
City, province of Bulacan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of Meanwhile, somebody outside the house shouted, "Mayroong tao
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without authority dito." Thereafter, four persons, one of them Alma Frial, entered
of law and legal justification, did then and there willfully, unlawfully accused-appellant's house. One of the men who earlier barged
and feloniously openly maintain his residence located at Brgy. inside the house of accused-appellant said, "Sinungaling ka, ang
Gumaok East, this City, as drug den where drugs are sabi mo hindi nanggaling dito yang mga taong iyan." Joselyn
administered/sold, dispensed and used. Patilano-Cabardo tried to help accused-appellant but another man
said, "Isa ka pa, maingay ka, kasama ka rin." It was then that SPO4
Contrary to law. Taruc ordered, "Dalhin na ninyo iyan." However, Cabardo said,
"Bakit ninyo kami dadalhin, wala naman kaming kasalanan?"
On September 4, 2002, accused-appellant pleaded Not Guilty to all
the charges against him. Thereafter, trial ensued. In short, accused-appellant denied that he was caught selling
shabu, a denial which Joselyn Patilano-Cabardo corroborated.
The Prosecution presented the testimonies of Police Officer 3 (PO3)
Nasser Saiyadi,18 SPO4 Abelardo Taruc,19 SPO2 Mario Llarina,20 and The RTC found accused-appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt
Police Aide Eduardo Ocampo21 who testified as to the facts earlier of violation of Section 5, Article II of R.A. 9165 in Criminal Case No.
narrated. 2332-M-2002, but acquitted him of the other charges. The
dispositive portion of the trial court's decision reads:
The defense, on the other hand, presented the testimonies of
accused-appellant22 and his live-in partner, Joselyn Patilano-
11
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as The CA, in its Decision dated July 19, 2006, affirmed the conviction
follows: of accused-appellant. The dispositive portion reads as follows:

(1) In Criminal Case No. 2332-M-2002, the Court finds WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is hereby
accused Fernando Villamin y San Jose, guilty beyond DISMISSED for lack of merit, and the assailed decision is AFFIRMED
reasonable doubt of Violation of Section 5, Article II of R. A. and UPHELD in toto.
9165 and hereby sentences him to life imprisonment. He is
also ordered to pay a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos SO ORDERED.
(P500,00.00);
Accused-appellant, in his Brief dated September 20, 2004, ascribes
(2) In Criminal Cases Nos. 2331-M-2002 and 2333-M-2002, the following errors, to wit:
the Court finds that the prosecution failed to prove beyond
reasonable doubt the guilt of accused Fernando Villamin y I
San Jose of the crimes charged and he is therefore
acquitted;
THE COURT A-QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE
GUILT OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT FOR THE CRIME
(3) For insufficiency of evidence, the Court hereby acquits CHARGED HAS BEEN PROVEN BEYOND REASONABLE
accused Joselyn Patilano-Cabardo and Alma Frial y Caluntod DOUBT.
in Criminal Case No. 2334-M-2002.
II
The dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia submitted as
evidence in these cases are hereby ordered to be transmitted to
the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB). THE COURT A-QUO GRAVELY ERRED IN DISREGARDING THE
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF THE ACCUSED-APPELLANT
AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES.
SO ORDERED.
Accused-appellant claims that he was not given the opportunity to
Due to the penalty imposed, which is Life Imprisonment, the case know the reason for his arrest, as he was immediately handcuffed
was elevated to this Court on appeal. However, per Resolution24 of by the arresting officers, making it appear that he was caught in
this Court dated March 28, 2005, the case was transferred to the flagrante selling shabu, which is in contravention of his rights
CA in conformity with the Decision of this Court dated July 7, 2004 against unreasonable searches and seizures as embodied under
in People v. Mateo,25 modifying the pertinent provisions of the the 1987 Philippine Constitution. He further argues that the
Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, particularly Sections 3 and 10 presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty cannot
of Rule 122, Section 13 of Rule 124, Section 3 of Rule 125, and any prevail over the constitutionally protected rights of an individual.
other rule insofar as it provides for direct appeals from the RTC to
this Court in cases where the penalty imposed is death, reclusion
perpetua or life imprisonment; as well as the resolution of this The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), in its Brief, states the
Court en banc, dated September 19, 1995, on Internal Rules of the argument that:
Supreme Court, in cases similarly involving the death penalty,
pursuant to this Court's power to promulgate rules of procedure in THE PROSECUTION SATISFACTORILY PROVED THE GUILT OF
all courts under Article VIII, Section 5 of the Constitution, and APPELLANT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.
allowing an intermediate review by the CA before such cases are
elevated to this Court. The OSG posits that the crime of drug pushing merely requires the
consummation of the sale, whereby the pusher hands over the

12
drugs to the buyer in exchange for money, which the prosecution is Q: Do you rcall if you have reported for duty on August 17, 2002?
able to prove beyond reasonable doubt. It further contends that,
accused-appellant's denial cannot prevail over his positive A: Yes, sir.
identification as a peddler of shabu. As to the claim of accused-
appellant that his arrest and the search made by the police officers Q: At what time did you report for duty on said date?
were illegal, the OSG points out that during his testimony, when
asked if he ever protested his arrest during the time of the arrest
itself, accused-appellant admitted that he merely informed the A: At about 9:00 o'clock in the morning, sir.
prosecutor about it, but did not file any written complaint or protest
against the arresting officers.1avvphi1 Q: When you reported for duty, do you recall if there was unusual
incident that transpired thereat?
The appeal is devoid of any merit.
A: When we were instructed to proceed to Gumaok East to conduct
The elements necessary for the prosecution of the illegal sale of buy-bust operation, sir.
drugs are: (1) the identities of the buyer and the seller, the object,
and the consideration; and (2) the delivery of the thing sold and the Q: Who instructed you to conduct buy-bust operation at Gumaok
payment therefor. What is material to the prosecution for the illegal East, San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan?
sale of dangerous drugs is the proof that the transaction or sale
actually took place, coupled with the presentation in court of A: Our chief of police, sir.
evidence of corpus delicti.26
Q: And who is your chief of police Mr. Witness, at that time?
All of the above elements have been proven to be present in this
case. The identities of the buyer and the seller, as well as the A: P/Sr. Supt. Romeo R. Palisoc, sir.
object and the consideration, were properly and sufficiently proven
by the prosecution. As testified to by SPO4 Taruc regarding the Q: Who are your companions who were directed by P/Sr. Supt.
buy-bust operation conducted: Palisoc to conduct buy-bust operation at Gumaok East, City of San
Jose del Monte?
Q: Mr. Witness, you stated that you are presently assigned at the
San Jose de Monte Police Station, will you please tell before this A: SPO2 Mario Llarinas, PO3 Nasser Saiyadi and the other members
Honorable Court what particular unit or division were you assigned? of our station, sir.

A: At DEU, sir. Q: What did you prepare if any prior to the actual buy-bust
operation that took place at Gumaok East, San Jose del Monte City,
Q: Being assigned at the DEU of the San Jose del Monte Police Bulacan?
Station, will you please tell before this Honorable Court your
specific duties as such? A: The vehicle and our buy-bust money, sir.

A: I am the chief of that section, sir. Q: How much buy-bust money did you prepare?

Q: Being the chief of the said section of the DEU, will you please tell A: Two hundred pesos (P200.00), sir.
before this Honorable Court your duties as chief of the office?

A: To arrest drug pushers and drug users, sir.


13
Q: Will you please tell this Honorable Court your participation in the A: We arrived there at around 11:00 a. m., sir.
actual buy-bust operation?
Q: When you reached the place at 11:00 o'clock in the
A: As Poseur buyer, sir. morning, what transpired next if any?

Q: According to you you were directed by your chief of office to A: When we arrived there, we saw Andoy and he met us and
conduct buy-bust operation in Gumaok, and who is the person or announced "meron na, meron na," sir.
the subject of the buy-bust to be conducted by you?
Q: Mr. Witness let us clarify this matter, how many of you
A: Fernando Villamin alias Andoy, sir. proceeded to the place?

Q: Mr. Witness, I am showing to you two (2) one hundred peso bills A: Many, sir.
which according to you utilized as the buy-bust money, will you
please go over the same and tell before this Honorable Court what Q: According to you you acted as the poseur buyer, who
relation if any these two (2) one hundred peso bills? acted as the back up?

A: This is it, sir. A: Llarinas, Saiyadi and other DEU members, sir.

Q: Why do you say that these are the same two (2) one hundred Q: Who are the DEU members?
peso bills, what were your identifying mark if any?
A: Jerson Bausa, Eduardo Ocampo, Glendo Villamor and
A: My initial, sir. many others, sir.

Q: Will you please point your initial which according to you you put Q: When you reached the place, being the poseur buyer
there? what did you do?

A: Here, sir. (witness pointed to the initial AT written on the A: We bought already, sir.
collar of Manuel Roxas already marked as Exhibits A-1 and
B-1).27 Q: How about your other companions?

From the above testimony, it is clear that the first element A: They were from us, sir.
has been complied with: the poseur-buyer positively
identified the seller of shabu and the money used for the
sale of the same. The second and crucial element, which is Q From where you are, how far were back up positioned
the proof that a transaction indeed transpired between the themselves, if you know?
buyer and the seller, was categorically testified to by SPO4
Taruc, as follows: A: They were on the opposite side of the street and they
were hidden, sir.
Q: At what time did you actually proceed to Gumaok, San
Jose del Monte City, Bulacan to conduct buy-bust operation Q: According to you proceeded to the place, will you please
against Fernando Villamin? describe the place?

14
A: It is a small house made of wood and hollow blocks, sir. A: He turned his back and went inside and get the shabu
and came back carrying the shabu already, sir.
Q: Who owns the place?
Q: Mr. Witness let us be specific, you stated he went inside,
A: Fernando Villamin, sir. from where did he went inside?

Q: What happened next after you proceeded to the house of A: Inside his house, sir.
Fernando Vilamin?
xxx
A: I already bought shabu from him, sir.
Q: What happened next thereafter after Villamin went inside
Q: Where did the transaction take place? his house?

A: Near his house, sir. A: When Villamin entered his house and after we saw the
persons using shabu, he went outside and handed the shabu
Q: In front of the house? to me, sir.

A: Yes, sir. Q: How about the two hundred (P200.00)?

Q: Were you alone in buying the shabu? A: I handed to him, sir.

A: I was with our civilian asset, sir. Q: Which came first, the handing of shabu or the handing of
the two hundred (P200.00)?
Q So it is now very clear that you being the poseur buyer as
well as your asset together with Fernando Villamin were A: I first handed him the money and he handed to me the
alone in the place? shabu, sir.

A Yes, sir. Q: How many pieces of shabu?

Q: What happened next thereafter? A: Only one (1), sir.

A: When I said I am going to buy shabu, he readily gave me, Q: I am showing to you one small plastic sachet and inside is
sir. another plastic sachet which states BB OPN and Exhibit A,
will you please go over the same and tell before this
Honorable Court what relation if any that one small plastic
Q: What happened next thereafter? sachet?

A: When I said I am going to buy shabu, he readily gave me, A: This is what he handed me, sir. (witness referring to one
sir. small plastic sachet placed inside a bigger sachet with
marking BB OPN)
Q: What happened next thereafter?
xxx
15
Q: After the accused handed to you the shabu which is the As an added argument, the accused-appellant questions the
subject of the buy-bust, what happened next if any? legality of his arrest. He claims that he was not given the
opportunity to know the reason for his arrest, and that the arresting
A: I held him by his hand and announced to him that I am officers were not armed with any warrant for arrest. This Court,
arresting him for selling shabu, sir.28 however, finds the said argument to be preposterous. It must be
remembered that the accused-appellant was the subject of a buy-
As distinctly narrated above by the witness, a transaction indeed bust operation, the main goal of which was to catch him in
took place, which led to the arrest of the accused-appellant in flagrante selling shabu, and from the evidence for the prosecution,
flagrante. The other witnesses, members of the buy-bust operation he was arrested while committing a crime -- peddling of illegal
team, corroborated the above testimony of SPO4 Taruc. drugs, a circumstance where warrantless arrest is justified under
Rule 113, Section 5(a) of the Rules of Court, which states that:
Prosecutions involving illegal drugs depend largely on the
credibility of the police officers who conducted the buy-bust SEC. 5. Arrest without warrant; when lawful. - A peace officer or a
operation.29 It is a fundamental rule that findings of the trial courts, private person may, without a warrant, arrest a person:
which are factual in nature and which involve credibility, are
accorded respect when no glaring errors; gross misapprehension of (a) When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has
facts; or speculative, arbitrary, and unsupported conclusions can be committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an
gathered from such findings. The reason for this is that the trial offense.
court is in a better position to decide the credibility of witnesses,
having heard their testimonies and observed their deportment and xxx
manner of testifying during the trial. The rule finds an even more
stringent application where said findings are sustained by the Court A buy-bust operation is a form of entrapment which in recent years
of Appeals.30 has been accepted as a valid and effective mode of apprehending
drug pushers. In a buy-bust operation, the idea to commit a crime
Accused-appellant, during his testimony and in his Appellant's originates from the offender, without anybody inducing or prodding
Brief, merely denied the charge against him. According to him, he him to commit the offense.34 If carried out with due regard for
was just having breakfast when the members of the buy-bust team constitutional and legal safeguards, a buy-bust operation deserves
suddenly barged inside the house and arrested him. Against the judicial sanction.35 Thus, from the very nature of a buy-bust
positive testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, appellant’s plain operation, the absence of a warrant does not make the arrest
denial of the offenses charged, unsubstantiated by any credible illegal.
and convincing evidence, must simply fail.31 Frame-up, like alibi, is
generally viewed with caution by this Court, because it is easy to WHEREFORE, the appealed decision dated July 19, 2006 of the
contrive and difficult to disprove. Moreover, it is a common and Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. CR. - H. C. No. 00967, affirming the
standard line of defense in prosecutions of violations of the Decision dated May 7, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos,
Dangerous Drugs Act.32 For this claim to prosper, the defense must Bulacan, Branch 20 in Criminal Case No. 2332-M-2002, finding
adduce clear and convincing evidence to overcome the accused-appellant, Fernando Villamin y San Jose, guilty beyond
presumption that government officials have performed their duties reasonable doubt of violation of Section 5, Article II of Republic Act
in a regular and proper manner.33 Unfortunately, the accused- (R.A.) 9165 is hereby AFFIRMED in toto.
appellant miserably failed to present any evidence that the
members of the buy-bust operation team did not properly perform SO ORDERED.
their duty, or that the entire operation was coupled with any
improper motive.
Quintin Saludaga and Fiel Genio v Sandiganbayan

16
GR no. 184537 violation of Sec. 356 of Republic Act No. 7160 (The Local
April 23, 2010 Government Code) and COA Circular No. 91-368, to the damage
and prejudice of the government.
MENDOZA, J.:
CONTRARY TO LAW.
This is a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus
under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure with a prayer This case was initially raffled to the Third Division of
for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and temporary Sandiganbayan and was docketed as Criminal Case No. 26319.
restraining order assailing the July 14, 2008 Resolution of the In a Resolution promulgated on June 14, 2002, the Third
Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case No. SB-08 CRM 0263, denying the Division granted petitioners’ Motion to Quash and dismissed the
Motion for Preliminary Investigation filed by the petitioners who information “for failure of the prosecution to allege and prove the
were charged with a violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. amount of actual damages caused the government, an essential
3019, and the denial of their Motion for Reconsideration done in element of the crime charged.”
open court on August 13, 2008.
In a Memorandum dated July 1, 2003, the Ombudsman
An Information dated September 13, 2000 charging both directed the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to study the
petitioners with having violated Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. possibility of having the information amended and re-filed with the
3019, by causing undue injury to the government, reads: Sandiganbayan.

The undersigned Graft Investigation Officer of Thus, the OSP re-filed the Information dated August 17,
the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas, accuses 2007, this time, docketed as Criminal Case No. SB-08 CRM 0263,
QUINTIN B. SALUDAGA and SPO2 FIEL E. GENIO, for with the Fourth Division of the Sandiganbayan, charging the
VIOLATION OF SECTION 3(e) OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. petitioners for violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019, by giving
3019, AS AMENDED (THE ANTI-GRAFT AND CORRUPT unwarranted benefit to a private person, to the prejudice of the
PRACTICES ACT), committed as follows: government.

That in or about the months of November and December, 1997, at The information, subject of the petition, now reads:
the Municipality of Lavezares, Province of Northern Samar,
Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, The undersigned Prosecutor of the Office of the Special
above-named accused, public officials, being the Municipal Mayor Prosecutor/Office of the Ombudsman, hereby accuses, MAYOR
and PNP Member of Lavezares, Northern Samar in such capacity QUINTIN B. SALUDAGA and SPO2 FIEL E. GENIO, for the violation of
and committing the offense in relation to office, conniving, Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, as amended, otherwise known as
confederating and mutually helping with one another, and with the the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, committed as follows:
late Limpio Legua, a private individual, with deliberate intent, with
evident bad faith and manifest partiality, did then and there That in or about the months of November and December, 1997 at
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously enter into a Pakyaw Contract for the Municipality of Lavezares, Province of Northern Samar,
the Construction of Barangay Day Care Centers for Barangays Mac- Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court,
arthur and Urdaneta, Lavezares, Northern Samar, each in the accused QUINTIN B. SALUDAGA, a high ranking public official being
amount of FORTY-EIGHT THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PESOS then the Mayor of Lavezares, Northern Samar, and committing the
(P48,500.00), Philippine Currency, or a total amount of NINETY- crime herein charged while in the discharge of his official
SEVEN THOUSAND PESOS (P97,000.00), Philippine Currency, administrative function, conspiring and conniving with accused
without conducting a competitive public bidding, thus depriving the SPO2 FIEL B. GENIO, a member of Lavezares Police Force (PNP) and
government the chance to obtain the best, if not, the most with the late OLIMPIO LEGUA, a private individual, with deliberate
reasonable price, and thereby awarding said contracts to Olimpio intent, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally give
Legua, a non-license contractor and non-accredited NGO, in unwarranted benefit or advantage to the late Olimpio Legua,
17
a non-license contractor and non- accredited NGO, through the re-filed information. Thus, new preliminary
evident bad faith and manifest partiality by then and there entering investigation is not in order.
into a Pakyaw Contract with the latter for the Construction of
Barangay Day Care Centers for barangays Mac-Arthur and The dispositive portion of the Resolution states:
Urdaneta, Lavezares, Northern Samar, in the amount of FORTY
EIGHT THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PESOS (P48,500.00) each or a Finding the arguments of accused-movants
total of NINETY SEVEN THOUSAND PESOS (P97,000.00) Philippine indefensible, the sufficiency of the information must
Currency, without the benefit of a competitive public bidding to the be sustained.
prejudice of the Government and public interest.
WHEREFORE, having established the
CONTRARY TO LAW. sufficiency of the Information, the motion under
consideration is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
Petitioners filed a Motion for Preliminary Investigation dated Accordingly, the arraignment of both accused shall
June 4, 2008 which was strongly opposed by the prosecution proceed as scheduled.
in its Opposition dated June 18, 2008.
Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated
Petitioners contend that the failure of the prosecution to August 6, 2008, submitting that the two Informations
conduct a new preliminary investigation before the filing of the substantially charged different offenses, such that the
second Information constituted a violation of the law because the present information constituted a substitution that should
latter charged a different offense–that is, violation of Section 3(e) have been preceded by a new preliminary investigation.
by giving unwarranted benefit to private parties. Hence, there was
a substitution of the first Information. They argue that assuming On August 13, 2008, in a hearing for the arraignment of
that no substitution took place, at the very least, there was a petitioners, the Sandiganbayan denied the Motion in open
substantial amendment in the new information and that its court.
submission should have been preceded by a new preliminary
investigation. Further, they claim that newly discovered evidence Hence, petitioners interpose the present petition for
mandates re-examination of the finding of a prima facie cause to certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with prayer for the
file the case. issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and temporary
restraining order under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court
On July 14, 2008, the Sandiganbayan Fourth Division issued anchored on the following grounds:
the assailed Resolution denying the petitioners’ motion for
preliminary investigation. The graft court found that there is no I
substituted information or substantial amendment that would
warrant the conduct of a new preliminary investigation. It gave the THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN ACTED WITH
following ratiocination: GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK
OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT REFUSED TO
The re-filed information did not change the ORDER THE PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION OF THE
nature of the offense charged, but merely modified CASE A QUO, WHEN THE SECOND INFORMATION IN
the mode by which accused committed the offense. THE INSTANT CASE CONSTITUTED SUBSTITUTED
The substance of such modification is not such as to INFORMATION WHOSE SUBMISSION REQUIRED THE
necessitate the conduct of another preliminary CONDUCT OF PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION.
investigation.
II
Moreover, no new allegations were made, nor
was the criminal liability of the accused upgraded in
18
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN ACTED WITH second Information, and that its submission should have
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK been preceded by a new preliminary investigation.
OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT REFUSED TO
ORDER THE CONDUCT OF A PRELIMINARY We find no merit in this petition.
INVESTIGATION OF THE CASE A QUO, SINCE THE
SECOND INFORMATION THEREIN CONTAINED Petitioners were charged with a violation of Section
SUBSTANTIAL AMENDMENTS WHOSE SUBMISSION 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
REQUIRED THE CONDUCT OF PRELIMINARY Act which reads:
INVESTIGATION. Section 3. Corrupt practices of public officers.- In
III addition to acts or omissions of public officers already
penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN ACTED WITH corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK declared to be unlawful:
OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN IT REFUSED TO
ORDER THE PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATION OF THE (e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including
CASE A QUO, ALTHOUGH THE NEWLY DISCOVERED the Government, or giving any private party any
EVIDENCE MANDATES DUE RE-EXAMINATION OF THE unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the
FINDING THAT PRIMA FACIE CAUSE EXISTED TO FILE discharge of his official, administrative or judicial functions
THE CASE A QUO. through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross
inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to
From the arguments raised by petitioners, the core officers and employees charged with the grant of licenses or
issue is whether or not the two (2) ways of violating section permits or other concessions.
3(e) of Republic Act 3019, namely: (a) by causing undue
injury to any party, including the Government; or (b) by The essential elements of the offense are as follows:
giving any private party any unwarranted benefit,
advantage or preference constitute two distinct and
separate offenses that would warrant a new or another 1. The accused must be a public
preliminary investigation. officer discharging administrative,
judicial or official functions;
In its Comment dated January 12, 2009, respondent
People of the Philippines, represented by the Office of the 2. He must have acted with manifest
Special Prosecutor, counters that there is no substituted partiality, evident bad faith or
information in contemplation of law and jurisprudence that inexcusable negligence; and
would require the conduct of another preliminary
investigation. There is no newly-discovered evidence that 3. That his action caused any undue
would lead to a different determination should there be injury to any party, including the
another preliminary investigation conducted. government, or giving any private
party unwarranted benefits, advantage
In their Reply, dated April 24, 2009, petitioners insist or preference in the discharge of his
that the offenses charged in the first and second functions.
Information are not the same, and what transpired was a
substitution of Information that required prior conduct of In a string of decisions, the Court has consistently ruled:
preliminary investigation. Even assuming there was no
substitution, substantial amendments were made in the R.A. 3019, Section 3, paragraph (e), as
amended, provides as one of its elements that the
19
public officer should have acted by causing any denial of petitioners’ claim for a new investigation, however, did
undue injury to any party, including the Government, not deprive them of their right to due process. An examination of
or by giving any private party unwarranted benefits, the records of the case discloses that there was a full-blown
advantage or preference in the discharge of his preliminary investigation wherein both petitioners actively
functions. The use of the disjunctive term “or” participated.
connotes that either act qualifies as a violation of
Section 3 paragraph (e), or as aptly held in Santiago, Anent the contention of petitioners that the information
as two (2) different modes of committing the contained substantial amendments warranting a new preliminary
offense. This does not however indicate that each investigation, the same must likewise fail.
mode constitutes a distinct offense, but rather, that
an accused may be charged under either mode or Petitioners erroneously concluded that giving undue injury,
under both. as alleged in the first Information, and conferring unwarranted
benefits, alleged in the second Information, are two distinct
The afore-stated ruling is consistent with the well- violations of, or two distinct ways of violating Section 3(e) of
entrenched principle of statutory construction that “The word or is Republic Act No. 3019, and that such shift from giving undue injury
a disjunctive term signifying disassociation and independence of to conferring unwarranted benefit constituted, at the very least, a
one thing from the other things enumerated; it should, as a rule, be substantial amendment. It should be noted that the Information is
construed in the sense in which it ordinarily implies, as a founded on the same transaction as the first Information, that of
disjunctive word.” entering into a Pakyaw Contract for the construction of barangay
day care centers for barangays Mac-Arthur and Urdaneta,
Contrary to the argument of petitioners, there is no Lavezares, Northern Samar. Thus, the evidentiary requirements for
substituted information. The Information dated August 17, 2007 the prosecution and defense remain the same.
filed in Criminal Case No. SB-08 CRM 0263 charged the same
offense, that is, violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019. To bolster their claim for a reinvestigation of the offense,
Only the mode of commission was modified. While jurisprudence, petitioners cited the case of Matalam v. Sandiganbayan. The same
the most recent being Talaga, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan, provides that is inapplicable to petitioners’ case. In Matalam, there was indeed a
there are two (2) acts or modes of committing the offense, thus: a) substantial amendment which entitled the accused to another
by causing any undue injury to any party, including the preliminary investigation. The recital of facts constituting the
government; or b) by giving any private party any unwarranted offense charged therein was definitely altered. In the original
benefit, advantage or preference, it does not mean that each act or information, the prohibited act allegedly committed by the
mode constitutes a distinct offense. An accused may be charged petitioner was the illegal and unjustifiable refusal to pay the
under either mode or under both should both modes concur. monetary claims of the private complainants, whereas in the
amended information, it is the illegal dismissal from the service of
Petitioners’ reliance on the Teehankee v. Madayag, ruling the private complainants. In the case at bar, there is no substantial
that, “in substitution of information another preliminary amendment to speak of. As discussed previously, the Information
investigation is entailed and that the accused has to plead anew to in Criminal Case No. 26319 was already dismissed by the Third
the new information” is not applicable to the present case because, Division of the Sandiganbayan in view of the petitioners’ Motion to
as already stated, there is no substitution of information there Quash. As such, there is nothing more to be amended.
being no change in the nature of the offense charged.
The Court is not unaware of the case of People v. Lacson,
Consequently, petitioners cannot invoke the principle where it was written:
enunciated in Villaflor v. Vivar, that failure to conduct a new
preliminary investigation is tantamount to a violation of their The case may be revived by the State within
rights. While it is true that preliminary investigation is a statutory the time-bar either by the refiling of the Information
and substantive right accorded to the accused before trial, the or by the filing of a new Information for the same
20
offense or an offense necessarily included therein. be considered as newly found evidence because it was already in
There would be no need of a new preliminary existence prior to the re-filing of the case. In fact, such sworn
investigation. However, in a case wherein after the affidavit was among the documents considered during the
provisional dismissal of a criminal case, the original preliminary investigation. It was the sole annexed document to
witnesses of the prosecution or some of them may petitioners’ Supplement to Motion for Reinvestigation, offered to
have recanted their testimonies or may have died or dispute the charge that no public bidding was conducted prior to
may no longer be available and new witnesses for the execution of the subject project.
the State have emerged, a new preliminary
investigation must be conducted before an bgMore important is the prosecution’s statement in its
Information is refiled or a new Information is filed. A Memorandum that, “after a careful re-evaluation of the
new preliminary investigation is also required if aside documentary evidence available to the prosecution at the time of
from the original accused, other persons are charged the filing of the initial Information, and at the time of the re-filing of
under a new criminal complaint for the same offense the Information, the prosecution insists on the finding of probable
or necessarily included therein; or if under a new cause, an exercise within the exclusive province of the Office of the
criminal complaint, the original charge has been Ombudsman.”
upgraded; or if under a new criminal complaint, the
criminal liability of the accused is upgraded from that Worthy of note is the case of Soriano v. Marcelo, viz:
as an accessory to that as a principal. The accused
must be accorded the right to submit counter- Case law has it that the determination of
affidavits and evidence. probable cause against those in public office during a
preliminary investigation is a function that belongs to
No such circumstance is obtaining in this case, because the Office of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman has
there was no modification in the nature of the charged offense. the discretion to determine whether a criminal case,
Consequently, a new preliminary investigation is unnecessary and given its attendant facts and circumstances, should
cannot be demanded by the petitioners. be filed or not. It is basically his call.

Finally, the third assigned error, that newly discovered Without good and compelling reasons, the Court cannot
evidence mandates due re-examination of the finding of prima interfere in the exercise by the Office of the Ombudsman of its
facie cause to file the case, deserves scant consideration. For investigatory and prosecutory powers. The only ground upon which
petitioners, it is necessary that a new investigation be conducted to it may entertain a review of the Office of the Ombudsman’s action
consider newly discovered evidence, in particular, the Affidavit of is grave abuse of discretion.
COA Auditor Carlos G. Pornelos, author of the audit report. We are
not convinced. Grave abuse of discretion is an evasion of a positive duty or
a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law or to act in
Under Section 2, Rule 121 of the Rules of Court, the contemplation of law as when the judgment rendered is not based
requisites for newly discovered evidence are: (a) the evidence was on law and evidence but on caprice, whim and despotism.
discovered after trial (in this case, after investigation); (b) such
evidence could not have been discovered and produced at the trial The special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the
with reasonable diligence; and (c) that it is material, not merely Rules of Court is intended to correct errors of jurisdiction or grave
cumulative, corroborative or impeaching, and is of such weight abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. The
that, if admitted, will probably change the judgment. writ of certiorari is directed against a tribunal, board or officer
exercising judicial or quasi-judicial function that acted without or in
The Pornelos affidavit, which petitioners claim as newly- excess of its or his jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion.
discovered, was executed by affiant way back in November 29, Grave abuse of discretion means such capricious or whimsical
2000, as correctly found by the Sandiganbayan. Clearly, it cannot exercise of judgment which is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. To
21
justify the issuance of the writ of certiorari, the abuse of discretion University, filed a Complaint Affidavit with the Office of the
must be grave, as when the power is exercised in an arbitrary or Ombudsman against the officials of the same school, namely: Dr.
despotic manner by reason of passion or personal hostility, and it Ernesto M. De Chavez, President; Dr. Virginia M. Baes, Executive
must be so patent and gross as to amount to an evasion of a Vice-President; Dr. Rolando L. Lontok, Sr., Vice-President for
positive duty or to a virtual refusal to perform the duty enjoined, or Academic Affairs; Dr. Porfirio C. Ligaya, Vice-President for Extension
to act at all, in contemplation of law, as to be equivalent to having Campus Operations; Professor Maximo C. Panganiban, Dean and
acted without jurisdiction. Campus Administrator, Districts 1 and 2; Dr. Amador M. Lualhati,
University Secretary; and Marcelo L. Agustin, Researcher, Office of
The case at bench discloses no evident indication that the BSU President.
respondent Sandiganbayan acted with arbitrariness, whim or
caprice. It committed no error in refusing to order the conduct of According to petitioner, the above-named officials committed
another preliminary investigation. As sufficiently explained by the falsification of public documents and violations of Sections 3 (a)
prosecution, a new preliminary investigation is not necessary as and (e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt
there was neither a modification of the nature of the offense Practices Act, based on the following incidents:
charged nor a new allegation. Such conduct of preliminary
investigation anew will only delay the resolution of the case and The 129th General Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the
would be an exercise in futility in as much as there was a complete PBMIT/BSU transpired on January 21, 1997.
preliminary investigation actively participated by both petitioners.
In March 2001, petitioner, who was then the Board Secretary,
In view of the foregoing, we hold that the public respondent claimed that he found in his table, a final print of the Minutes of the
committed no grave abuse of discretion in issuing its Resolution of above-mentioned General Meeting which was forwarded by
July 14, 2008, denying petitioners’ motion for preliminary respondent Marcelo Agustin upon the order of respondent De
investigation in Criminal Case No. SB-08 CRM 0263. Chavez, in order for the petitioner to certify as to its correctness.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The fact that the said copy of the Minutes was given to him after a
Roberto b. kalalo long period of time and other inconsistencies found in the same
vs document, caused suspicion on the part of the petitioner. After
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, ERNESTO M. DE CHAVEZ and conducting his own investigation, petitioner questioned the
MARCELO L. AGUSTIN, following three (3) resolutions, which, according to him, were
G.R. No. 158189 inserted by De Chavez:
April 23, 2010
1) Resolution No. 6, s. 1997, which ratified the
DECISION referendum dated August 4, 1996 approving the
adjustment of charges or fees on the following
PERALTA, J.: documents issued by the college: 1) Admission and
Testing Fee, 2) Transcript of Records, 3) Certification,
This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of 4) Honorable Dismissal, 5) Diploma, 6) Fine (late
Court seeking to nullify and/or set aside the Resolution dated May enrollees), 7) Library Card, and 8) second copy of
14, 2002 and the Order dated October 8, 2002 of the Office of the Diploma;
Ombudsman.
2) Resolution No. 25, which relates to the
The antecedent facts are as follows. authorizing of the President of PBMIT/BSU to deposit
all the income of the college with government
Petitioner Roberto Kalalo, an employee of Pablo Borbon depositary banks in the form of savings, time, money
Memorial Institute of Technology (PBMIT), now Batangas State placement and other deposit accounts, and to open a

22
PBMIT testing, admission and placement office A careful evaluation of the case records and
account; the evidence submitted reveals that the charge of
falsification against respondents has no leg to stand
3) Resolution No. 26, refers to the resolution on.
approving the construction contracts entered into by
PBMIT with C.S. Rayos Construction and General What clearly appears on the records was that
Services for the construction of the DOST/FNRI/PBMIT complainant had issued certifications as to the
Regional Nutrition and Food Administration and correctness of the resolutions in question, namely,
Training Center and the Physical Education and Multi- Resolution Nos. 6, s. 1997; 25 and 26. Readily, it can
Purpose Playground. The contract prices for the be said that said certifications did not only dispute
approved projects were P2,693,642.90 and complainant's claim, but casts serious doubt as to
P968,283.63, respectively. the merit of the instant complaint as well.

It must be pointed out that complainant


As claimed by petitioner, the authentic minutes had eight (8) assailed the authenticity of the minutes of the 129th
pages, while the falsified one had nine (9) pages. Thus, he General Assembly meeting of the Board of Trustees
concluded that Resolution Nos. 25 and 26 were mere intercalations of PBMIT and accused herein respondent for
on the minutes of the annual meeting. allegedly inserting/intercalating therein the aforesaid
Resolution Nos. 6, 25 and 26.
Petitioner also claimed that respondent's deviation from the
usual procedure in signing and approving the minutes was highly With the foregoing certifications subscribed
suspicious. According to petitioner, the usual procedure was for by complainant himself confirming the authenticity of
respondent De Chavez, in his capacity as Vice-Chairman, to sign the subject resolutions and the contents thereof, we
the minutes only after the same has been attested by petitioner as fail to see any grounds for complainant to question
the Board Secretary. However, De Chavez submitted a copy of the the same.
minutes to petitioner with his signature already affixed thereon.
Thus, petitioner refused to sign the said minutes. IN THE LIGHT OF THE FOREGOING, it is
respectfully recommended that the instant complaint
Despite the refusal of petitioner to sign the minutes, be DISMISSED as it is hereby dismissed.
Resolution No. 25 was still implemented.
SO RESOLVED.

Respondents filed their Joint Counter-Affidavit denying


petitioner's allegations and stating that it was ministerial on the Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated August
part of respondent De Chavez to sign the minutes prepared by 16, 2002, which was denied by the Ombudsman in an Order dated
petitioner himself in his capacity as Board Secretary. Petitioner, on October 8, 2002 for lack of merit.
the other hand, reiterated and stood by his allegations in his Hence, the present petition.
Complainant's Reply to Respondents' Joint Counter-Affidavit dated
April 1, 2002. Petitioner raises the following arguments:

In its Resolution dated May 14, 2002, the Office of the Deputy I
Ombudsman for Luzon dismissed the complaint of petitioner stating PUBLIC RESPONDENT GRAVELY ABUSED ITS
that: DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK AND/OR EXCESS
OF JURISDICTION IN SERIOUSLY MISAPPRECIATING
THE FACTS AND ISSUES OF THE INSTANT CASE.
23
reason of passion or personal hostility, and it must be
II patent and gross as would amount to an evasion or
PUBLIC RESPONDENT GRAVELY ABUSED ITS to a unilateral refusal to perform the duty enjoined or
DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK AND/OR EXCESS to act in contemplation of law. Grave abuse of
OF JURISDICTION IN ISSUING THE ASSAILED discretion is not enough. Excess of jurisdiction
RESOLUTION AND ORDER WITHOUT FACTUAL AND signifies that the court, board or office, has
LEGAL BASES. jurisdiction over the case but has transcended the
same or acted without authority.
III
PUBLIC RESPONDENT GRAVELY ABUSED ITS After considering all the issues and arguments raised by the
DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK AND/OR EXCESS parties, this Court finds no clear showing of manifest error or grave
OF JURISDICTION IN NOT FINDING “PROBABLE abuse of discretion committed by the Office of the Ombudsman.
CAUSE” AGAINST BOTH PRIVATE RESPONDENTS.
As a general rule, courts do not interfere with the discretion
of the Ombudsman to determine whether there exists reasonable
The petition is bereft of merit. ground to believe that a crime has been committed and that the
accused is probably guilty thereof and, thereafter, to file the
Petitioner extensively and exhaustively discusses in his corresponding information with the appropriate courts.
petition, the differences between what he claimed to be the
falsified Minutes and what he presented as the true and authentic This Court has consistently held that the Ombudsman has
Minutes of the general meeting, and by not subscribing to his own discretion to determine whether a criminal case, given its facts and
findings, he now comes to this Court alleging that the Office of the circumstances, should be filed or not. It is basically his call. He
Ombudsman gravely abused its discretion which amounted to lack may dismiss the complaint forthwith should he find it to be
and/or excess of jurisdiction. insufficient in form and substance, or should he find it otherwise, to
continue with the inquiry; or he may proceed with the investigation
A careful reading of his arguments shows that the matters he if, in his view, the complaint is in due and proper form and
raised were purely factual. He claims that the Office of the substance.
Ombudsman grievously erred in finding that petitioner had issued
certifications as to the correctness of the resolutions in question, In the present case, the Office of the Ombudsman did not find
namely Resolution Nos. 6, s. 1997; 25 and 26, when, according to probable cause that would warrant the filing of Information against
petitioner, he positively asserted that the same were signed by respondents. Probable cause, for purposes of filing a criminal
mistake or out of sheer inadvertence. He went on to state that the information, has been defined as such facts as are sufficient to
signature on the questioned Minutes was forged and that the one engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed
inadvertently signed was the excerpts, not the Minutes. This line of and that respondents are probably guilty thereof. The
argument has been repeatedly emphasized along with his own determination of its existence lies within the discretion of the
findings of falsification. prosecuting officers after conducting a preliminary investigation
upon complaint of an offended party. Probable cause is meant
In alleging the existence of grave abuse of discretion, it is such set of facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably
well to remember Sarigumba v. Sandiganbayan, where this Court discreet and prudent man to believe that the offense charged in
ruled that: the Information, or any offense included therein, has been
committed by the person sought to be arrested. In determining
For grave abuse of discretion to prosper as a probable cause, the average man weighs facts and circumstances
ground for certiorari, it must first be demonstrated without resorting to the calibrations of the rules of evidence of
that the lower court or tribunal has exercised its which he has no technical knowledge. He relies on common
power in an arbitrary and despotic manner, by sense. A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on evidence
24
showing that more likely than not a crime has been committed and were those last mentioned as having been approved
that it was committed by the accused. Probable cause demands by the Board. It was quite, therefore, convenient for
more than bare suspicion; it requires less than evidence which complainant-movant to blame respondent Marcelo L.
would justify conviction. Unless it is shown that the questioned Agustin for having signed the questioned minutes
acts were done in a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment when it was his duty as Board Secretary to certify as
evidencing a clear case of grave abuse of discretion amounting to to the correctness of the minutes.
lack or excess of jurisdiction, this Court will not interfere in the
findings of probable cause determined by the Ombudsman. More telling is the fact that complainant-
movant again certified correct the excerpts of the
The findings of the Office of the Ombudsman, as contained minutes of the 129th Regular Meeting of then PBMIT
in its Order dated October 8, 2002, does not, in any way, indicate Board of Trustees pertaining to Resolution No. 6, s. of
the absence of any factual or legal bases, as shown in the 1997, approving the adjustment of charges or fees
following: not only to the admission/testing fees but including
transcript of records, certification, honorable
While we do acknowledge that the purpose of a dismissal, diploma, library card, fine (late enrollees)
preliminary investigation is to determine the and second copy of diploma. Given such situation,
existence of probable cause that which engender a we could not believe that complainant-movant
well-founded belief that an offense has been signed such excerpts of the minutes through the
committed and that the accused is probably guilty same inadvertence or oversight. A single mistake
thereof, we should not, however, lose sight of its may be acceptable but to commit the same twice is
other objective. In the case of Duterte v. no longer a case of honest mistake. Corollary
Sandiganbayan, 289 SCRA 721, it is equally intoned thereto, this finding precludes any further discussion
that the rationale for conducting a preliminary that the letter dated August 14, 1996 of respondent
investigation is “to secure the innocent against Ernesto M. de Chavez to then PBMIT Board of
hasty, malicious, oppressive prosecution, and to Trustees is conclusive proof that the increase in fees
protect him from an open and public accusation of a was limited only to the admission/testing fees.
crime, from the trouble, expenses and anxiety of a
public trial.” With the questioned minutes bearing It is not sound practice to depart from the policy of non-
the signature of complainant-movant, the evidence interference in the Ombudsman's exercise of discretion to
at hand tends to tilt in favor of the dismissal of the determine whether or not to file information against an accused. As
case. This is rightfully so as complainant-movant’s cited in a long line of cases, this Court has pronounced that it
signature was never alleged to have been falsified, cannot pass upon the sufficiency or insufficiency of evidence to
although he claims to have signed the minutes determine the existence of probable cause. The rule is based not
through inadvertence. only upon respect for the investigatory and prosecutory powers
granted by the Constitution to the Office of the Ombudsman, but
In relation thereto, complainant-movant’s upon practicality as well. If it were otherwise, this Court will be
assertion that his signature in the disputed minutes clogged with an innumerable list of cases assailing investigatory
was a case of oversight is hardly impressive. It proceedings conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman with
should be noted that the minutes of the 129th regard to complaints filed before it, to determine if there is
Regular Meeting of the then PBMIT Board of Trustees probable cause.
was approved during its 130th Regular Meeting held
on November 7, 1997. As the Board Secretary, Furthermore, it is not amiss to state that the findings of the
complainant-movant could have easily detected the Ombudsman are essentially factual in nature. Therefore, when
alleged insertions especially so when we consider petitioner assailed the findings of the Ombudsman on the guise
that Board Resolution Nos. 25 and 26, s. of 1997, that the latter committed grave abuse of discretion, questions of
25
fact are inevitably raised. Clearly, petitioner centered his proceedings; represent the
arguments on the Ombudsman’s appreciation of facts. It must Government and its officers in the
always be remembered that a petition for certiorari admits only of Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and
questions of grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess all other courts or tribunals in all civil
of jurisdiction and never on questions of fact. actions and special proceedings in
which the Government or any officer
Petitioner raises as an incidental issue in his Memorandum thereof in his official capacity is a
that the Solicitor General cannot act as the counsel of private party.
respondents in the instant criminal case, which is indisputable. The import of the above-quoted provision of
However, petitioner failed to understand that the Office of the the Administrative Code of 1987 is to impose upon
Solicitor General represents the public respondent − the Office of the Office of the Solicitor General the duty to appear
the Ombudsman − upon which his petition revolves. The Office of as counsel for the Government, its agencies and
the Ombudsman is an instrumentality of the government and, as instrumentalities and its officials and agents before
mandated by law, the Office of the Solicitor General has the the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and all
authority to represent the said office. Cooperative Development other courts and tribunals in any litigation,
Authority v. DOLEFIL Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the
Inc., et al. is instructive as to the jurisdiction of the Office of the services of a lawyer. Its mandatory character was
Solicitor General, which reads: emphasized by this Court in the case of Gonzales v.
Chavez, thus:
The authority of the Office of the Solicitor It is patent that the intent of the
General to represent the Republic of the Philippines, lawmaker was to give the designated
its agencies and instrumentalities, is embodied under official, the Solicitor General, in this
Section 35(1), Chapter 12, Title III, Book IV of the case, the unequivocal mandate to
Administrative Code of 1987, which provides that: appear for the government in legal
SEC. 35. Powers and Functions. proceedings. Spread out in the laws
—The Office of the Solicitor General creating the office is the discernible
shall represent the Government of the intent which may be gathered from the
Philippines, its agencies and term “shall”, which is invariably
intrumentalities and its officials and employed, from Act No. 136 (1901) to
agents in any litigation, proceeding, the more recent Executive Order No.
investigation or matter requiring the 292 (1987).
services of lawyers. When authorized xxx xx
by the President or head of the office x xxx
concerned, it shall also represent The decision of this Court as early as 1910
government owned or controlled with respect to the duties of the Attorney-General
corporations. The Office of the well applies to the Solicitor General under the facts
Solicitor General shall constitute the of the present case. The Court then declared:
law office of the Government and, as
such, shall discharge duties requiring In this jurisdiction, it is the duty
the services of lawyers. It shall have of the Attorney General “to perform the
the following specific powers and duties imposed upon him by law” and
functions: “he shall prosecute all causes, civil and
(1) Represent the criminal, to which the Government of the
Government in the Supreme Court and Philippine Islands, or any officer thereof,
the Court of Appeals in all criminal in his official capacity, is a party” xxx.
26
xxx xx
x xxx

The Court is firmly convinced that


considering the spirit and the letter of WONINA M. BONIFACIO, JOCELYN UPANO, VICENTE ORTUOSTE AND
the law, there can be no other logical JOVENCIO PERECHE, SR.,
interpretation of Sec. 35 of the vs.
Administrative Code than that it is, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF MAKATI, BRANCH 149, and JESSIE JOHN
indeed, mandatory upon the OSG to P. GIMENEZ,
“represent the Government of the G.R. No. 184800
Philippines, its agencies and May 5, 2010
instrumentalities and its officials and
agents in any litigation, proceeding,
investigation or matter requiring the DECISION
services of a lawyer.”
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit. The
Resolution dated May 14, 2002 and the Order dated October 8, Via a petition for Certiorari and Prohibition, petitioners Wonina M.
2002 of the Office of the Ombudsman are hereby AFFIRMED. Bonifacio, et al. assail the issuances of Branch 149 of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Makati (public respondent) Order1 of April 22,
SO ORDERED 2008 which denied their motion to quash the Amended Information
indicting them for libel, and Joint Resolution2 of August 12, 2008
denying reconsideration of the first issuance.

Private respondent Jessie John P. Gimenez3 (Gimenez) filed on


October 18, 2005, on behalf of the Yuchengco Family ("in
particular," former Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco and Helen Y.
Dee (Helen) and of the Malayan Insurance Co., Inc. (Malayan),4 a
criminal complaint,5before the Makati City Prosecutors Office, for
thirteen (13) counts of libel under Article 355 in relation to Article
353 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) against Philip Piccio, Mia
Gatmaytan and Ma. Anabella Relova Santos, who are officers of
Parents Enabling Parents Coalition, Inc. (PEPCI), John Joseph
Gutierrez, Jeselyn Upano, Jose Dizon, Rolanda Pareja, Wonina
Bonifacio, Elvira Cruz, Cornelio Zafra, Vicente Ortueste, Victoria
Gomez Jacinto, Jurencio Pereche, Ricardo Loyares and Peter
Suchianco, who are trustees of PEPCI, Trennie Monsod, a member
of PEPCI (collectively, the accused), and a certain John Doe, the
administrator of the website www.pepcoalition.com.

PEPCI appears to have been formed by a large group of disgruntled


planholders of Pacific Plans, Inc. (PPI) - a wholly owned subsidiary of
Great Pacific Life Assurance Corporation, also owned by the
27
Yuchengco Group of Companies (YGC) - who had previously FOR SURE MAY TACTICS PA SILANG NAKABASTA SA ATIN. LET US BE
purchased traditional pre-need educational plans but were unable READY FOR IT BECAUSE THEY HAD SUCCESSFULLY LULL US AND
to collect thereon or avail of the benefits thereunder after PPI, due THE NEXT TIME THEY WILL TRY TO KILL US NA. x x x 9 (emphasis in
to liquidity concerns, filed for corporate rehabilitation with prayer the original)
for suspension of payments before the Makati RTC.
By Resolution of May 5, 2006,10 the Makati City Prosecutors Office,
Decrying PPIs refusal/inability to honor its obligations under the finding probable cause to indict the accused, filed thirteen (13)
educational pre-need plans, PEPCI sought to provide a forum by separate Informations11 charging them with libel. The accusatory
which the planholders could seek redress for their pecuniary loss portion of one Information, docketed as Criminal Case No. 06-876,
under their policies by maintaining a website on the internet under which was raffled off to public respondent reads:
the address of www.pepcoalition.com.
That on or about the 25th day of August 2005 in Makati City, Metro
Gimenez alleged that PEPCI also owned, controlled and moderated Manila, Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction of the Honorable
on the internet a blogspot6 under the website Court, the above-named accused, being then the trustees of
addresswww.pacificnoplan.blogspot.com, as well as a yahoo e- Parents Enabling Parents Coalition and as such trustees they hold
group7 at no2pep2010@yahoogroups.com. These websites are the legal title to the website www.pepcoalition.com which is of
easily accessible to the public or by anyone logged on to the general circulation, and publication to the public conspiring,
internet. confederating and mutually helping with one another together with
John Does, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously
Gimenez further alleged that upon accessing the above-stated and publicly and maliciously with intention of attacking the
websites in Makati on various dates from August 25 to October 2, honesty, virtue, honor and integrity, character and reputation of
2005, he "was appalled to read numerous articles [numbering 13], complainant Malayan Insurance Co. Inc., Yuchengco Family
maliciously and recklessly caused to be published by [the accused] particularly Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco and Helen Dee and for
containing highly derogatory statements and false accusations, further purpose exposing the complainant to public hatred and
relentlessly attacking the Yuchengco Family, YGC, and particularly, contempt published an article imputing a vice or defect to the
Malayan."8 He cited an article which was posted/published complainant and caused to be composed, posted and published in
on www.pepcoalition.com on August 25, 2005 which stated: the said website www.pepcoalition.com and injurious and
defamatory article as follows:
Talagang naisahan na naman tayo ng mga Yuchengcos. Nangyari
na ang mga kinatatakutan kong pagbagsak ng negotiation because Talagang naisahan na naman tayo ng mga Yuchengcos. Nangyari
it was done prematurely since we had not file any criminal aspect na ang mga kinatatakutan kong pagbagsak ng negotiation. x x x x
of our case. What is worse is that Yuchengcos benefited much from xxxxx
the nego. x x x . That is the fact na talagang hindi dapat
pagtiwalaan ang mga Yuchengcos. For sure may tactics pa silang nakabasta sa atin. Let us be ready
for it because they had successfully lull us and the next time they
LETS MOVE TO THE BATTLEFIELD. FILE THE CRIMINAL CASES IN will try to kill us na. x x x
COURT, BSP AND AMLC AND WHEREVER. Pumunta tayong muli sa
senado, congreso, RCBC Plaza, and other venues to air our A copy of the full text of the foregoing article as published/posted
grievances and call for boycott ng YGC. Let us start within in www.pepcoalition.com is attached as Annex "F" of the complaint.
ourselves. Alisin natin ang mga investments and deposits natin sa
lahat ng YGC and I mean lahat and again convince friends to do the That the keyword and password to be used in order to post and
same. Yung mga nanonood lang noon ay dapat makisali na talaga publish the above defamatory article are known to the accused as
ngayon specially those who joined only after knowing that there trustees holding legal title to the above-cited website and that the
was a negotiation for amicable settlements.
28
accused are the ones responsible for the posting and publication of verbatim that the libelous publication was "printed and first
the defamatory articles that the article in question was posted and published" in the appropriate venue. And it pointed out that
published with the object of the discrediting and ridiculing the Malayan has an office in Makati of which Helen is a resident.
complainant before the public. Moreover, the prosecution alleged that even assuming that the
Information was deficient, it merely needed a formal amendment.
CONTRARY TO LAW.12
Petitioners opposed the prosecutions motion for reconsideration,
Several of the accused appealed the Makati City Prosecutors contending, inter alia, that since venue is jurisdictional in criminal
Resolution by a petition for review to the Secretary of Justice who, cases, any defect in an information for libel pertaining to
by Resolution of June 20, 2007,13 reversed the finding of probable jurisdiction is not a mere matter of form that may be cured by
cause and accordingly directed the withdrawal of the Informations amendment.22
for libel filed in court. The Justice Secretary opined that the crime of
"internet libel" was non-existent, hence, the accused could not be By Order of March 8, 2007,23 the public respondent granted the
charged with libel under Article 353 of the RPC.14 prosecutions motion for reconsideration and accordingly ordered
the public prosecutor to "amend the Information to cure the defect
Petitioners, as co-accused,15 thereupon filed on June 6, 2006, before of want of venue."
the public respondent, a Motion to Quash16 the Information in
Criminal Case No. 06-876 on the grounds that it failed to vest The prosecution thereupon moved to admit the Amended
jurisdiction on the Makati RTC; the acts complained of in the Information dated March 20, 2007,24 the accusatory portion of
Information are not punishable by law since internet libel is not which reads:
covered by Article 353 of the RPC; and the Information is fatally
defective for failure to designate the offense charged and the acts That on or about the 25th day of August 2005 in Makati City, Metro
or omissions complained of as constituting the offense of libel. Manila, Philippines, a place within the jurisdiction of the Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, being then the trustees of
Citing Macasaet v. People,17 petitioners maintained that the Parents Enabling Parents Coalition and as such trustees they hold
Information failed to allege a particular place within the trial courts the legal title to the website www.pepcoalition.com which is of
jurisdiction where the subject article was printed and first published general circulation, and publication to the public conspiring,
or that the offended parties resided in Makati at the time the confederating together with John Does, whose true names,
alleged defamatory material was printed and first published. identities and present whereabouts are still unknown and all of
them mutually helping and aidingone another, did then and there
By Order of October 3, 2006,18 the public respondent, albeit finding willfully, unlawfully and feloniously and publicly and maliciously
that probable cause existed, quashed the Information, citing with intention of attacking the honesty, virtue, honor and integrity,
Agustin v. Pamintuan.19 It found that the Information lacked any character and reputation of complainant Malayan Insurance Co.
allegations that the offended parties were actually residing in Inc., Yuchengco Family particularly Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco
Makati at the time of the commission of the offense as in fact they and Helen Dee and for further purpose exposing the complainant to
listed their address in the complaint-affidavit at Yuchengco Tower public hatred and contempt published an article imputing a vice or
in Binondo, Manila; or that the alleged libelous article was printed defect to the complainant and caused to be composed, posted and
and first published in Makati. published in the said websitewww.pepcoalition.com, a website
accessible in Makati City, an injurious and defamatory article, which
The prosecution moved to reconsider the quashal of the was first published and accessed by the private complainant in
Information,20 insisting that the Information sufficiently conferred Makati City, as follows:
jurisdiction on the public respondent. It cited Banal III v.
Panganiban21 which held that the Information need not allege x x x x (emphasis and underscoring in the original; italics supplied)

29
Petitioners moved to quash the Amended Information25 which, they Thus, a strict application of the rule is unnecessary when cases
alleged, still failed to vest jurisdiction upon the public respondent brought before the appellate courts do not involve factual but
because it failed to allege that the libelous articles were "printed purely legal questions.32
and first published" by the accused in Makati; and the prosecution
erroneously laid the venue of the case in the place where the In the present case, the substantive issue calls for the Courts
offended party accessed the internet-published article. exercise of its discretionary authority, by way of exception, in order
to abbreviate the review process as petitioners raise a pure
By the assailed Order of April 22, 2008, the public respondent, question of law involving jurisdiction in criminal complaints for libel
applying Banal III, found the Amended Information to be sufficient under Article 360 of the RPC whether the Amended Information is
in form. sufficient to sustain a charge for written defamation in light of the
requirements under Article 360 of the RPC, as amended by
Petitioners motion for reconsideration26 having been denied by the Republic Act (RA) No. 4363, reading:
public respondent by Joint Resolution of August 12, 2008, they filed
the present petition for Certiorari and Prohibition faulting the public Art. 360. Persons responsible.Any person who shall publish, exhibit
respondent for: or cause the publication or exhibition of any defamation in writing
or by similar means, shall be responsible for the same.
1. NOT FINDING THAT THE ACTS ALLEGED IN THE
INFORMATION ARE NOT PUNISHABLE BY LAW; The author or editor of a book or pamphlet, or the editor or
business manager of a daily newspaper, magazine or serial
2. ADMITTING AN AMENDED INFORMATION WHOSE publication, shall be responsible for the defamations contained
JURISDICTIONAL ALLEGATIONS CONTINUES TO BE therein to the same extent as if he were the author thereof.
DEFICIENT; and
The criminal action and civil action for damages in cases of written
3. NOT RULING THAT AN AMENDMENT IN THE INFORMATION defamations, as provided for in this chapter shall be filed
FOR THE PURPOSE OF CURING JURISDICTIONAL DEFECTS IS simultaneously or separately with the Court of First Instance of
ILLEGAL.27 the province or city where the libelous article is printed and first
published or where any of the offended parties actually resides at
With the filing of Gimenezs Comment28 to the petition, the issues the time of the commission of the offense: Provided, however, That
are: (1) whether petitioners violated the rule on hierarchy of courts where one of the offended parties is a public officer whose office is
to thus render the petition dismissible; and (2) whether grave in the City of Manila at the time of the commission of the offense,
abuse of discretion attended the public respondents admission of the action shall be filed in the Court of First Instance of the City of
the Amended Information. Manila or of the city or province where the libelous article is printed
and first published, and in case such public officer does not hold
office in the City of Manila, the action shall be filed in the Court of
The established policy of strict observance of the judicial hierarchy First Instance of the province or city where he held office at the
of courts,29 as a rule, requires that recourse must first be made to time of the commission of the offense or where the libelous article
the lower-ranked court exercising concurrent jurisdiction with a is printed and first published and in case one of the offended
higher court.30 A regard for judicial hierarchy clearly indicates that parties is a private individual, the action shall be filed in the Court
petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level of First Instance of the province or city where he actually resides at
courts should be filed in the RTC and those against the latter the time of the commission of the offense or where the libelous
should be filed in the Court of Appeals.31 The rule is not iron-clad, matter is printed and first published x x x. (emphasis and
however, as it admits of certain exceptions. underscoring supplied)

30
Venue is jurisdictional in criminal actions such that the place where Agbayani supplies a comprehensive restatement of the rules of
the crime was committed determines not only the venue of the venue in actions for criminal libel, following the amendment by
action but constitutes an essential element of jurisdiction.33 This Rep. Act No. 4363 of the Revised Penal Code:
principle acquires even greater import in libel cases, given that
Article 360, as amended, specifically provides for the possible "Article 360 in its original form provided that the venue of the
venues for the institution of the criminal and civil aspects of such criminal and civil actions for written defamations is the province
cases. wherein the libel was published, displayed or exhibited, regardless
of the place where the same was written, printed or composed.
In Macasaet,34 the Court reiterated its earlier pronouncements in Article 360 originally did not specify the public officers and the
Agbayani v. Sayo35 which laid out the rules on venue in libel cases, courts that may conduct the preliminary investigation of complaints
viz: for libel.

For the guidance, therefore, of both the bench and the bar, this Before article 360 was amended, the rule was that a criminal action
Court finds it appropriate to reiterate our earlier pronouncement in for libel may be instituted in any jurisdiction where the libelous
the case of Agbayani, to wit: article was published or circulated, irrespective of where it was
written or printed (People v. Borja, 43 Phil. 618). Under that rule,
In order to obviate controversies as to the venue of the criminal the criminal action is transitory and the injured party has a choice
action for written defamation, the complaint or information should of venue.
contain allegations as to whether, at the time the offense was
committed, the offended party was a public officer or a private Experience had shown that under that old rule the offended party
individual and where he was actually residing at that could harass the accused in a libel case by laying the venue of the
time. Whenever possible, the place where the written defamation criminal action in a remote or distant place.
was printed and first published should likewise be alleged. That
allegation would be a sine qua non if the circumstance as to where Thus, in connection with an article published in the Daily Mirror and
the libel was printed and first published is used as the basis of the the Philippine Free Press, Pio Pedrosa, Manuel V. Villareal and
venue of the action. (emphasis and underscoring supplied) Joaquin Roces were charged with libel in the justice of the peace
court of San Fabian, Pangasinan (Amansec v. De Guzman, 93 Phil.
It becomes clear that the venue of libel cases where the 933).
complainant is a private individual is limited to only either of two
places, namely: 1) where the complainant actually resides at the To forestall such harassment, Republic Act No. 4363 was enacted.
time of the commission of the offense; or 2) where the alleged It lays down specific rules as to the venue of the criminal action so
defamatory article was printed and first published. The Amended as to prevent the offended party in written defamation cases from
Information in the present case opted to lay the venue by availing inconveniencing the accused by means of out-of-town libel suits,
of the second. Thus, it stated that the offending article "was first meaning complaints filed in remote municipal courts (Explanatory
published and accessed by the private complainant in Makati City." Note for the bill which became Republic Act No. 4363,
In other words, it considered the phrase to be equivalent to the Congressional Record of May 20, 1965, pp. 424-5; Time, Inc. v.
requisite allegation of printing and first publication. Reyes, L-28882, May 31, 1971, 39 SCRA 303, 311).

The insufficiency of the allegations in the Amended Information to x x x x (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
vest jurisdiction in Makati becomes pronounced upon an
examination of the rationale for the amendment to Article 360 by Clearly, the evil sought to be prevented by the amendment to
RA No. 4363. Chavez v. Court of Appeals36 explained the nature of Article 360 was the indiscriminate or arbitrary laying of the venue
these changes: in libel cases in distant, isolated or far-flung areas, meant to

31
accomplish nothing more than harass or intimidate an accused. The in Agbayani, such as Soriano, Agustin, and Macasaet. There is no
disparity or unevenness of the situation becomes even more acute convincing reason to resort to such a radical action. These
where the offended party is a person of sufficient means or limitations imposed on libel actions filed by private persons are
possesses influence, and is motivated by spite or the need for hardly onerous, especially as they still allow such persons to file the
revenge. civil or criminal complaint in their respective places of residence, in
which situation there is no need to embark on a quest to determine
If the circumstances as to where the libel was printed and first with precision where the libelous matter was printed and first
published are used by the offended party as basis for the venue in published.
the criminal action, the Information must allege with
particularity where the defamatory article was printed (Emphasis and underscoring supplied.)
and first published, as evidenced or supported by, for instance, the
address of their editorial or business offices in the case of IN FINE, the public respondent committed grave abuse of discretion
newspapers, magazines or serial publications. This pre-condition in denying petitioners motion to quash the Amended Information.
becomes necessary in order to forestall any inclination to harass.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Order of April
The same measure cannot be reasonably expected when it pertains 22, 2008 and the Joint Resolution of August 12, 2008 are hereby
to defamatory material appearing on a website on the internet as SET ASIDE. The Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Br. 149 is
there would be no way of determining the situs of its printing and hereby DIRECTED TO QUASH the Amended Information in Criminal
first publication. To credit Gimenezs premise of equating his first Case No. 06-876 and DISMISS the case.
access to the defamatory article on petitioners website in Makati
with "printing and first publication" would spawn the very ills that SO ORDERED.
the amendment to Article 360 of the RPC sought to discourage and
prevent. It hardly requires much imagination to see the chaos that
would ensue in situations where the websites author or writer, a
blogger or anyone who posts messages therein could be sued for
libel anywhere in the Philippines that the private complainant may
have allegedly accessed the offending website.

For the Court to hold that the Amended Information sufficiently


vested jurisdiction in the courts of Makati simply because the
defamatory article was accessed therein would open the floodgates
to the libel suit being filed in all other locations where the
pepcoalition website is likewise accessed or capable of being TEODORO C. BORLONGAN, JR., CORAZON M. BEJASA, ARTURO E.
accessed. MANUEL, JR., ERIC L. LEE, P. SIERVO H. DIZON, BENJAMIN DE LEON,
DELFIN C. GONZALES, JR., and BEN YU LIM, JR.,
Respecting the contention that the venue requirements imposed by
Article 360, as amended, are unduly oppressive, the Courts vs.
pronouncements in Chavez37 are instructive:
MAGDALENO M. PEÑA and HON. MANUEL Q. LIMSIACO, JR., as Judge
For us to grant the present petition, it would be necessary to Designate of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Bago City
abandon the Agbayani rule providing that a private person must file
the complaint for libel either in the place of printing and first G.R. No. 14359
publication, or at the complainants place of residence. We would
also have to abandon the subsequent cases that reiterate this rule
32
May 5, 2010 In view of the introduction of the above-mentioned documents,
Atty. Peña filed his Complaint-Affidavit9 with the Office of the City
DECISION Prosecutor, Bago City.10 He claimed that said documents were
falsified because the alleged signatories did not actually affix their
PEREZ, J.: signatures, and the signatories were neither stockholders nor
officers and employees of ISCI.11 Worse, petitioners introduced said
documents as evidence before the RTC knowing that they were
The pivotal issue in this case is whether or not the Court of falsified.
Appeals, in its Decision1 dated 20 June 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No.
49666, is correct when it dismissed the petition for certiorari filed
by petitioners Teodoro C. Borlongan, Jr., Corazon M. Bejasa, Arturo In a Resolution12 dated 24 September 1998, the City Prosecutor
E. Manuel, Jr., Benjamin de Leon, P. Siervo H. Dizon, Delfin C. found probable cause for the indictment of petitioners for four (4)
Gonzales, Jr., Eric L. Lee and Ben Yu Lim, Jr., and ruled that the counts of the crime of Introducing Falsified Documents, penalized
Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Bago City, did not gravely by the second paragraph of Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code.
abuse its discretion in denying the motion for reinvestigation and The City Prosecutor concluded that the documents were falsified
recall of the warrants of arrest in Criminal Case Nos. 6683, 6684, because the alleged signatories untruthfully stated that ISCI was
6685, and 6686. the principal of the respondent; that petitioners knew that the
documents were falsified considering that the signatories were
mere dummies; and that the documents formed part of the record
The factual antecedents of the case are as follows: of Civil Case No. 754 where they were used by petitioners as
evidence in support of their motion to dismiss, and then adopted in
Respondent Atty. Magdaleno M. Peña (Atty. Peña) instituted a civil their answer and in their Pre-Trial Brief.13 Subsequently, the
case for recovery of agents compensation and expenses, damages, corresponding Informations14 were filed with the MTCC, Bago City.
and attorneys fees2 against Urban Bank and herein petitioners, The cases were docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 6683, 6684, 6685,
before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Negros Occidental, Bago and 6686. Thereafter, Judge Primitivo Blanca issued the
City. The case was raffled to Branch 62 and was docketed as Civil warrants15 for the arrest of the petitioners.
Case No. 754. Atty. Peña anchored his claim for compensation on
the Contract of Agency3 allegedly entered into with the petitioners, On 1 October 1998, petitioners filed an Omnibus Motion to Quash,
wherein the former undertook to perform such acts necessary to Recall Warrants of Arrest and/or For Reinvestigation.16 Petitioners
prevent any intruder and squatter from unlawfully occupying Urban insisted that they were denied due process because of the non-
Banks property located along Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City. observance of the proper procedure on preliminary investigation
Petitioners filed a Motion to Dismiss4 arguing that they never prescribed in the Rules of Court. Specifically, they claimed that
appointed the respondent as agent or counsel. Attached to the they were not afforded the right to submit their counter-affidavit.
motion were the following documents: 1) a Letter5 dated 19 Then they argued that since no such counter-affidavit and
December 1994 signed by Herman Ponce and Julie Abad on behalf supporting documents were submitted by the petitioners, the trial
of Isabela Sugar Company, Inc. (ISCI), the original owner of the judge merely relied on the complaint-affidavit and attachments of
subject property; 2) an unsigned Letter6 dated 7 December 1994 the respondent in issuing the warrants of arrest, also in
addressed to Corazon Bejasa from Marilyn G. Ong; 3) a contravention with the Rules of Court. Petitioners further prayed
Letter7 dated 9 December 1994 addressed to Teodoro Borlongan, that the information be quashed for lack of probable cause.
Jr. and signed by Marilyn G. Ong; and 4) a Memorandum8 dated 20 Moreover, one of the accused, i.e., Ben Lim, Jr., is not even a
November 1994 from Enrique Montilla III. Said documents were director of Urban Bank, contrary to what complainant stated.
presented in an attempt to show that the respondent was Lastly, petitioners posited that the criminal cases should have been
appointed as agent by ISCI and not by Urban Bank or by the suspended on the ground that the issue being threshed out in the
petitioners. civil case is a prejudicial question.

33
In an Order17 dated 13 November 1998, the MTCC denied the Can a complaint-affidavit containing matters which are not within
omnibus motion primarily on the ground that preliminary the personal knowledge of the complainant be sufficient basis for
investigation was not available in the instant case which fell within the finding of probable cause?
the jurisdiction of the first-level court. The court, likewise, upheld
the validity of the warrant of arrest, saying that it was issued in C.
accordance with the Rules of Court. Besides, the court added,
petitioners could no longer question the validity of the warrant Where there is offense charged in a criminal complaint is not
since they already posted bail. The court also believed that the cognizable by the Regional Trial Court and not covered by the Rule
issue involved in the civil case was not a prejudicial question, and, on Summary Procedure, and the record of the preliminary
thus, denied the prayer for suspension of the criminal proceedings. investigation does not show the existence of probable cause,
Lastly, the court was convinced that the Informations contained all should not the judge refuse to issue a warrant of arrest and dismiss
the facts necessary to constitute an offense. the criminal case, or at the very least, require the accused to
submit his counter-affidavit in order to aid the judge in determining
Petitioners immediately instituted a special civil action for Certiorari the existence of probable cause?
and Prohibition with Prayer for Writ of Preliminary Injunction and
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) before the Court of Appeals, D.
ascribing grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of
jurisdiction on the part of the MTCC in issuing and not recalling the
warrants of arrest, reiterating the arguments in their omnibus Can a criminal prosecution be restrained?
motion.18 They, likewise, questioned the courts conclusion that by
posting bail, petitioners already waived their right to assail the E.
validity of the warrants of arrest.
Can this Honorable Court itself determine the existence of probable
On 20 June 2000, the Court of Appeals dismissed the cause?20
petition.19 Thus, petitioners filed the instant petition for review on
certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, raising the following On the other hand, respondent contends that the issues raised by
issues: the petitioners had already become moot and academic when the
latter posted bail and were already arraigned.
A.
On 2 August 2000, this Court issued a TRO21 enjoining the judge of
Where the offense charged in a criminal complaint is not cognizable the MTCC from proceeding in any manner with Criminal Case Nos.
by the Regional Trial Court and not covered by the Rule on 6683 to 6686, effective during the entire period that the case is
Summary Procedure, is the finding of probable cause required for pending before, or until further orders of, this Court.
the filing of an Information in court?
We will first discuss the issue of mootness.
If the allegations in the complaint-affidavit do not establish
probable cause, should not the investigating prosecutor dismiss the The issues raised by the petitioners have not been mooted by the
complaint, or at the very least, require the respondent to submit fact that they had posted bail and were already arraigned.
his counter-affidavit?
It appears from the records that upon the issuance of the warrant
B. of arrest, petitioners immediately posted bail as they wanted to
avoid embarrassment, being then the officers of Urban Bank. On
the scheduled date for the arraignment, despite the petitioners

34
refusal to enter a plea, the court a quo entered a plea of "Not the particular right that no other explanation of his conduct is
Guilty" for them. possible. x x x.

The erstwhile ruling of this Court was that posting of bail Herein petitioners filed the Omnibus Motion to Quash, Recall
constitutes a waiver of any irregularity in the issuance of a warrant Warrants of Arrest and/or For Reinvestigation on the same day that
of arrest, that has already been superseded by Section 26, Rule they posted bail. Their bail bonds likewise expressly contained a
114 of the Revised Rule of Criminal Procedure. The principle that stipulation that they were not waiving their right to question the
the accused is precluded from questioning the legality of the arrest validity of their arrest.24 On the date of their arraignment,
after arraignment is true only if he voluntarily enters his plea and petitioners refused to enter their plea due to the fact that the issue
participates during trial, without previously invoking his objections on the legality of their arrest is still pending with the Court. Thus,
thereto.22 when the court a quo entered a plea of not guilty for them, there
was no valid waiver of their right to preclude them from raising the
As held in Okabe v. Hon. Gutierrez:23 same with the Court of Appeals or this Court. The posting of bail
bond was a matter of imperative necessity to avert their
It bears stressing that Section 26, Rule 114 of the Revised Rules on incarceration; it should not be deemed as a waiver of their right to
Criminal Procedure is a new one, intended to modify previous assail their arrest. The ruling to which we have returned in People
rulings of this Court that an application for bail or the admission to v. Red25 stated:
bail by the accused shall be considered as a waiver of his right to
assail the warrant issued for his arrest on the legalities or x x x The present defendants were arrested towards the end of
irregularities thereon. The new rule has reverted to the ruling of January, 1929, on the Island and Province of Marinduque by order
this Court in People v. Red. The new rule is curative in nature of the judge of the Court of First Instance of Lucena, Tayabas, at a
because precisely, it was designed to supply defects and curb evils time when there were no court sessions being held in Marinduque.
in procedural rules. Hence, the rules governing curative statutes In view of these circumstances and the number of the accused, it
are applicable. Curative statutes are by their essence retroactive in may properly be held that the furnishing of the bond was prompted
application. Besides, procedural rules as a general rule operate by the sheer necessity of not remaining in detention, and in no way
retroactively, even without express provisions to that effect, to implied their waiver of any right, such as the summary examination
cases pending at the time of their effectivity, in other words to of the case before their detention. That they had no intention of
actions yet undetermined at the time of their effectivity. Before the waiving this right is clear from their motion of January 23, 1929, the
appellate court rendered its decision on January 31, 2001, the same day on which they furnished a bond, and the fact that they
Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure was already in effect. It renewed this petition on February 23, 1929, praying for the stay of
behoved the appellate court to have applied the same in resolving their arrest for lack of the summary examination; the first motion
the petitioners petition for certiorari and her motion for partial being denied by the court on January 24, 1929 (G.R. No. 33708,
reconsideration. page 8), and the second remaining undecided, but with an order to
have it presented in Boac, Marinduque.
Moreover, considering the conduct of the petitioner after posting
her personal bail bond, it cannot be argued that she waived her Therefore, the defendants herein cannot be said to have waived
right to question the finding of probable cause and to assail the the right granted to them by section 13, General Order No. 58, as
warrant of arrest issued against her by the respondent judge. There amended by Act No. 3042.
must be clear and convincing proof that the petitioner had an
actual intention to relinquish her right to question the existence of The rest of the issues raised by the petitioners may be grouped into
probable cause. When the only proof of intention rests on what a two, which are: (1) the procedural aspect, i.e., whether the
party does, his act should be so manifestly consistent with, and prosecution and the court a quo properly observed the required
indicative of, an intent to voluntarily and unequivocally relinquish procedure in the instant case, and, (2) the substantive aspect,

35
which is whether there was probable cause to pursue the criminal (a) Where filed with the fiscal. If the complaint is filed
cases to trial. directly with the fiscal or state prosecutor, the procedure
outlined in Section 3(a) of this Rule shall be observed. The
The procedural aspect: fiscal shall take appropriate action based on the affidavits
and other supporting documents submitted by the
Petitioners contend that they were denied due process as they complainant. (underscoring supplied)
were unable to submit their counter-affidavits and were not
accorded the right to a preliminary investigation. Considering that The crime to which petitioners were charged was defined and
the complaint of Atty. Peña was filed in September 1998, the rule penalized under second paragraph of Article 172 in relation to
then applicable was the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure. Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code.

The provisions of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure relevant to Art. 172. Falsification by private individual and use of falsified
the issue are Sections 1, 3(a) and 9(a) of Rule 112, to wit: documents. The penalty of prision correccional in its medium and
maximum periods and a fine of not more than P5,000 pesos shall
Section 1. Definition. Preliminary investigation is an inquiry or be imposed upon:
proceeding for the purpose of determining whether there is
sufficient ground to engender a well founded belief that a crime 1. Any private individual who shall commit any of the
cognizable by the Regional Trial Court has been committed and falsifications enumerated in the next preceding article in
that the respondent is probably guilty thereof, and should be held any public or official document or letter of exchange or any
for trial. other kind of commercial document; and

Sec. 3. Procedure. Except as provided for in Section 7 hereof, no 2. Any person who, to the damage of a third party, or with
complaint or information for an offense cognizable by the Regional the intent to cause such damage, shall in any private
Trial Court shall be filed without a preliminary investigation having document commit any of the acts of falsification
been first conducted in the following manner: enumerated in the next preceding article.

(a) The complaint shall state the known address of the Any person who shall knowingly introduce in evidence in any
respondent and be accompanied by affidavits of the judicial proceeding or to the damage of another or who, with the
complainant and his witnesses as well as other supporting intent to cause such damage, shall use any of the false documents
documents, in such number of copies as there are embraced in the next preceding article or in any of the foregoing
respondents, plus two (2) copies for the official file. The said subdivisions of this article, shall be punished by the penalty next
affidavits shall be sworn to before any fiscal, state lower in degree.
prosecutor or government official authorized to administer
oath, or, in their absence or unavailability, a notary public, Prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods translates
who must certify that he personally examined the affiants to imprisonment of 2 years, 4 months and 1 day.26 The next lower
and that he is satisfied that they voluntarily executed and in degree to prision correccional is arresto mayor in its maximum
understood their affidavits. period to prision correccional in its minimum period which
translates to 4 months and 1 day to 2 years and 4 months27 of
Sec. 9. Cases not falling under the original jurisdiction of the imprisonment. Since the crime committed is not covered by the
Regional Trial Courts nor covered by the Rule on Summary Rules of Summary Procedure,28 the case falls within the exclusive
Procedure. jurisdiction of the first level courts but applying the ordinary rules.
In such instance, preliminary investigation as defined in Section 1,
Rule 112 of the 1985 Rules of Criminal Procedure is not applicable

36
since such section covers only crimes cognizable by the RTC. That a. Letter dated 19 December 1994 supposedly signed by a certain
which is stated in Section 9(a) is the applicable rule. Herman Ponce and Julie Abad for Isabela Sugar Company (ISC) (a
copy of which is attached as Annex "E"), which states:
Under this Rule, while probable cause should first be determined
before an information may be filed in court, the prosecutor is not December 19, 1994
mandated to require the respondent to submit his counter- Urban Bank
affidavits to oppose the complaint. In the determination of probable Urban Avenue, Makati
cause, the prosecutor may solely rely on the complaint, affidavits Metro Manila
and other supporting documents submitted by the complainant. If
he does not find probable cause, the prosecutor may dismiss Gentlemen:
outright the complaint or if he finds probable cause or sufficient
reason to proceed with the case, he shall issue a resolution and file This has reference to your property located among Roxas
the corresponding information. Boulevard, Pasay City which you purchased from Isabela Sugar
Company under a Deed of Absolute Sale executed on December 1,
The complaint of respondent, verbatim, is as follows: 1994.

COMPLAINT AFFIDAVIT In line with our warranties as the Seller of the said property and our
undertaking to deliver to you the full and actual possession and
I, MAGDALENO M. PEÑA, Filipino, of legal age, with address at Brgy. control of said property, free from tenants, occupants or squatters
Ubay, Pulupandan, Negros Occidental, after having been sworn in and from any obstruction or impediment to the free use and
accordance with law hereby depose and state: occupancy of the property and to prevent the former tenants or
occupants from entering or returning to the premises. In view of
1. I am the Plaintiff in Civil Case No. 754 pending with the Regional the transfer of ownership of the property to Urban Bank, it may be
Trial Court of Bago City entitled "Atty. Magdaleno M. Peña v. Urban necessary for Urban Bank to appoint Atty. Peña likewise as its
Bank, et al" Impleaded therein as defendants of the board of the authorized representative for purposes of holding/maintaining
bank, namely, Teodoro Borlongan, Delfin Gonzales, Jr., Benjamin De continued possession of the said property and to represent Urban
Leon, P. Siervo Dizon, Eric Lee, Ben Lim Jr., Corazon Bejasa and Bank in any court action that may be instituted for the
Arturo Manuel.(underlining ours) abovementioned purposes.

2. I filed the said case to collect my fees as agent of Urban Bank, It is understood that any attorneys fees, cost of litigation and any
Inc.(hereinafter referred to as the "bank") in ridding a certain parcel other charges or expenses that may be incurred relative to the
of land in Pasay City of squatters and intruders. A certified true exercise by Atty. Peña of his abovementioned duties shall be for
copy of the Complaint in the said case is hereto attached as Annex the account of Isabela Sugar Company and any loss or damage that
"A". may be incurred to third parties shall be answerable by Isabela
Sugar Company.
3. In the Motion to Dismiss dated 12 March 1996 (a certified true
copy of which is attached as Annex "B"), Answer dated 28 October Very truly yours,
1996 (Annex "C"), and Pre-Trial Brief dated 28 January 1997 (Annex
"D") filed by the bank and the respondent members of the board, Isabela Sugar Company
the said respondents used as evidence the following documents:
By:

37
HERMAN PONCE c. Memorandum dated 20 November 1994, copy of which is
JULIE ABAD attached as annex "H", which states:

b. Memorandum dated 7 December 1994 supposedly executed by a MEMORANDUM


certain Marilyn Ong on behalf of ISC, a copy of which is hereto
attached as annex "F", which states: To: Atty. Magadaleno M. Peña
Director
December 7, 1994
From: Enrique C. Montilla III
To: ATTY. CORA BEJASA President

From: MARILYN G. ONG Date: 20 November 1994

RE: ISABELA SUGAR CO., INC. You are hereby directed to recover and take possession of the
property of the corporation situated at Roxas Boulevard covered by
Atty. Magdaleno M. Peña, who has been assigned by Isabela Sugar TCT No. 5382 of the Registry of Deeds for Pasay City, immediately
Company inc. to take charge of inspecting the tenants would like to upon the expiration of the contract of lease over the said property
request an authority similar to this from the Bank to new owners. on 29 November 1994. For this purpose, you are authorized to
Can you please issue something like this today as he (unreadable) engage the services of security guards to protect the property
this. against intruders. You may also engage the services of a lawyer in
case there is a need to go to court to protect the said property of
b. Letter dated 9 December 1994 supposedly executed by the the corporation. In addition, you may take whatever steps or
same Marilyn Ong, a copy of which is hereto attached as Annex measures are necessary to ensure our continued possession of the
"G", which states: property.

December 9, 1994 ENRIQUE C. MONTILLA III


President
Atty. Ted Borlongan
URBAN BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES 4. The respondent member of the board of the bank used and
MAKATI, METRO MANILA introduced the aforestated documents as evidence in the civil case
knowing that the same are falsified. They used thae said
documents to justify their refusal to pay my agents fees, to my
Attention: Mr. Ted Borlongan damage and prejudice.

Dear Mr. Borlongan 5. The 19 December 1994 letter (Annex E") is a falsified document,
in that the person who supposedly executed the letter on behalf of
I would like to request for an authority from Urban Bank per ISC, a certain Herman Ponce and Julie Abad did not actually affix
attached immediately as the tenants are questioning authority of their signatures on the document. The execution of the letter was
the people who are helping us to take possession of the property. merely simulated by making it appear that Ponce and Abad
executed the letter on behalf of ISC when they did not in fact do so.
Marilyn Ong
6. No persons by the name of Herman Ponce and Julie Abad were
ever stockholders, officers, employees or representatives of ISC. In
38
the letter, Herman Ponce was represented to be the President of Resolution and Information by the City Prosecutor why Mr. Ben Lim,
ISC and Julie Abad, the Corporate Secretary. However, as of 19 Jr. was included. Moreover, as can be gleaned from the body of the
December 1994, the real President of plaintiff was Enrique Montilla, complaint and the specific averments therein, Mr. Ben Lim, Jr. was
III and Cristina Montilla was the Corporate Secretary. A copy of the never mentioned.
Minutes of the Regular Meeting of ISC for the year 1994, during
which Montilla, et al. Were elected is hereto attached as Annex "I". The City Prosecutor should have cautiously reviewed the complaint
On the otherhand, a list of the stockholders of ISC on or about the to determine whether there were inconsistencies which ought to
time of the transaction is attached as Annex "J". have been brought to the attention of the respondent or, on his
own, considered for due evaluation. It is a big mistake to bring a
7. The same holds true with respect to the Memorandum dated 7 man to trial for a crime he did not commit.
December 1994 and athe letter dated 9 December 1994 allegedly
written by a ceratin Marilyn Ong. Nobody by the said name was Prosecutors are endowed with ample powers in order that they may
ever a stockholder of ISC. properly fulfill their assigned role in the administration of justice. It
should be realized, however, that when a man is hailed to court on
8. Lastly, with respect to the supposed Memorandum issued by a criminal charge, it brings in its wake problems not only for the
Enrique Montilla, III his signature thereon was merely forged by accused but for his family as well. Therefore, it behooves a
respondents. Enrique Montilla III, did not affix his signature on any prosecutor to weigh the evidence carefully and to deliberate
such document. thereon to determine the existence of a prima facie case before
filing the information in court. Anything less would be a dereliction
9. I am executing this affidavit for the purpose of charging Teodoro of duty.29
C. Borlongan, Corazon M. Bejasa and Arturo E. Manuel, Delfin C.
Gonzales Jr., Benjamin L. De Leon, P. Siervo H. Dizon and Eric Lee, Atty. Peña, in his Second Manifestation30 dated 16 June 1999,
with the crime of use of falsified documents under Artilce 172, averred that petitioners, including Mr. Ben Lim, Jr., were already
paragraph 2, of the Revised Penal Code.(underlining ours) estopped from raising the fact that Mr. Ben Lim, Jr. was not a
member of the board of directors of Urban Bank, as the latter
10. I am likewise executing this affidavit for whatever legal purpose participated and appeared through counsel in Civil Case No. 754
it may serve. without raising any opposition. However, this does not detract from
the fact that the City Prosecutor, as previously discussed, did not
FURTHER AFFIANT SAYETH NAUGHT. carefully scrutinize the complaint of Atty. Peña, which did not
charge Mr. Ben Lim, Jr. of any crime.
Sgd. MAGDALENO M. PEÑA
What tainted the procedure further was that the Judge issued a
warrant for the arrest of the petitioners, including, Mr. Ben Lim, Jr.
It is evident that in the affidavit-complaint, specifically in paragraph despite the filing of the Omnibus Motion to Quash, Recall Warrants
1, respondent merely introduced and identified "the board of the of Arrest and/or For Reinvestigation raising among others the issue
bank, namely, Teodoro Borlongan, Jr., Delfin Gonzales, Jr., Benjamin that Mr. Ben Lim, Jr., was not even a member of the board of
De Leon, P. Siervo Dizon, Eric Lee, Ben Lim, Jr., Corazon Bejasa and directors. With the filing of the motion, the judge is put on alert that
Arturo Manuel, Sr." However, in the accusatory portion of the an innocent person may have been included in the complaint. In
complaint which is paragraph number 9, Mr. Ben Lim, Jr. was not the Order31 dated 13 November 1998, in denying the motion to
included among those charged with the crime of use of falsified quash, Judge Primitivo Blanca ruled that:
documents under Article 172, paragraph 2, of the Revised Penal
Code. The omission indicates that respondent did not intend to
criminally implicate Mr. Ben Lim, Jr., even as he was acknowledged Courts in resolving a motion to quash cannot consider facts
to be a member of the board. And there was no explanation in the contrary to those alleged in the information or which do not appear
on the face of the information because said motion is hypothethical
39
admission of the facts alleged in the information x x x. (citations of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and
omitted.) particularly describing x x x the persons x x x to be
seized."32 Interpreting the words "personal determination," we said
We cannot accept as mere oversight the mistake of respondent in Soliven v. Makasiar33 that it does not thereby mean that judges
judge since it was at the expense of liberty. This cannot be are obliged to conduct the personal examination of the
condoned. complainant and his witnesses themselves. To require thus would
be to unduly laden them with preliminary examinations and
In the issuance of a warrant of arrest, the mandate of the investigations of criminal complaints instead of concentrating on
Constitution is for the judge to personally determine the existence hearing and deciding cases filed before them. Rather, what is
of probable cause: emphasized merely is the exclusive and personal responsibility of
the issuing judge to satisfy himself as to the existence of probable
cause. To this end, he may: (a) personally evaluate the report and
Section 2, Article III of the Constitution provides: the supporting documents submitted by the prosecutor regarding
the existence of probable cause and, on the basis thereof, issue a
Section 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, warrant of arrest; or (b) if on the basis thereof he finds no probable
houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and cause, disregard the prosecutor's report and require the submission
seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, of supporting affidavits of witnesses to aid him in determining its
and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon existence. What he is never allowed to do is to follow blindly the
probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after prosecutor's bare certification as to the existence of probable
examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the cause. Much more is required by the constitutional provision.
witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to Judges have to go over the report, the affidavits, the transcript of
be searched and the persons or things to be seized. stenographic notes if any, and other documents supporting the
prosecutor's certification. Although the extent of the judge's
Corollary thereto, Section 9(b) of the 1985 Rules of Criminal personal examination depends on the circumstances of each case,
Procedure provides: to be sure, he cannot just rely on the bare certification alone but
must go beyond it. This is because the warrant of arrest issues not
Sec. 9. Cases not falling under the original jurisdiction of the on the strength of the certification standing alone but because of
Regional Trial Courts nor covered by the Rule on Summary the records which sustain it.34 He should even call for the
Procedure. complainant and the witnesses to answer the court's probing
questions when the circumstances warrant.35
(a) x x x.
An arrest without a probable cause is an unreasonable seizure of a
(b) Where filed directly with the Municipal Trial Court. If the person, and violates the privacy of persons which ought not to be
complaint or information is filed directly with the Municipal Trial intruded by the State.36
Court, the procedure provided for in Section 3(a) of this Rule shall
likewise be observed. If the judge finds no sufficient ground to hold Measured against the constitutional mandate and established
the respondent for trial, he shall dismiss the complaint or rulings, there was here a clear abdication of the judicial function
information. Otherwise, he shall issue a warrant of arrest after and a clear indication that the judge blindly followed the
personally examining in writing and under oath the complainant certification of a city prosecutor as to the existence of probable
and his witnesses in the form of searching questions and answers. cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest with respect to all of
the petitioners. The careless inclusion of Mr. Ben Lim, Jr., in the
Enshrined in our Constitution is the rule that "[n]o x x x warrant of warrant of arrest gives flesh to the bone of contention of petitioners
arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined that the instant case is a matter of persecution rather than
personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation prosecution.37 On this ground, this Court may enjoin the criminal

40
cases against petitioners. As a general rule, criminal prosecutions 2. That the false document is embraced in Article 171 or in
cannot be enjoined. However, there are recognized exceptions any subdivisions Nos. 1 or 2 of Article 172.
which, as summarized in Brocka v. Enrile,38 are:
3. That he introduced said document in evidence in any
a. To afford adequate protection to the constitutional rights judicial proceeding.49
of the accused;39
The falsity of the document and the defendants knowledge of its
b. When necessary for the orderly administration of justice falsity are essential elements of the offense. The Office of the City
or to avoid oppression or multiplicity of actions;40 Prosecutor filed the Informations against the petitioners on the
basis of the Complaint-Affidavit of respondent Atty. Peña, attached
c. When there is a prejudicial question which is sub judice;41 to which were the documents contained in the Motion to Dismiss
filed by the petitioners in Civil Case No. 754. Also included as
d. When the acts of the officer are without or in excess of attachments to the complaint were the Answers, Pre-Trial Brief, the
authority;42 alleged falsified documents, copy of the regular meetings of ISCI
during the election of the Board of Directors and the list of ISCI
Stockholders.50 Based on these documents and the complaint-
e. Where the prosecution is under an invalid law, ordinance affidavit of Atty. Peña, the City Prosecutor concluded that probable
or regulation;43 cause for the prosecution of the charges existed. On the strength of
the same documents, the trial court issued the warrants of arrest.
f. When double jeopardy is clearly apparent;44
This Court, however, cannot find these documents sufficient to
g. Where the court had no jurisdiction over the offense;45 support the existence of probable cause.

h. Where it is a case of persecution rather than Probable cause is such set of facts and circumstances as would
prosecution;46 lead a reasonably discreet and prudent man to believe that the
offense charged in the Information or any offense included therein
i. Where the charges are manifestly false and motivated by has been committed by the person sought to be arrested. In
the lust for vengeance;47 and determining probable cause, the average man weighs the facts and
circumstances without restoring to the calibrations of the rules of
j. When there is clearly no prima facie case against the evidence of which he has no technical knowledge. He relies on
accused and a motion to quash on that ground has been common sense. A finding of probable cause needs only to rest on
denied.48 evidence showing that, more likely than not, a crime has been
committed and that it was committed by the accused. Probable
The substantive aspect: cause demands more than suspicion; it requires less than evidence
that would justify conviction.51
Petitioners were charged with violation of par. 2, Article 172 of the
Revised Penal Code or Introduction of Falsified Document in a As enunciated in Baltazar v. People,52 the task of the presiding
judicial proceeding. The elements of the offense are as follows: judge when the Information is filed with the court is first and
foremost to determine the existence or non-existence of probable
cause for the arrest of the accused.
1. That the offender knew that a document was falsified by
another person.
The purpose of the mandate of the judge to first determine
probable cause for the arrest of the accused is to insulate from the

41
very start those falsely charged with crimes from the tribulations, stockholder of ISCI but he did not present the stock and transfer
expenses and anxiety of a public trial.53 book of ISCI. And, there was neither allegation nor proof that
Marilyn Ong was not connected to ISCI in any other way. Moreover,
We do not see how it can be concluded that the documents even if Marilyn Ong was not a stockholder of ISCI, such would not
mentioned by respondent in his complaint-affidavit were falsified. prove that the documents she signed were falsified.
In his complaint, Atty. Peña stated that Herman Ponce, Julie Abad
and Marilyn Ong, the alleged signatories of the questioned letters, The Court may not be compelled to pass upon the correctness of
did not actually affix their signatures therein; and that they were the exercise of the public prosecutors function without any showing
not actually officers or stockholders of ISCI.54 He further claimed of grave abuse of discretion or manifest error in his
that Enrique Montillas signature appearing in another findings.58 Considering, however, that the prosecution and the court
memorandum addressed to respondent was forged.55 These a quo committed manifest errors in their findings of probable
averments are mere assertions which are insufficient to warrant the cause, this Court therefore annuls their findings.
filing of the complaint or worse the issuance of warrants of arrest.
These averments cannot be considered as proceeding from the Our pronouncement in Jimenez v. Jimenez59 as reiterated in
personal knowledge of herein respondent who failed to, basically, Baltazar v. People is apropos:
allege that he was present at the time of the execution of the
documents. Neither was there any mention in the complaint- It is x x x imperative upon the fiscal or the judge as the case may
affidavit that herein respondent was familiar with the signatures of be, to relieve the accused from the pain of going through a trial
the mentioned signatories to be able to conclude that they were once it is ascertained that the evidence is insufficient to sustain a
forged. What Atty. Peña actually stated were but sweeping prima facie case or that no probable cause exists to form a
assertions that the signatories are mere dummies of ISCI and that sufficient belief as to the guilt of the accused. Although there is no
they are not in fact officers, stockholders or representatives of the general formula or fixed rule for the determination of probable
corporation. Again, there is no indication that the assertion was cause since the same must be decided in the light of the conditions
based on the personal knowledge of the affiant. obtaining in given situations and its existence depends to a large
degree upon the finding or opinion of the judge conducting the
The reason for the requirement that affidavits must be based on examination, such a finding should not disregard the facts before
personal knowledge is to guard against hearsay evidence. A the judge nor run counter to the clear dictates of reasons. The
witness, therefore, may not testify as what he merely learned from judge or fiscal, therefore, should not go on with the prosecution in
others either because he was told or read or heard the same. Such the hope that some credible evidence might later turn up during
testimony is considered hearsay and may not be received as proof trial for this would be a flagrant violation of a basic right which the
of the truth of what he has learned.56 Hearsay is not limited to oral courts are created to uphold. It bears repeating that the judiciary
testimony or statements; the general rule that excludes hearsay as lives up to its mission by visualizing and not denigrating
evidence applies to written, as well as oral statements.57 constitutional rights. So it has been before. It should continue to be
so.
The requirement of personal knowledge should have been strictly
applied considering that herein petitioners were not given the On the foregoing discussion, we find that the Court of Appeals
opportunity to rebut the complainants allegation through counter- erred in affirming the findings of the prosecutor as well as the court
affidavits. a quo as to the existence of probable cause. The criminal complaint
against the petitioners should be dismissed.
Quite noticeable is the fact that in the letter dated 19 December
1994 of Herman Ponce and Julie Abad, neither of the two made the WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The Decision of the
representation that they were the president or secretary of ISCI. It Court of Appeals dated 20 June 2000, in CA-G.R. SP No. 49666,
was only Atty. Peña who asserted that the two made such isREVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Temporary Restraining Order
representation. He alleged that Marilyn Ong was never a dated 2 August 2000 is hereby made permanent. Accordingly, the
42
Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Negros Occidental, Bago City, is
hereby DIRECTED to DISMISS Criminal Case Nos. 6683, 6684, 6685
and 6686.

SO ORDERED.

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,


vs
JOSELITO NOQUE y GOMEZ,
G.R. No. 175319
January 15, 2010

DECISION

DEL CASTILLO, J.:

The illicit trade and use of dangerous drugs destroys the moral
fiber of society. It has eroded and disrupted family life, increased the
transmission of sexually related diseases, resulted in permanent and
fatal damage to the physical and mental health, and wasted dreams,
opportunities and hopes for a better future. As an ardent sentinel of the
people’s rights and welfare, this Court shall not hesitate to dispense
justice on people who engage in such an activity. [1] The commitment to
this end is exemplified in this appeal.

The Charges

The appeal stems from two Informations filed before the


Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, which were subsequently docketed
as Criminal Case Nos. 01-189458 and 01-189459, and raffled to Branch
43
35 of said court. The Information in Criminal Case No. 01-189458 During his arraignment on July 23, 2001, appellant pleaded not
charging appellant Joselito Noque y Gomez with violation of Section 15, guilty to both charges. Pre-trial conference was conducted and upon its
Article III in relation to Section 21 (e), (f), (m), (o), Article 1 of Republic Act termination a joint trial ensued.
(RA) No. 6425, as amended by Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1683 and as
further amended by RA 7659 reads: Version of the Prosecution

That on or about January 30, 2001, in the City of


Manila, Philippines, the said accused, not having been At 9 o’clock in the evening of January 30, 2001, a confidential
authorized by law to sell, dispense, deliver, transport or
distribute any regulated drug, did then and there willfully, informant of
unlawfully and knowingly sell or offer for sale, dispense, Senior Police Officer 4 (SPO4) Norberto Murillo, went to Police Station No.
deliver, transport or distribute 2.779 (two point seven
seven nine grams) and 2.729 (two point seven two nine 4 of the Western Police District (WPD) to tip off on the drug trafficking
grams) of white crystalline substance known as ‘shabu’
activities of the appellant in Malate, Manila. SP04 Murillo immediately
containing methamphetamine hydrochloride, which is a
regulated drug. directed Police Officers (POs) Christian Balais (Balais) and Dionisio Borca

Contrary to law.[2] (Borca) to conduct surveillance in the area mentioned by the


informant. The surveillance confirmed appellant’s illegal operations

On the other hand, the Information in Criminal Case No. 01- being conducted at No. 630 San Andres Street,

189459 contains the following accusatory allegations for violation of Malate, Manila. Thereafter, SP04 Murillo formed and led a buy-bust

Section 16, Article III in relation to Section 2 (e-2) Article I of RA 6425 as team with POs Balais, Borca, Ramon Pablo, Roberto Godoy, Edgardo

amended by Batas Pambansa (BP) Bilang 179 and as further amended Book, Bernard Mino, Rodante Bollotano, and Melchor Barolo as

by RA 7659: members. PO1 Balais was designated as poseur-buyer and was


provided with 10 pieces of 100 peso bills as buy-bust money.
That on or about January 30, 2001, in the City of
Manila, Philippines, the said accused without being
authorized by law to possess or use any regulated drug, The buy-bust team, together with the informant, proceeded to
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and knowingly
have in his possession and under his custody and control the aforementioned address and upon arrival thereat, positioned
(six seven nine point two one five grams) 679.215 grams
themselves outside the appellant’s house. PO1 Balais and the informant
of white crystalline substance known as ‘shabu’
containing methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated thereafter called out the appellant, who welcomed the two and brought
drug, without the corresponding license or prescription
thereof. them to his bedroom. The informant asked the appellant if he
had P1,000.00 worth of methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu”
Contrary to law.[3]
then pointed to PO1 Balais as the actual buyer. When PO1 Balais

44
handed the marked money to the appellant, the latter brought out from The appellant gave a different version of the events that
under a table a “pranela” bag from which he took two plastic sachets transpired. He testified that he was in his house in the evening
containing white crystalline granules suspected to be shabu. The of January 23, 2001 when six policemen led by SPO4 Murillo entered and
informant slipped out of the house as the pre-arranged signal to the buy- arrested an unidentified occupant of the room next to his. The arresting
bust team that the sale had been consummated. team returned after 30 minutes and apprehended another
person. When they came back the third time, they took him with them
After seeing the informant leave, the team entered appellant’s to WPD Station No. 9 where his wallet, belt and shoes were taken. While
house. SPO4 Murillo frisked the appellant and recovered the buy-bust under detention, SPO4 Murillo ordered him to admit selling illegal
money. He also confiscated the “pranela” bag that contained a large substances but he refused. He was released on January 26, 2001 only to
quantity of crystalline granules suspected to be shabu. The two persons be rearrested at around 9 o’clock in the evening on January 30,
who were in a “pot session” with the appellant at the time of the raid 2001 when SPO4 Murillo and his team returned to his house and took
were likewise arrested and brought to the WPD Station No. 9 for him at gunpoint to the police station where he was detained for 24
investigation. hours. Police officers presented him later to Mayor Lito Atienza and
General Avelino Razon for a press conference.
The seized articles were taken to the police station and
submitted to the crime laboratory for examination to determine the Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
chemical composition of the crystalline substance. Police Inspector
(P/Insp.) and Forensic Chemical Officer Miladenia Tapan examined one In its Decision[4] dated February 28, 2003, the trial court
self-sealing transparent plastic bag with markings “JNG” containing convicted the appellant of both charges. It declared that the evidence
679.215 grams of white crystalline granules; and two heat-sealed adduced by the prosecution established with moral certainty his guilt for
transparent plastic sachets each containing white crystalline substance, committing the crimes in the manner narrated in the Informations. The
pre-marked “JNG-1” weighing 2.779 grams and “JNG-2”weighing 2.729 testimonies of police officers that they caught appellant in flagrante
grams. The qualitative examinations yielded positive results for delicto of selling and possessing a dangerous drug are clear and positive
ephedrine, a regulated drug. evidence that deserve more evidentiary weight than appellant’s
defenses of denial and frame-up, which are mere negative and self-
Version of the Defense serving assertions unsubstantiated by clear and convincing
evidence. The trial court also ruled that it cannot deviate from the
presumption of regularity in the performance of duty on the part of the

45
police officers since no ill motives were ascribed to them that would
entice them to testify falsely against the appellant. The dispositive portion of the Decision of the trial court reads:

WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered:


The trial court also held that while the Informations alleged
In Criminal Case No. 01-189458, pronouncing
methamphetamine hydrochloride as the drug seized from the appellant, accused JOSELITO NOQUE y GOMEZ guilty beyond
the drug actually confiscated which was ephedrine, is a precursor of reasonable doubt of selling a net quantity of 2.754 grams
of methamphetamine hydrochloride without authority of
methamphetamine, i.e., methamphetamine is an element of, and is law, penalized under Section 15 in relation to Section 20
of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, and sentencing
present in ephedrine. Ephedrine is the raw material while
the said accused to the indeterminate penalty ranging
methamphetamine is its refined product. Both drugs have the same from four (4) years and two (2) months of prision
correccional, as minimum, to six (6) years and one (1)
chemical formula except for the presence of a single atom of oxygen day of prision mayor, as maximum, and to pay the costs.
which when removed by means of chemical reaction changes ephedrine
In Criminal Case No. 01-189459, pronouncing the
to methamphetamine. Thus, the trial court ruled that the appellant can same accused JOSELITO NOQUE y GOMEZ guilty beyond
be convicted of the offenses charged, which are included in the crimes reasonable doubt of possession of a net quantity of
339.6075 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride
proved. The trial court further held that under Section 4, Rule 120 of the without license or prescription, penalized under Section
16 in relation to Section 20 of Republic Act No. 6425, as
Rules of Court, a variance in the offense charged in the complaint or
amended, and sentencing the said accused to the
information and that proved shall result in the conviction for the offense penalty of reclusion perpetua and to pay a fine of
P5,000,000.00, plus the costs.
charged which is included in the offense proved.
In the service of his sentences, the full time
during which the accused had been under preventive
In determining the quantity of methamphetamine hydrochloride imprisonment should be credited in his favor provided
that he had agreed voluntarily in writing to abide with the
upon which the proper imposable penalty on the appellant must be
same disciplinary rules imposed on convicted
based, the trial court gave credence to the testimony of prosecution prisoner. Otherwise, he should be credited with four-
fifths (4/5) only of the time he had been under preventive
witness, P/Insp. Tapan that a gram of ephedrine would produce ½ gram imprisonment.
of methamphetamine when refined.[5]
Exhibits “B” and “C” are ordered confiscated and
forfeited in favor of the government. Within ten (10)
Conformably, the methamphetamine contents of 5.508 days following the promulgation of this judgment, the
Branch Clerk of this Court, is ordered to turn over, under
grams[6] of ephedrine in Criminal Case No. 01-189458 would be 2.754 proper receipt, the regulated drug involved in these cases
to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for
grams. Moreover, the methamphetamine contents of 679.215 grams of
proper disposal.
ephedrine in Criminal Case No. 01-189459 would be 339.6075 grams.
SO ORDERED.[7]
46
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the February
Ruling of the Court of Appeals 28, 2003 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
Branch 35, is hereby AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION
that in Criminal Case No. 01-189458, accused-appellant is
hereby sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty of
The CA affirmed the trial court’s judgment. It held that the six (6) months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to two (2)
designations in the Informations are for violations of Sections 15 and 16 years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision
correccional, as maximum.
of RA 6425 that define and penalize the crimes of illegal sale and illegal
possession of regulated drugs. While the allegations in the Informations SO ORDERED.[9]

refer to unauthorized sale and possession of “shabu” or


methamphetamine hydrochloride, and not of ephedrine, the allegations Our Ruling

are however immediately followed by the qualifying phrase “which is a


regulated drug.” Stated differently, the CA held that the designations The appeal is bereft of merit.

and allegations in the informations are for the crimes of illegal sale and
The prosecution’s
illegal possession of regulated drugs. There being no dispute that evidence
satisfactorily
ephedrine is a regulated drug, pursuant to Board Resolution No. 2, Series
proved that
of 1988, issued by the Dangerous Drugs Board on March 17, 1988, the appellant is guilty
of illegal sale of a
CA ruled that the appellant is deemed to have been sufficiently informed dangerous drug.
of the nature of the crime with which he is accused. The fact that the
chemical structures of ephedrine and methamphetamine are the same
The prosecution successfully proved that appellant violated
except for the presence of an atom of oxygen in the former strengthens
Section 15, Article III of RA 6425. The prosecution’s evidence established
this ruling.[8]
the concurrence of the elements of an illegal sale of a dangerous drug, to
wit: (1) the identity of the buyer and seller, object, and consideration; and
However, the CA modified the penalty imposed by the trial court
(2) the delivery of the thing sold and the payment therefor.[10]
in Criminal Case No. 01-189458. It held that in the absence of any
mitigating or aggravating circumstances in this case, the penalty should
In the instant case, the police officers conducted a buy-bust
be imposed in its medium period, ranging from six months of arresto
operation after receiving confirmed surveillance reports that the
mayor, as minimum, to two years, four months and one day of prision
appellant was engaged in the illicit sale of dangerous drugs at No. 630
correccional, as maximum. Thus, the dispositive portion of the Decision
San Andres Street, Malate, Manila. PO1 Balais, the designated poseur-
of the CA reads:

47
buyer of the buy-bust team, personally identified the appellant as the seconstitutes prima facie evidence of knowledge or animus
person who volunteered to sell to him P1,000.00 worth of white possidendi sufficient to convict an accused absent a satisfactory
crystalline substance alleged to be shabu. The police officer received explanation of such possession – the onus probandi is shifted to the
this illegal merchandise after giving the appellant the marked money as accused, to explain the absence of knowledge or animus
payment. Undoubtedly, the appellant is guilty of selling a dangerous possidendi.”[12] With the burden of evidence shifted to the appellant, it
drug. was his duty to explain his innocence on the regulated drug seized from
his person. However, as already mentioned, he did not offer any excuse
The prosecution’s
evidence or explanation regarding his possession thereof.
satisfactorily
proved that There is no
appellant illegally evidence showing
possessed a that the police
dangerous drug. officers are
actuated by ill
motives.
The prosecution was also successful in proving that appellant
violated Section 16, Article III of RA 6425. It adduced evidence that
Likewise to be considered against the appellant is his failure to
established the presence of the elements of illegal possession of a
present evidence imputing evil motive on the part of the police officers
dangerous drug. It showed that (1) the appellant was in possession of an
who participated in the entrapment operation to testify falsely against
item or an object identified to be a prohibited or regulated drug, (2) such
him. “Where there is no evidence that the principal witness of the
possession is not authorized by law, and (3) the appellant was freely and
prosecution was actuated by ill or devious motive, the testimony is
consciously aware of being in possession of the drug.[11]
entitled to full faith and credit.”[13]

The police buy-bust team apprehended the appellant for the sale Appellant’s right to
be informed of the
of a white crystalline substance then proceeded to search the nature and cause
premises. They found a large quantity of the same substance inside the of the accusations
was not violated.
bag that contained the two sachets of the regulated drug sold to PO1
Balais. Appellant did not offer any explanation why he is in custody of
the said substance. Neither did the appellant present any authorization The only issue raised by the appellant in this petition is that his

to possess the same. “Mere possession of a regulated drug per conviction for the sale and possession of shabu, despite the fact that
what was established and proven was the sale and possession of
48
ephedrine, violated his constitutional right to be informed of the nature regulated drugs. The allegations in the Informations for the
and cause of the accusations against him since the charges in the unauthorized sale and possession of “shabu” or methamphetamine
Informations are for selling and possessing methamphetamine hydrochloride are immediately followed by the qualifying phrase “which
hydrochloride. is a regulated drug”. Thus, it is clear that the designations and
allegations in the Informations are for the crimes of illegal sale and illegal
We agree with the findings of the CA and the trial court, as well possession of regulated drugs. Ephedrine has been classified as a
as the testimony of the forensic chemical officer, that the drug known as regulated drug by the Dangerous Drugs Board in Board Resolution No. 2,
ephedrine has a central nervous stimulating effect similar to that of Series of 1988.
methamphetamine. In fact, ephedrine is an important precursor used in
the clandestine synthesis of methamphetamine, which in crystallized The CA correctly ruled that Sections 4 and 5, Rule 120 of the
form is methamphetamine hydrochloride. Rules of Court,[14] can be applied by analogy in convicting the appellant of
the offenses charged, which are included in the crimes proved. Under
Thus, on March 17, 1988, pursuant to Section 20(8) of RA 6425, these provisions, an offense charged is necessarily included in the
as amended, the Dangerous Drugs Board in its Board Regulation No. 2, offense proved when the essential ingredients of the former constitute or
S. 1988, classified as regulated drug all raw materials of ephedrine, as form part of those constituting the latter. At any rate, a minor variance
well as preparations containing the said drug. The chemical formula of between the information and the evidence does not alter the nature of
ephedrine is C10 H15 NO, whereas that of methamphetamine is C10 H15 the offense, nor does it determine or qualify the crime or penalty, so that
N. The only difference between ephedrine and methamphetamine is the even if a discrepancy exists, this cannot be pleaded as a ground for
presence of a single atom of oxygen in the former. The removal of the acquittal.[15] In other words, his right to be informed of the charges
oxygen in ephedrine will produce methamphetamine. With ephedrine against him has not been violated because where an accused is charged
containing fifty percent (50%) of methamphetamine hydrochloride if the with a specific crime, he is duly informed not only of such specific crime
oxygen content in the former is removed, the nearly 680 grams of but also of lesser crimes or offenses included therein.[16]
ephedrine seized from the appellant contains about 340 grams of
methamphetamine hydrochloride. The Penalties

Moreover, as correctly observed by CA, the offenses designated In Criminal Case No. 01-189458, appellant is found guilty of

in the Informations are for violations of Sections 15 and 16 of RA 6425, violation of Section 15, Article III of RA 6425, as amended. We

which define and penalize the crimes of illegal sale and possession of explained in People
v. Isnani[17] that:
49
Under Section 15, Article III in relation to the
second paragraph of Sections 20 and 21 of Article IV of In Criminal Case No. 01-189458, the quantity of the prohibited
Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by Section 17 of R.A.
No. 7659, the imposable penalty of illegal sale of a drug seized from appellant is 2.754 grams. Accordingly, the Court of
regulated drug (shabu), less than 200 grams, as in this Appeals correctly modified the penalty imposed by the trial court to six
case, is prision correccional to reclusion perpetua. Based
on the quantity of the regulated drug subject of the months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to two years, four months and
offense, the imposable penalty shall be as follows:
one day of prision correccional, as maximum.

QUANTITY IMPOSABLE
PENALTY Less than one (1) gram to 49.25 As regards Criminal Case No. 01-189459, Section 16, Article III of
grams prision
correccional RA 6425, as amended, provides for the penalty of reclusion perpetua to
death and a fine ranging from P500,000.00 to P10 million upon any
49.26 grams to 98.50
grams prision mayor person who shall possess or use any regulated drug without the

98.51 grams to 147.75 grams reclusion corresponding license or prescription. Section 20 of RA 6425, as
temporal amended, further provides that the penalty imposed for the offense
147.76 grams to 199 grams reclusion under Section 16, Article III shall be applied if the dangerous drug
perpetua
involved is 200 grams or more of shabu. In this case, the appellant was
The quantity of shabu involved is 0.060 found in illegal possession of 339.6075 grams of prohibited
grams. Pursuant to the second paragraph of Sections 20
and 21 of Article IV of R.A. No. 6425, as amended by drug. Therefore, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals correctly
Section 17 of R.A. No. 7659 (for unauthorized sale of less imposed the penalty of reclusion perpetua and a fine of P500,000.00 to
than 200 grams of shabu) and considering our ruling in
the above case, the imposable penalty is prision appellant.
correccional.

Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, and WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-
there being no aggravating or mitigating circumstance
H.C. No. 00684 is AFFIRMED.
that attended the commission of the crime, the
maximum period is prision correccional in its medium
period which has a duration of 2 years, 4 months and 1
day to 4 years and 2 months. The minimum period is SO ORDERED.
within the range of the penalty next lower in degree
which is arresto mayor, the duration of which is 1 month
and 1 day to 6 months. Hence, appellant should be
sentenced to 6 months of arresto mayor, as minimum, to
2 years, 4 months and 1 days of prision correctional in its
medium period, as maximum.

50
DECISION

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

This is a petition[1] for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of

the Rules of Court. The petition challenges the 10 February 2004

Decision[2] and 27 July 2004 Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals in

CA-G.R. SP No. 78004. The Court of Appeals set aside the 26 March

2003 Order[4] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Capital

Judicial Region, Branch 58, Makati City, in Criminal Case Nos. 02-

344-45.

The Facts

Midas Diversified Export Corporation (MDEC) obtained a

$1,400,000 loan from KBC Bank N.V. (KBC Bank). KBC Bank is a

Belgian corporation licensed to do business in the Philippines. On

12 August 1997, Samuel U. Lee (Lee), assistant treasurer and

director of MDEC, executed a promissory note in favor of KBC Bank

and a deed of assignment transferring all of MDEC’s rights over

Confirmed Purchase Order No. MTC-548 to KBC Bank. Confirmed

Purchase Order No. MTC-548 was allegedly dated 15 July 1997,

issued by Otto Versand, a company based in Germany, and

SAMUEL U. LEE and MAYBELLE LEE LIM covered a shipment of girl’s basic denim jeans amounting to
vs
KBC BANK N.V., $1,863,050.
G.R. No. 164673
January 15, 2010
51
MDEC obtained another loan, amounting to $65,000, from cause to indict respondents Samuel Lee and
KBC Bank. On 14 November 1997, Maybelle L. Lim (Lim), treasurer Maybelle Lee Lim.
and assistant secretary of MDEC, executed a promissory note in
favor of KBC Bank and a deed of assignment transferring all of It is an established fact that the confirmed
MDEC’s rights over Confirmed Purchase Order No. WC-128 to KBC purchase order nos. MTC-548 and WC-128 presented
Bank. Confirmed Purchase Order No. WC-128 was allegedly dated with the Bank by the Midas thru respondents Samuel
1 October 1997, issued by Otto Versand, and covered a shipment Lee and Maybelle Lee Lim were false and spurious,
of boy’s bermuda jeans amounting to $841,500. having been unequivocably repudiated and/or
disowned by Otto Versand, Germany, the foreign
On 23 December 1997, Lim renewed the 12 August 1997 buyer who allegedly issued the same, as evidenced
promissory note and issued a notice of renewal and drawdown by a telefax message sent to the Bank by Otto
certificate to KBC Bank. On 29 December 1997, Lim executed an Versand. Evidently, respondent Samuel Lee signed
amended deed of assignment transferring all of MDEC’s rights over the following documents, to wit: the “conforme”
Confirmed Purchase Order No. MTC-548 to KBC Bank. portion of the US$2.0 million short-term trade facility,
the promissory note and the corresponding deed of
assignment both dated August 12, 1997, covering
the confirmed purchase order no[.] MTC-548, while
respondent Maybelle Lee Lim signed in the
MDEC was considered in default in paying the $65,000 loan promissory note and the corresponding deed of
on 30 January 1998. Under a facility agreement between KBC Bank assignment both dated Nov. 14, 1997, the renewed
and MDEC, any default in payment of any obligation under the promissory note and the notice of renewal and
agreement would render MDEC in default with regard to the drawdown certificate both dated Dec. 23,
$65,000 loan — MDEC defaulted in paying two other obligations 1997. Respondents Samuel Lee and Maybelle Lee
under the agreement. MDEC also failed to pay the $1,400,000 loan Lim, thus cannot escape indictment, aside from
when it became due on 9 February 1998. signing those relevant loan documents, as they also
clearly helped one another in fraudulently
On 17 March 1998, KBC Bank sent a letter to Otto Versand representing to the Bank that indeed said confirmed
verifying the validity of Confirmed Purchase Order Nos. MTC-548 two (2) purchased [sic] orders does [sic] exists [sic]
and WC-128. On 19 March 1998, Otto Versand sent a facsimile and that Midas have [sic] their [sic] rights, titles and
message to KBC Bank stating that (1) it did not issue the purchase interests thereto. With their fraudulent
orders, (2) it did not order or receive the items covered by the representation, they were able to entice or induce
purchase orders, and (3) it would not pay MDEC any amount. the Bank to extend [to] them the loan of USD$1.4
million and USD$ 65,000 under the short-term trade
In a complaint-affidavit[5] dated 21 April 1998, Liza M. facility previously granted to them.[7]
Pajarillo, manager of the corporate division of KBC Bank, charged
Lee and Lim of estafa. In his Resolution[6] dated 27 November
2001, State Prosecutor Josefino A. Subia (State Prosecutor Subia)
Accordingly, two informations for estafa against Lee and Lim
found the existence of probable cause and recommended that two
counts of estafa be filed against Lee and Lim. State Prosecutor were filed with the RTC. After finding probable cause, Judge
Subia stated that:
Winlove M. Dumayas (Judge Dumayas) of the RTC issued warrants

After a careful evaluation of the evidence of arrest against Lee and Lim.
presented by the Bank, as well as of the
respondents, we find the existence of a probable
52
Lee and Lim filed a petition[8] for review dated 26 April 2002 not have personal knowledge of the fact that the
with the Department of Justice. Lee and Lim challenged State subject purchase orders were in fact fake, her
Prosecutor Subia’s 27 November 2001 Resolution and 17 April 2002 testimony cannot be the basis for finding probable
Order denying their motion for reconsideration. They claimed that: cause against respondents. Ms. Pajarillo can testify
only to those facts that she knew of her personal
knowledge. Admittedly, she derived knowledge of
I. THE RESOLUTIONS OF 27 NOVEMBER 2001 the supposed spurious character of the purchase
AND 17 APRIL 2002 MERELY RELIED ON orders from a mere fax copy of a message that [KBC
HEARSAY EVIDENCE WHICH CANNOT BE THE Bank] received from a certain representative of Otto
BASIS FOR A FINDING OF A PROBABLE Versand in Germany, someone who she did not even
CAUSE. know personally. Unfortunately, this fax copy is
hearsay evidence and therefore, inadmissible to
II. THE ASSAILED RESOLUTIONS WERE ISSUED prove the truth of what it contains (Pastor vs.
BASED ONLY ON THE UNCORROBORATED Gaspar, 2 Phil 592).[11] (Emphasis supplied)
ALLEGATIONS OF PAJARILLO THAT LEE AND
LIM MADE FRAUDULENT REPRESENTATIONS
TO [KBC BANK].
KBC Bank filed a motion[12] for reconsideration dated 2 August
III. THE ASSAILED RESOLUTIONS ERRED IN
2002 with the Department of Justice.
HOLDING LEE AND LIM TO BE CRIMINALLY
LIABLE DESPITE THE TWO LOANS CREATING
Lee and Lim had not been arraigned. In a motion[13] dated 18
MERELY CIVIL LIABILITY ON THE PART OF
October 2002 and filed with the RTC, Assistant City Prosecutor Nora
MIDAS.[9]
C. Sibucao (Assistant City Prosecutor Sibucao) prayed for the
withdrawal of the informations filed against Lee and Lim. Assistant
City Prosecutor Sibucao stated that:

In his Resolution[10] dated 12 July 2002, Secretary Hernando B.


The Prosecution, through the undersigned Trial
Perez (Secretary Perez) directed the withdrawal of the informations Prosecutor, unto the Honorable Court, most
respectfully moves and prays for the withdrawal of
filed against Lee and Lim. Secretary Perez held that the facsimile Information filed in the above-entitled cases in view
of the resolution of the Department of Justice
message constituted hearsay evidence:
promulgated on July 12, 2002 reversing the
resolution of the City Prosecutor of Makati City.[14]
The twin charges of estafa are primarily
The RTC’s Ruling
anchored on respondents’ alleged fraudulent
representations to [KBC Bank] that the two purchase
orders were fake or sham. To prove this point, Ms. In his one-page Order[15] dated 26 March 2003, Judge
Pajarillo of [KBC Bank] claims that she received a fax Dumayas granted Assistant City Prosecutor Sibucao’s motion to
message from a representative of Otto Versand, withdraw the informations against Lee and Lim. Judge Dumayas
stating that the latter company did not issue the held that:
purchase orders mentioned. There was no sworn
statement from a responsible officer of Otto Versand
presented to attest to the allegation that the subject This Court, after an in-depth scrutiny of the
purchase orders were fake. Since Ms. Pajarillo did arguments raised by the prosecution and private
53
complainant, finds the contentions of the prosecution
to be sufficient and meritorious. Secretary Simeon A. Datumanong denied KBC Bank’s 2 August

2002 motion for reconsideration.


Accordingly, the Motion to Withdraw Information filed by the
Prosecution is hereby granted and the two (2) informations for the
crime of Estafa penalized under par. 2 (a) of the Revised Penal
Code are hereby withdrawn from the docket of this court.[16] The Court of Appeals’ Ruling

In its 10 February 2004 Decision, the Court of Appeals set


KBC Bank filed with the Court a petition[17] for review on aside Judge Dumayas’ 26 March 2003 Order. The Court of Appeals
held that:
certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. KBC Bank claimed

that:
It has long been established that the filing of a
complaint or information in Court initiates a criminal
I. action. The Court thereby acquires jurisdiction over
the case, which is the authority to hear and
The court a quo committed reversible error in issuing determine the case. When after the filing of the
the questioned Order without specifying its legal complaint or information, a warrant for the arrest of
basis. the accused is issued by the trial court and the
accused either voluntarily submitted himself to the
II. Court or was duly arrested, the Court thereby
acquired jurisdiction over the person of the accused.
The court a quo committed reversible error in
prematurely acting upon the Makati Prosecutor’s xxxx
Motion to Withdraw of Information.
The trial judge practically concurred with the findings of the
III. Secretary of Justice that the “fax copy is hearsay evidence and
therefore, inadmissible to prove the truth that it contains”, contrary
The court a quo committed reversible error in finding to the well-reasoned findings of the investigating prosecutor. It is
that no probable cause exists to hold respondents for emphasized that a preliminary investigation is not the occasion for
trial for estafa under Article 315, par. 2(a) and in the full and exhaustive display of the parties’ evidence; it is for the
granting the Makati Prosecutor’s Motion to Withdraw presentation of such evidence only as may engender a well-
Information.[18] grounded belief that an offense has been committed and that the
accused is probably guilty thereof.

The issue of admissibility or inadmissibility of evidence is a


matter of defense that is best ventilated in a full-blown trial;
preliminary investigation is not the occasion for the exhaustive
In a Resolution[19] dated 23 June 2003, the Court referred the
display of presentation of evidence.[22]
petition to the Court of Appeals pursuant to Section 6, [20] Rule 56 of
Hence, the present petition.
the Rules of Court. In his Resolution [21]
dated 19 November 2003,

54
The Issues The petition is unmeritorious.

Lee and Lim claim that the Court of Appeals erred when it
reviewed the findings of Secretary Perez. They stated that:
In their petition, Lee and Lim raised as issues that:

[T]he Court of Appeals cannot indirectly review the


I
findings of the Secretary under the pretext of
correcting the actuation of the trial court. x x x
THE COURT EXCEEDED ITS AUTHORITY IN
PASSING UPON THE ISSUE OF WHETHER OR NOT
[T]he only ruling before the Court of Appeals is the ruling of the
THERE WAS PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE OF ESTAFA
trial court x x x.
AGAINST THE PETITIONERS, AN ISSUE THAT WAS
PENDING BEFORE THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE
But the Court of Appeals ignored the fact that the case
before it is not one for the review of the final order of the Secretary
xxxx
of Justice, acting as a quasi-judicial officer, which is governed by
Rule 43 of the Rules of Court. The actual case filed with it was
rather a petition for review on certiorari of the dismissal order of
II
the trial court under Rule 45.[24]
QUESTION IS NOT ONE OF ADMISSIBILITY OF
EVIDENCE BUT THE NEED IN PRELIMINARY
INVESTIGATION FOR EVIDENCE OF VALUE TO
ESTABLISH PROBABLE CAUSE
The Court is not impressed. The Court of Appeals reviewed
xxxx
Judge Dumayas’ 26 March 2003 Order, not Secretary Perez’s 12
III July 2002 Resolution. The Court of Appeals held that Judge

RESPONDENT COURT DID NOT PREMATURELY Dumayas erred when he failed to make his own evaluation and
ALLOW THE WITHDRAWAL OF THE INFORMATIONS
merely relied on Secretary Perez’s recommendation that there was
xxxx no probable cause. The Court of Appeals stated that:
IV
In a more recent case, the Supreme Court
THE TRIAL COURT DID NOT ABDICATE ITS ruled that:
DUTY TO DETERMINE THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE
PROSECUTION’S REASON FOR WITHDRAWING THE “A judge acts with grave abuse
INFORMATIONS.[23] of discretion when he grants a
prosecutor’s motion to dismiss the
criminal charges against an accused
The Court’s Ruling on the basis solely of the
recommendation of the Secretary of
Justice — his reliance on the
55
prosecutor’s averment that the
Secretary of Justice had recommended But the Secretary of Justice’s rejection of the “fax copy” of
the dismissal of the case against the Otto Versand’s letter as hearsay evidence merely affirmed
petitioner is an abdication of the trial petitioners’ right to due process in a preliminary investigation. x x
court’s duty and jurisdiction to x
determine a prima facie case in blatant
violation of the Court’s pronouncement xxxx
in Crespo vs. Mogul.”
Ms. Pajarillo authenticated it by stating under oath that she
When the trial judge issued its Order of February 14, 2002 received it. The cause for its rejection is the fact that its contents
directing the issuance of warrants of arrest against the are purely hearsay since Ms. Pajarillo who testified about them had
respondents, he clearly found probable cause to sustain the filing of no personal knowledge of the fact that the purchase orders were
criminal complaints against the latter. The issuance of a warrant of false. The author of the fax message did not swear under oath to
arrest is not a ministerial function of the court — it calls for the the truth of the statement in the document contrary to what
exercise of judicial discretion on the part of the issuing section 3 (e) of Rule 112 mandates.
magistrate.
The Office of the Solicitor General agreed with the
petitioners. In the comment dated October 28, 2003 that it filed
If the trial court judge finds it appropriate to dismiss the with the Court of Appeals, it said:
Informations, the same should be based upon his own personal
individual conviction that there is no case against the xxxx
accused/respondents. To rely solely on the recommendation of the
Secretary of Justice, to say the least, is an abdication of the 20. In this case, the Secretary
judge[’]s duty and jurisdiction to determine a prima facie of Justice’s realistic judicial appraisal of
case. What was imperatively required was the trial judge’s own the merits of petitioner’s complaint-
assessment of just evidence, it not being sufficient for the valid and affidavit show that its evidence of
proper exercise of judicial discretion merely to accept the estafa is insufficient for lack of proof of
prosecution’s word for its supposed insufficiency.[25] the requisite element of deceit. So
much so that if the case were tried, the
trial court would be bound to order an
acquittal.[26]
Lee and Lim claim that the Court of Appeals erred when it

ruled that the admissibility of the facsimile message is a matter


The Court is not impressed. Whether the facsimile message
best ventilated in a full-blown trial. They stated that: is admissible in evidence and whether the element of deceit in the
crime of estafa is present are matters best ventilated in a full-blown
trial, not in the preliminary investigation. In Andres v. Justice
At any rate, the Court of Appeals also said in its Secretary Cuevas,[27] the Court held that:
decision that the issue of admissibility of evidence
assailed as hearsay is a matter of defense to be
ventilated in a full blown trial. It held that [A preliminary investigation] is not the occasion for
preliminary investigation is not the occasion for the full and exhaustive display of [the prosecution’s]
exhaustive display of evidence and the issue of evidence. The presence or absence of the elements
admissibility or inadmissibility of evidence is a matter of the crime is evidentiary in nature and is a matter
of defense to be ventilated at the trial.
56
of defense that may be passed upon after a full- Accordingly, the Motion to Withdraw Information filed by the
blown trial on the merits. Prosecution is hereby granted and the two (2) informations for the
crime of Estafa penalized under par. 2 (a) of the Revised Penal
In fine, the validity and merits of a party’s defense or Code are hereby withdrawn from the docket of this court.
accusation, as well as the admissibility of testimonies
and evidence, are better ventilated during trial proper than at the
preliminary investigation level.[28] (Emphasis supplied)
In Co v. Lim,[30] the Court held that:

Lee and Lim claim that the Court of Appeals erred when it Once a case is filed with the court, any
disposition of it rests on the sound discretion of the
ruled that Judge Dumayas failed to make his own evaluation and court. The trial court is not bound to adopt the
resolution of the Secretary of Justice, since it is
merely relied on Secretary Perez’s recommendation that there was mandated to independently evaluate or assess the
merits of the case. Reliance on the resolution of the
no probable cause. They stated that:
Secretary of Justice alone would be an abdication of
its duty and jurisdiction to determine a prima
Contrary to the Court of Appeals[’] ruling, the facie case. The trial court may make an independent
trial court made an effort to evaluate the merit of the assessment of the merits of the case based on the
prosecution’s motion to withdraw the affidavits and counter-affidavits, documents, or
informations. It evaluated the merits of both the evidence appended to the Information; the records of
prosecution’s motion and respondent bank’s the public prosecutor, which the court may order the
opposition to the motion. x x x latter to produce before the court; or any evidence
already adduced before the court by the accused at
Clearly, it cannot be said that the trial court abandoned its the time the motion is filed by the public prosecutor.
responsibility of making an independent assessment of the
sufficiency of the prosecution motion [sic]. Indeed, it scrutinized XXXX
the arguments of respondent bank just as it did the arguments of
the prosecution in order to determine for itself whether or not the [T]HE TRIAL JUDGE DID NOT POSITIVELY STATE THAT
withdrawal of the informations was warranted.[29] THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED AGAINST THE
RESPONDENTS WASINSUFFICIENT FOR A PRIMA
FACIE CASE, NOR DID THE AFOREQUOTED ORDER
INCLUDE A DISCUSSION OF THE MERITS OF THE CASE
The Court is not impressed. Judge Dumayas failed to make BASED ON AN EVALUATION OR ASSESSMENT OF THE
his own evaluation in granting the motion to withdraw the EVIDENCE ON RECORD. IN OTHER WORDS, THE
DISMISSAL OF THE CASE WAS BASED UPON
informations. Judge Dumayas’ 26 March 2003 Order states in full: CONSIDERATIONS OTHER THAN THE JUDGE’S OWN
PERSONAL INDIVIDUAL CONVICTION THAT THERE
WAS NO CASE AGAINST THE RESPONDENTS. THUS,
This Court, after an in-depth scrutiny of the THE TRIAL JUDGE IMPROPERLY RELINQUISHED THE
arguments raised by the prosecution and private DISCRETION THAT HE WAS BOUND TO EXERCISE,
complainant, finds the contentions of the prosecution AND THE ORDERS DATED 11 FEBRUARY 2004 AND
to be sufficient and meritorious. 29 JUNE 2004 ARE INVALID FOR HAVING BEEN

57
ISSUED IN GRAVE ABUSE OF ASSESSMENT WHETHER THE CONCLUSIONS ARRIVED
DISCRETION. (EMPHASIS SUPPLIED) AT BY THE SECRETARY OF JUSTICE WAS SUPPORTED
BY EVIDENCE. IT DID NOT EVEN TAKE A LOOK AT
THE BASES ON WHICH THE JUSTICE SECRETARY
DOWNGRADED THE CHARGES AGAINST JOVITO AND
IN BALTAZAR V. CHUA,[31] THE COURT HELD THAT:
EXCLUDED JAIME THEREFROM.[32] (EMPHASIS
SUPPLIED)
CONSIDERING THAT THE TRIAL COURT HAS THE
POWER AND DUTY TO LOOK INTO THE PROPRIETY OF
THE PROSECUTION’S MOTION TO DISMISS, WITH IN ARK TRAVEL EXPRESS V. THE PRESIDING JUDGE OF
MUCH MORE REASON IS IT FOR THE TRIAL COURT TO
EVALUATE AND TO MAKE ITS OWN APPRECIATION MAKATI,[33] THE COURT HELD THAT:
AND CONCLUSION, WHETHER THE MODIFICATION OF
THE CHARGES AND THE DROPPING OF ONE OF THE
ACCUSED IN THE INFORMATION, AS RECOMMENDED IT IS SETTLED THAT WHEN CONFRONTED
BY THE JUSTICE SECRETARY, IS SUBSTANTIATED BY WITH A MOTION TO WITHDRAW AN INFORMATION ON
EVIDENCE. THIS SHOULD BE THE STATE OF AFFAIRS, THE GROUND OF LACK OF PROBABLE CAUSE BASED
SINCE THE DISPOSITION OF THE CASE — SUCH AS ITS ON A RESOLUTION OF THE SECRETARY OF THE
CONTINUATION OR DISMISSAL OR EXCLUSION OF AN DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, THE BOUNDEN DUTY OF
ACCUSED — IS REPOSED IN THE SOUND DISCRETION THE TRIAL COURT IS TO MAKE AN INDEPENDENT
OF THE TRIAL COURT. ASSESSMENT OF THE MERITS OF SUCH
MOTION. HAVING ACQUIRED JURISDICTION OVER
IN THE CASE UNDER CONSIDERATION, THE CITY THE CASE, THE TRIAL COURT IS NOT BOUND BY
PROSECUTOR INDICTED JAIME AND JOVITO FOR THE SUCH RESOLUTION BUT IS REQUIRED TO EVALUATE
CRIMES OF MURDER AND FRUSTRATED IT BEFORE PROCEEDING FURTHER WITH THE
MURDER. HOWEVER, UPON REVIEW, THE TRIAL AND SHOULD EMBODY SUCH ASSESSMENT IN
SECRETARY OF JUSTICE DOWNGRADED THE THE ORDER DISPOSING THE MOTION.
CHARGES TO HOMICIDE AND FRUSTRATED
HOMICIDE. THE SECRETARY ALSO DROPPED JAIME THE SUBJECT MTC ORDERS DO NOT SHOW
FROM THE CHARGES. THIS RESOLUTION PROMPTED THAT THE MTC MADE AN INDEPENDENT ASSESSMENT
THE CITY PROSECUTOR TO FILE A MANIFESTATION OF THE MERITS OF THE MOTION TO WITHDRAW
AND MOTION FOR THE WITHDRAWAL OF THE INFORMATIONS. X X X
INFORMATIONS FOR MURDER AND FRUSTRATED
MURDER AND FOR THE ADMISSION OF NEW THE MTC SHOULD HAVE MADE AN
INFORMATIONS FOR HOMICIDE AND FRUSTRATED INDEPENDENT EVALUATION AND EMBODIED ITS
HOMICIDE AGAINST JOVITO ONLY, WHICH WAS ASSESSMENT IN AT LEAST ONE OF ITS ASSAILED
GRANTED BY JUDGE CRUZ IN HIS ORDER DATED 18 ORDERS.[34] (EMPHASIS SUPPLIED)
NOVEMBER 1997. JUDGE CRUZ, HOWEVER, FAILED
TO MAKE AN INDEPENDENT ASSESSMENT OF THE
IN LEDESMA V. COURT OF APPEALS,[35] THE COURT HELD
MERITS OF THE CASES AND THE EVIDENCE ON
RECORD OR IN THE POSSESSION OF THE PUBLIC THAT:
PROSECUTOR. IN GRANTING THE MOTION OF THE
PUBLIC PROSECUTOR TO WITHDRAW THE
INFORMATIONS, THE TRIAL COURT NEVER MADE ANY ONCE A COMPLAINT OR INFORMATION IS FILED IN
COURT, ANY DISPOSITION OF THE CASE SUCH AS ITS
58
DISMISSAL OR ITS CONTINUATION RESTS ON THE JUDGE DUMAYAS’ FAILURE TO MAKE HIS OWN EVALUATION
SOUND DISCRETION OF THE COURT. TRIAL JUDGES OF THE MERITS OF THE CASE VIOLATES KBC BANK’S RIGHT TO DUE
ARE THUS REQUIRED TO MAKE THEIR OWN PROCESS AND CONSTITUTES GRAVE ABUSE OF
ASSESSMENT OF WHETHER THE SECRETARY OF DISCRETION. JUDGE DUMAYAS’ 26 MARCH 2003 ORDER GRANTING
JUSTICE COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION THE MOTION TO WITHDRAW THE INFORMATIONS IS VOID.[37]
IN GRANTING OR DENYING THE APPEAL, SEPARATELY
AND INDEPENDENTLY OF THE PROSECUTION’S OR
THE SECRETARY’S EVALUATION THAT SUCH WHEREFORE, THE PETITION IS DENIED. THE
EVIDENCE IS INSUFFICIENT OR THAT NO PROBABLE COURT AFFIRMS THE 10 FEBRUARY 2004 DECISION AND 27 JULY
CAUSE TO HOLD THE ACCUSED FOR TRIAL 2004 RESOLUTION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS IN CA-G.R. SP NO.
EXISTS. THEY SHOULD EMBODY SUCH ASSESSMENT 78004. THE CASE IS REMANDED TO THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT,
IN THEIR WRITTEN ORDER DISPOSING OF THE NATIONAL CAPITAL JUDICIAL REGION, BRANCH 58, MAKATI CITY
MOTION. FOR EVALUATION ON WHETHER PROBABLE CAUSE EXISTS TO HOLD
THE ACCUSED FOR TRIAL.
XXXX
SO ORDERED.
THE TRIAL COURT’S ORDER IS INCONSISTENT WITH OUR
REPETITIVE CALLS FOR AN INDEPENDENT AND COMPETENT
ASSESSMENT OF THE ISSUE(S) PRESENTED IN THE MOTION TO
DISMISS. THE TRIAL JUDGE WAS TASKED TO EVALUATE THE
SECRETARY’S RECOMMENDATION FINDING THE ABSENCE OF
PROBABLE CAUSE TO HOLD PETITIONER CRIMINALLY LIABLE FOR
LIBEL. HE FAILED TO DO SO. HE MERELY RULED TO PROCEED
WITH THE TRIAL WITHOUT STATING HIS REASONS FOR
DISREGARDING THE SECRETARY’S RECOMMENDATION.
[36]
(EMPHASIS SUPPLIED)

IN THE PRESENT CASE, JUDGE DUMAYAS, IN HIS 26 MARCH

2003 ORDER, DID NOT (1) POSITIVELY STATE THAT THE EVIDENCE

AGAINST LEE AND LIM IS INSUFFICIENT, (2) INCLUDE A DISCUSSION


VICTORIA P. CABRAL
OF THE MERITS OF THE CASE, (3) ASSESS WHETHER SECRETARY Vs
JACINTO UY, MICHAEL UY, MARILYN O. UY, RICHARD O. UY, REY
PEREZ’S CONCLUSION IS SUPPORTED BY EVIDENCE, (4) LOOK AT IGNACIO DIAZ, JOSE PO and JUANITO MALTO
THE BASIS OF SECRETARY PEREZ’S RECOMMENDATION, (5) G.R. No. 174584
January 20, 2010
EMBODY HIS ASSESSMENT IN THE ORDER, AND (6) STATE HIS

REASONS FOR GRANTING THE MOTION TO WITHDRAW THE DECISION


INFORMATIONS.
ABAD, J.:

59
and respondent Uy, the latter offered to acquire the lots from her
This case is about the power of courts to hear criminal
but she refused because of the pending case for cancellation of the
violations of the law that protects subdivision buyers against
patents that she filed against Bernardo with the Department of
developers selling lots before they are issued licenses to sell and
Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board.
the effect of the subsequent issuance of such licenses to sales that

land developers make before the issuance of their licenses.

On April 28, 2003 the public prosecutor’s office filed a


The Facts and the Case
criminal information before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon

City[5] in Criminal Case Q-03-116823 against respondent Uy and the


Respondent Jacinto Uy (Uy) is the chairman of Moldex Realty,
other Moldex officers, namely, respondents Michael Uy, Marilyn O.
Inc. (Moldex); the other respondents are its officers and
Uy, Richard O. Uy, Rey Ignacio Diaz, Jose Po, and Juanito Malto for
directors. Uy entered into a joint venture agreement with Quintin
selling subdivision lots to a certain Josefa C. Yanga without a
Bernardo for the inclusion into Moldex’s residential subdivision
license from the HLURB.[6]
project in Bulacan of two parcels of land, totaling 20,954 square

meters, that Bernardo held under two emancipation patents.[1]


Subsequently, however, or on September 17, 2003 the

HLURB issued Moldex the license to sell that it needed.[7]


On June 21, 2001 Moldex applied for a license to sell

subdivision lots in the project mentioned with the Housing and Land
Respondents Uy, et al. filed a motion to quash the
Use Regulatory Board (HLURB)[2] but the latter denied the
information and motion for judicial determination of probable
application for failure to comply with the requirements.[3]
cause[8] claiming that the office of the prosecutor and the trial court

had no jurisdiction over violations of P.D. 957, such jurisdiction


On July 2, 2002 petitioner Victoria P. Cabral filed a criminal
being with the HLURB alone and, granting that they could take
complaint[4] against respondents Uy, et al. for violation of Section 5
cognizance of the case, respondents Uy, et al. could not be held
of Presidential Decree (P.D.) 957, alleging that she was the
criminally liable because the HLURB subsequently issued them a
registered owner of the lots subject of Bernardo’s emancipation
license to sell.[9]
patents. She said that prior to the transaction between Bernardo

60
On May 20, 2004 the trial court denied the motions of

respondents Uy, et al.[10] On June 15, 2005 it also denied their First. Conformably with what this Court ruled in Sia v.

motion for reconsideration,[11]prompting them to appeal to the People,[16] the CA correctly upheld the public prosecutor’s authority

Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP 90468, which court granted to file the criminal information for violation of P.D. 957 and the trial

their prayer for the issuance of a temporary restraining order. court’s power to hear and adjudicate the action, the penalty being
[12]
On June 2, 2006 the latter court rendered a decision, a P20,000.00 fine and imprisonment of not exceeding 10 years or
[13]
upholding the trial court’s jurisdiction over the subject case but both such fine and imprisonment. This penalty brings the offense

ordaining its dismissal, given that the subsequent issuance of a within the jurisdiction of that court.

license to sell extinguished respondents Uy, et al.’s criminal

liability. Petitioner Cabral filed a motion for reconsideration but the Second. P.D. 957 has been enacted to regulate for the public

appeals court denied[14] it, hence, this petition. good the sale of subdivision lots and condominiums. Its Section 5

prohibits such sale without the prior issuance of an HLURB

Required to comment on the petition, the Office of the license[17] and punishes those who engage in such selling.[18] The

Solicitor General joined the petitioner in asking this Court to crime is regarded as malum prohibitum since P.D. 957 is a special

reverse the CA’s decision. law designed to protect the welfare of society and ensure the

carrying on of the purposes of civil life.[19] It is the commission of


The Issues Presented
that act as defined by law, not its character or effect that

The issues presented in this case[15] are: determines whether or not its provision has been violated. Malice

or criminal intent is immaterial in such crime. [20] In crimes that


1. Whether or not the office of the public
aremala prohibita, the forbidden acts might not be inherently
prosecutor and the trial court have jurisdiction over
criminal actions for violation of P.D. 957; and immoral. Still they are punished because the law says they are

2. Whether or not HLURB’s subsequent forbidden. With these crimes, the sole issue is whether the law has
issuance to Moldex of a license to sell extinguished
respondents Uy, et al.’s criminal liability for selling been violated.[21]
subdivision lots prior to the issuance of such license.

Since the Information in this case sufficiently alleged that


The Court’s Rulings Moldex sold a subdivision lot when it did not yet have a license to
61
do so, the crime was done. Assuming the allegations to be true, the

subsequent issuance of the license and the invocation of good faith SO ORDERED.

cannot reach back to erase the offense and extinguish respondents

Uy, et al.’s criminal liability.

In ruling that respondents’ criminal liability has been

extinguished, the CA relied on Co Chien v. Sta. Lucia Realty and

Development, Inc.[22] But CoChien is a case for refund of down

payment and nullification of the contract of sale between the buyer

and the developer whose license was issued only after the

execution of the contract. This Court refused to void the

transaction in the case because the absence of the license was not

in itself sufficient to invalidate the contract. And while there was

no fraud on the part of the developer, the HLURB directed it to pay

an administrative fine of P20,000.00 for selling the lot without the

necessary license. This only shows that the subsequent issuance of

a license, as in this case, will not extinguish the liability of the

developer for violation of Section 5 of P.D. 957.

WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition

and REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the June 2, 2006 Decision and the

August 22, 2006 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP

90468. The Court REINSTATES the May 20, 2004 Order of the

Regional Trial Court of Quezon City in Criminal Case Q-03-116823,

which denied respondents’ omnibus motion to quash and motion

for judicial determination of probable cause.


62
HAROLD V. TAMARGO Tamargo family what he knew and that the sketch of the suspect
vs
ROMULO AWINGAN, LLOYD ANTIPORDA and LICERIO ANTIPORDA,
JR., closely resembled Columna.[4]
G.R. No. 177727
January 19, 2010
After conducting a preliminary investigation and on the
DECISION
CORONA, J.: strength of Geron’s affidavit, the investigating prosecutor[5] issued

a resolution dated December 5, 2003 finding probable cause

This is a petition for review on certiorari [1] of the November against Columna and three John Does.[6] On February 2, 2004, the

10, 2006 decision[2] and May 18, 2007 resolution[3] of the Court of corresponding Informations for murder were filed against them in

Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 93610. the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila, one assigned to Branch 27

for the death of Atty. Franklin Tamargo, and the other to Branch 29
Atty. Franklin V. Tamargo and his eight-year-old daughter,
for the death of the minor Gail Franzielle.[7] Columna was arrested
Gail Franzielle, were shot and killed at around 5:15 p.m. of August
in the province of Cagayan on February 17, 2004 and brought to
15, 2003 along Nueva Street corner Escolta Street, Binondo,
Manila for detention and trial.[8]
Manila. The police had no leads on the perpetrators of the crime

until a certain Reynaldo Geron surfaced and executed an affidavit On March 8, 2004, Columna (whose real name was Manuel,

dated September 12, 2003. He stated that a certain Lucio Columna Jr.) executed an affidavit wherein he admitted his participation as

told him during a drinking spree that Atty. Tamargo was ordered “look out” during the shooting and implicated respondent Romulo

killed by respondent Lloyd Antiporda and that he (Columna) was Awingan (alias “Mumoy”) as the gunman and one Richard Mecate.

one of those who killed Atty. Tamargo. He added that he told the He also tagged as masterminds respondent Licerio Antiporda, Jr.

and his son, respondent Lloyd Antiporda.[9] The former was the ex-

63
mayor and the latter the mayor of Buguey, Cagayan at that in the Sandiganbayan against Licerio. However, they claimed that

time. When the killing took place, Licerio Antiporda was in both cases were dismissed as Lloyd emerged as the winner in the

detention for a kidnapping case in which Atty. Tamargo was acting elections and Licerio was acquitted by the Sandiganbayan.[13]

as private prosecutor.
During the preliminary investigation, respondent Licerio

Pursuant to this affidavit, petitioner Harold V. Tamargo presented Columna’s unsolicited handwritten letter dated May 3,

(brother of Atty. Tamargo) filed a complaint against those 2004 to respondent Lloyd, sent from Columna’s jail cell in

implicated by Columna in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila. In the letter, Columna disowned the contents of his March

Manila.[10] 8, 2004 affidavit and narrated how he had been tortured until he

On April 19, 2004, Columna affirmed his affidavit before the signed the extrajudicial confession. He stated that those he

investigating prosecutor[11] who subjected him to clarificatory implicated had no participation in the killings.[14] Respondent Licerio

questions.[12] also submitted an affidavit of Columna dated May 25, 2004 wherein

Respondents denied any involvement in the killings. They the latter essentially repeated the statements in his handwritten

alleged that Licerio was a candidate for mayor in Buguey, Cagayan letter.

during the May 2004 elections and that the case was instituted by Due to the submission of Columna’s letter and affidavit, the

his political opponents in order to derail his candidacy. The investigating prosecutor set a clarificatory hearing, to enable

Antipordas admitted that Atty. Tamargo was their political rival for Columna to clarify his contradictory affidavits and his unsolicited

the mayoralty post of Buguey. Atty. Tamargo had been defeated letter. During the hearing held on October 22, 2004, Columna

twice by Lloyd and once by Licerio. Before the killing, Atty. categorically admitted the authorship and voluntariness of the

Tamargo filed an election case against Lloyd and a kidnapping case unsolicited letter. He affirmed the May 25, 2004 affidavit and
64
denied that any violence had been employed to obtain or extract cases were consolidated and assigned to the RTC of Manila, Branch

the affidavit from him.[15] 29.[20]

Thus, on November 10, 2004, the investigating prosecutor


However, on August 12, 2005, Secretary Gonzales granted
recommended the dismissal of the charges. This was approved by
the Antipordas’ motion for reconsideration (MR) and directed the
the city prosecutor.
withdrawal of the Informations.[21] This time, he declared that the
Meanwhile, in another handwritten letter addressed to City
extrajudicial confession of Columna was inadmissible against
Prosecutor Ramon Garcia dated October 29, 2004, Columna said
respondents and that, even if it was admissible, it was not
that he was only forced to withdraw all his statements against
corroborated by other evidence.[22] As a result, on August 22, 2005,
respondents during the October 22, 2004 clarificatory hearing
the trial prosecutor filed a motion to withdraw the Informations. On
because of the threats to his life inside the jail. He requested that
October 4, 2005, Secretary Gonzalez denied petitioner’s MR.
he be transferred to another detention center. [16]

Aggrieved by the dismissal of the charges, petitioner filed The RTC, through Judge Cielito Mindaro-Grulla, granted the

an appeal to the Department of Justice (DOJ).[17] On May 30, 2005, motion to withdraw the Informations in an order dated October 26,

the DOJ, through then Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez, reversed the 2005.[23] Petitioner filed an MR but the judge voluntarily inhibited

dismissal and ordered the filing of the Informations for murder. herself without resolving the same. The cases were re-raffled to

[18]
He opined that the March 8, 2004 extrajudicial confession was Branch 19, presided by Judge Zenaida R. Daguna. Judge Daguna

not effectively impeached by the subsequent recantation and that granted the MR of petitioner in a resolution dated December 9,

there was enough evidence to prove the probable guilt of 2005. She ruled that, based on Columna’s March 8, 2004 affidavit

respondents.[19] Accordingly, the Informations were filed and the which he affirmed before the investigating prosecutor, there was

65
probable cause to hold the accused for trial. She denied the MR of After this decision was promulgated, CA-G.R. SP No. 93610

the Antipordas in an order dated February 6, 2006. was consolidated with CA-G.R. SP No. 94188. The CA denied

reconsideration in a resolution dated May 18, 2007. In a decision


Consequently, respondent Awingan filed a special civil
dated August 24, 2007, the CA likewise granted the petition for
action for certiorari and prohibition in the CA docketed as CA-G.R.
certiorari of respondents Antiporda.[24]
SP No. 93610. The Antipordas separately filed another certiorari

case docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 94188. Petitioner filed this petition assailing the decision in CA-G.R.

SP No. 93610. Later on, he filed an amended petition impleading


In a decision dated November 10, 2006 in CA-G.R. SP No.
respondents Antiporda and likewise assailing the CA decision in CA-
93610, the CA ruled that the RTC judge gravely abused her
G.R. SP No. 94188. The Court treated this as a supplemental
discretion because she arbitrarily left out of her assessment and
petition.
evaluation the substantial matters that the DOJ Secretary had fully

taken into account in concluding that there was no probable cause The main issue for our resolution is whether or not the CA

against all the accused. It also held that Columna’s extrajudicial erred in finding that Judge Daguna had committed grave abuse of

confession was not admissible against the respondents because, discretion in denying the withdrawal of the Informations for murder

aside from the recanted confession, there was no other piece of against respondents.

evidence presented to establish the existence of the


Petitioner argues that, based on the independent
conspiracy. Additionally, the confession was made only after
assessment of Judge Daguna, there was probable cause based on
Columna was arrested and not while the conspirators were
the earlier affidavit of Columna. She considered all the pieces of
engaged in carrying out the conspiracy.
evidence but did not give credit to Columna’s recantation.

66
We agree with the CA that Judge Daguna limited herself only
Respondents counter that Judge Daguna committed grave
to the following: (1) Columna’s affidavit dated March 8, 2004
abuse of discretion by limiting her evaluation and assessment only
wherein he implicated the respondents in the murders; (2) his
to evidence that supported probable cause while completely
affirmation of this affidavit during the April 19, 2004 clarificatory
disregarding contradicting evidence. They also contend that
hearing; (3) his letter dated October 29, 2004 and (4) the May 30,
Columna’s extrajudicial confession was inadmissible against
2005 DOJ resolution upholding the prosecutor’s recommendation to
respondents because of the rule on res inter alios acta.
file the murder charges.[28]

We find no merit in the petition.


She completely ignored other relevant pieces of evidence

It is settled that, when confronted with a motion to withdraw such as: (1) Columna’s May 3, 2004 letter to respondent Lloyd

an Information (on the ground of lack of probable cause to hold the Antiporda narrating the torture he suffered to force him to admit

accused for trial based on a resolution of the DOJ Secretary), the his participation in the crimes and to implicate the respondents; (2)

trial court has the duty to make an independent assessment of the his May 25, 2004 affidavit where he stated that neither he nor the

merits of the motion.[25] It may either agree or disagree with the respondents had any involvement in the murders and (3) his

recommendation of the Secretary. Reliance alone on the resolution testimony during the October 22, 2004 clarificatory hearing

of the Secretary would be an abdication of the trial court’s duty and wherein he categorically affirmed his May 3, 2004 letter and May

jurisdiction to determine a prima facie case.[26] The court must 25, 2004 affidavit.

itself be convinced that there is indeed no sufficient evidence


We declared in Jimenez v. Jimenez[29] that
against the accused. [27]

[although] there is no general formula or fixed rule


for the determination of probable cause since the
same must be decided in the light of the conditions
67
obtaining in given situations and its existence
depends to a large degree upon the finding or
opinion of the judge conducting the
examination, such a finding should not disregard the Moreover, Judge Daguna failed to consider that Columna’s
facts before the judge nor run counter to the clear
dictates of reason. The judge or fiscal, therefore,
should not go on with the prosecution in the hope extrajudicial confession in his March 8, 2004 affidavit was not
that some credible evidence might later turn up
during trial for this would be a flagrant violation of a admissible as evidence against respondents in view of the rule
basic right which the courts are created to uphold.
[30]
(Emphasis supplied) on res inter alios acta.

Res inter alios acta alteri nocere non debet. The rule on res
Had Judge Daguna reviewed the entire records of the
inter alios acta provides that the rights of a party cannot be
investigation, she would have seen that, aside from the pieces of
prejudiced by an act, declaration, or omission of another.
evidence she relied on, there were others which cast doubt on
[32]
Consequently, an extrajudicial confession is binding only on the
them. We quote with approval the reflections of the CA on this
confessant, is not admissible against his or her co-accused [33] and is
point:
considered as hearsay against them.[34] The reason for this rule is
The selectivity of respondent RTC Judge for
purposes of resolving the motion to withdraw the
that:
informations effectively sidetracked the guidelines
for an independent assessment and evaluation of the
on a principle of good faith and mutual convenience,
merits of the case. Respondent RTC Judge thus
a man’s own acts are binding upon himself, and are
impaired the substantial rights of the
evidence against him. So are his conduct and
accused. Instead, she should have made a
declarations. Yet it would not only be rightly
circumspect evaluation by looking at everything
inconvenient, but also manifestly unjust, that a man
made available to her at that point of the cases. No
should be bound by the acts of mere unauthorized
less than that was expected and required of her as a
strangers; and if a party ought not to be bound by
judicial officer. According to Santos v. Orda, Jr., the
the acts of strangers, neither ought their acts or
trial judge may make an independent assessment of
conduct be used as evidence against him.[35]
the merits of the case based on the affidavits and
counter-affidavits, documents, or evidence appended
to the Information; the records of the public
prosecutor which the court may order the latter to
produce before the court; or any evidence already
adduced before the court by the accused at the time
the motion is filed by the public prosecutor.[31]
68
An exception to the res inter alios acta rule is an admission constitutional right to be confronted with the witnesses against

made by a conspirator under Section 30, Rule 130 of the Rules of them and to cross-examine them.[38]

Court:
Here, aside from the extrajudicial confession, which was
Admission by conspirator. — The act or
declaration of a conspirator relating to the conspiracy later on recanted, no other piece of evidence was presented to
and during its existence, may be given in evidence
against the co-conspirator after the conspiracy is
shown by evidence other than such act or prove the alleged conspiracy. There was no other prosecution
declaration.
evidence, direct or circumstantial, which the extrajudicial

confession could corroborate. Therefore, the recanted confession of


This rule prescribes that the act or declaration of the
Columna, which was the sole evidence against respondents, had no
conspirator relating to the conspiracy and during its existence may
probative value and was inadmissible as evidence against them.
be given in evidence against co-conspirators provided that the

conspiracy is shown by independent evidence aside from the Considering the paucity and inadmissibility of the evidence

extrajudicial confession.[36] Thus, in order that the admission of a presented against the respondents, it would be unfair to hold them

conspirator may be received against his or her co-conspirators, it is for trial. Once it is ascertained that no probable cause exists to

necessary that (a) the conspiracy be first proved by evidence other form a sufficient belief as to the guilt of the accused, they should

than the admission itself (b) the admission relates to the common be relieved from the pain of going through a full blown court case.

[39]
object and (c) it has been made while the declarant was engaged in When, at the outset, the evidence offered during the

carrying out the conspiracy.[37] Otherwise, it cannot be used preliminary investigation is nothing more than an uncorroborated

against the alleged co-conspirators without violating their extrajudicial confession of an alleged conspirator, the criminal

complaint should not prosper so that the system would be spared

69
from the unnecessary expense of such useless and expensive

litigation.[40] The rule is all the more significant here since

respondent Licerio Antiporda remains in detention for the murder

charges pursuant to the warrant of arrest issued by Judge Daguna.

[41]

Indeed, at that stage of the proceedings, the duty of Judge

Daguna was only to satisfy herself whether there was probable

cause or sufficient ground to hold respondents for trial as co-

conspirators. Given that she had no sufficient basis for a finding of

probable cause against respondents, her orders denying the

withdrawal of the Informations for murder against them were

issued with grave abuse of discretion.

Hence, we hold that the CA committed no reversible error in

granting the petitions for certiorari of respondents.

JULIUS CACAO y PRIETO


WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED.
vs
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
G.R. No. 180870
No pronouncement as to costs. January 22, 2010

DECISION
SO ORDERED.
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
70
In order to safeguard its citizenry from the harmful effects of of Section 11, Article II of RA 9165 before the RTC of Laoag City. Insofar

dangerous drugs on their physical and mental well-being, the State as pertinent to this petition, we shall quote the information only against

pursued an intensive and unrelenting campaign against the trafficking Cacao in Criminal Case No. 11489-13 which reads:

and use of dangerous drugs and other similar substances. [1] However, in That on or about the 14th day of October, 2004,
at Laoag City, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of
our desire to totally eradicate this social ill, we must adhere to the
this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then
constitutional pronouncement that in all criminal prosecutions, the and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously [sic] have in
his possession, control and custody 1 plastic sachet of
accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved. [2] This methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu containing a
total of 1.6 grams including plastic sachets [sic] without
case illustrates once more our faithful adherence to said constitutional any license or authority, in violation of the aforesaid law.
requirement.
CONTRARY TO LAW.[8]

Factual Antecedents When arraigned on November 30, 2004, Cacao pleaded not

guilty.[9] Thereafter trial on the merits followed.


For review is the Decision[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in
CA-G.R. CR The inculpatory facts, as unveiled by the prosecution in its
No. 29985 dated July 27, 2007 affirming in toto the Decision[4] of the evidence given during the trial, were briefly synthesized by the Office of
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Laoag City, Branch 13 in Criminal Case No. the Solicitor General,viz:
On October 14, 2004, at around 7:45 in the
11489-13 dated November 25, 2005 finding herein petitioner Julius evening, Police Officer 3 (PO3) Celso Pang-ag of the
Cacao y Prieto (Cacao) guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Intelligence and Operation Section of the Laoag City
Police Station received a telephone call from an informant
Section 11, Article II of Republic Act (RA) No. 9165 (The Comprehensive about a drug session being held inside Room 5 of the
Starlight Hotel located at Barangay 5, Ablan
Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) and sentencing him to suffer the penalty Avenue, Laoag City.
of imprisonment ranging from 12 years and one day to 15 years and
Acting on the information, PO3 Pang-ag,
ordering him to pay a fine of P400,000.00. Also assailed is the together with PO2 Jonel Mangapit, went immediately to
the Starlight Hotel to determine the veracity of the
Resolution[5] of the CA dated December 11, 2007 denying the motion for report. Upon arrival at the target area, PO3 Pang-ag and
PO2 Mangapit approached the lady clerk manning the
reconsideration. information counter of Starlight Hotel and inquired about
the alleged drug session at Room 5 of the hotel.

On October 15, 2004, two separate informations were filed The lady clerk informed PO3 Pang-ag and PO2
Mangapit that the roomboy of the hotel was about to
against Joseph Canlas y Naguit[6] and Cacao[7] indicting them for violation deliver a softdrink to Room 5 and they could follow him if
they [so wish]. Thus, PO3 Pang-ag and PO2 Mangapit
71
followed the roomboy to Room 5. Upon arrival, the While in Laoag City, petitioner and Canlas
roomboy knocked at the door and a woman, later stopped at the public market for the latter to collect [loan
identified as Mylene, opened the door wide enough to payment] as he is also a money lender. Petitioner stayed
enable the police officers to look inside. [by] Canlas’ motorcycle. When Canlas returned, it was
then that they decided to have “chicks” (or
PO3 Pang-ag and PO2 Mangapit saw petitioner womanize). They then proceeded to Starlight Hotel
seated on top of the bed sniffing “shabu” while Joseph located along Ablan Ave., Laoag City on board Canlas’
Canlas was on the floor assisting petitioner sniffing motorcycle.
“shabu”. At this juncture, PO3 Pang-ag and PO2
Mangapit arrested petitioner and Joseph and confiscated x x x at the Starlight Hotel, petitioner asked for
from them the drug paraphernalia, glass tooter, scissors, a room and [was given] Room 5 x x x. Thereafter, Canlas
lighters and plastic sachets. stayed inside Room 5 while petitioner went out to the
hotel’s counter to wait for the woman they [had]
PO2 Mangapit frisked petitioner and recovered contacted. Present at the counter at the time was the
from him one plastic sachet containing “shabu”. lady cashier [named] Cherry Corpuz.

After informing petitioner and Joseph of their In about thirty (30) minutes, a tricycle-for-hire
constitutional rights, PO3 Pang-ag and PO2 Mangapit arrived with a man and a woman on board as
brought them to the Laoag City Police Station and turned passengers. The tricycle went inside the hotel and
them over to the police officer on duty while the stopped right in front of the counter where the petitioner
confiscated items were turned over to SPO3 Loreto and the lady cashier were. After alighting from the
Ancheta. tricycle, the woman companion inquired where Room 5 is
[and was directed] by the lady cashier. The woman
The Philippine National Police (PNP) laboratory [who] alighted from the tricycle in the company of
conducted an examination on the specimen recovered another male person was later on identified to be Mylene
from appellant and his companion which tested positive Daquioag. Thereafter, Mylene Daquioag proceeded to
for “shabu”.[10] Room 5 while the male companion stayed behind with
the petitioner at the hotel’s counter. When petitioner
could not wait [any] longer because there was only one
woman who arrived, he x x x asked the male companion
Cacao professed his innocence and presented his defense in this
of Mylene Daquioag if another woman is coming. The
wise: male companion answered in the negative. A couple of
minutes [later], petitioner followed to Room 5 so he could
In the afternoon of 14 October 2004, petitioner [sic] go home instead because it was then getting late.
was waiting for a ride going home along the National
Road at the rotunda of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte. Joseph Upon entering the room, petitioner saw
Canlas [who was on his way to] Laoag City aboard his Mylene Daquioag and Canlas seated at the table inside
motorcycle x x x pulled over and asked the petitioner if the room. He also saw Mylene Daquioag offer something
the latter could spare a moment to estimate a work he contained in plastic x x x to Canlas. The latter refused as
wanted to be done in his house. Admittedly, the he said it is a woman that he was asking [for].
petitioner is a contractor. Petitioner agreed and they
both boarded Canlas’ motorcycle for Laoag City. Barely a moment after entering Room 5, the
two then heard a knock on the door from the
outside. Mylene Daquiaog immediately stood up and told

72
the petitioner and Canlas that “they are (her) therefore sentenced to suffer the indeterminate penalty
companions”. of imprisonment from TWELVE (12) YEARS and ONE (1)
DAY to FIFTEEN (15) YEARS and to pay the fine of Four
As soon as the door was unlocked by Mylene hundred thousand (P400,000.00) pesos, Philippine
Daquioag, several policemen barged inside the room with Currency.
their guns drawn out. Petitioner was shoved to the bed by
one of the police. He was later bodily searched but The sachets of shabu confiscated from the
nothing was found from [sic] him except his wallet accused are all confiscated in favor of the Government,
containing cash of about P 7,000.00. The wallet was the same to be disposed as the law prescribes. Cost de
later turned over to the petitioner’s wife at the Police oficio.
Station of Laoag, City. The P7,000.00 was never seen
again. SO ORDERED.[12]

As petitioner was made to sit at [sic] the bed,


one of the police officers pointed to a plastic sachet on Ruling of the Court of Appeals
the floor. It was about two (2) meters away from him and
about a meter from the police pointing [to] it. The same
police then explained that the plastic sachet belongs to
the petitioner. Immediately, petitioner cried foul on the Aggrieved by the Decision of the trial court, Cacao interposed an
assertion.
appeal to the CA. On July 27, 2007, the appellate court rendered
Due to the suddenness of events, the judgment affirming Cacao’s conviction. It held that the circumstances
petitioner was not as much as able to notice what the
other police did to Canlas. obtaining in this case validly cloaked the arresting officers with the

Without much ado, the petitioner and Canlas authority to search and seize any contraband or prohibited material
were apprehended, handcuffed and brought to the Laoag which may be used as proof of the offense of which Cacao is charged. It
City Police Station. Charges were later on filed against
them.[11] also ruled that there is no proof that the police officers compelled Cacao

Ruling of the Regional Trial Court to admit a crime. As to the alleged contradictory statements, the

appellate court ruled that they refer only to minor details which are not
On November 25, 2005, the trial court rendered its judgment
sufficient to overthrow the probative value accorded them by the trial
finding Cacao guilty of the offense charged and sentenced him
court.
accordingly, viz:
Petitioner moved for reconsideration[13] but the motion was
WHEREFORE x x x denied by the appellate court in its Resolution[14] dated on December 11,

The accused Julius Cacao is likewise found 2007.


GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt as charged of illegal
possession of methamphetamine hydrochloride weighing Issues
1.3987 grams in Criminal Case No. 11489 and is

73
In this petition, Cacao ascribes to the trial court the following substantially affect the disposition of the case,[21] we will not hesitate to

errors: review the same. In this case, we find it imperative to review the factual

I. The lower court gravely findings of the trial court because of certain inconsistencies in the
erred in ruling that the guilt of the accused was
testimonies of the prosecution witnesses on material points.
proven beyond reasonable doubt considering the
myriad material inconsistencies, discrepancies, Jurisprudence holds that in prosecution of cases involving illegal
and incredible statements in the prosecution
evidence.[15] possession of prohibited drugs, the prosecution must establish with

II. The lower court gravely erred in moral certainty the elemental act of possession of a prohibited substance
failing to lend credence to the critical testimony of coupled with the fact that such possession is not authorized by
Benedict Villanueva.[16]
law. Essential, however, in a drug-related case is that the identity of the
III. The lower court erred in not
finding that the crucial first link in the chain of dangerous drug be established beyond reasonable doubt. [22] Since the
custody of the specimen subjected for
dangerous drug constitutes the corpus delicti of the offense and the fact
examination was not proven.[17]
of its existence is vital to a judgment of conviction,[23] it behooves upon
IV. The lower court gravely erred in
declaring that the defense of frame-up cannot be the prosecution to establish and prove with certainty that the dangerous
given weight.[18]
drug presented in court as evidence against the accused is the same
V. The lower court gravely erred in item recovered from his possession.
relying on the weakness of the defense.[19]

VI. The lower court gravely erred in


failing to find that the presumption of innocence We have scrutinized in detail the testimonies of the prosecution
of the petitioner stands unrebutted, hence, his
conviction is erroneous.[20] witnesses and found not only glaring inconsistencies on material points

but more importantly a failure to identify indubitably the prohibited drug

Our Ruling allegedly confiscated from Cacao.

We find merit in the petition.


The testimonies of
As a general rule, factual findings and conclusions of the trial the prosecution’s
principal witnesses
court and the CA are entitled to great weight and respect and will not be are inconsistent as
to who delivered
disturbed on appeal. However, if there is any indication that the trial the prohibited
court overlooked certain facts or circumstances which would drug to the

74
evidence
custodian. The foregoing assertions are totally at odds with the testimony of

Ancheta, the evidence custodian. The latter denied that it was Mangapit

who delivered the item allegedly recovered from Cacao. Instead, he


PO3 Celso Pang-ag (Pang-ag) and PO2 Jonel Mangapit (Mangapit)
repeatedly and categorically declared that it was SP03 Balolong
both testified that it was the latter who brought the item confiscated
(Balolong) from whom he received the plastic sachet of shabu.
from petitioner to the evidence custodian, SPO3 Loreto Ancheta

(Ancheta). Thus: Q: Who delivered to you the specimen allegedly


confiscated from the possession of Cacao?
Q: What about the two plastic sachets you A: SP03 Balolong, Sir.[26]
confiscated from the possession of the accused
Joseph and the one plastic sachet which Jonel
Mangapit confiscated from the possession of During his cross-examination, Ancheta confirmed his declaration
Julius Cacao as well as the drug paraphernalia you
mentioned, what did you do with them? that it was Balolong and definitely not Mangapit who handed to him the
A: We turned over the confiscated drug
paraphernalia and the one I confiscated to the plastic sachet ofshabu. Ancheta testified thus:
evidence custodian, SP03 Loreto Ancheta and the
one confiscated by P02 Mangapit was also turned Q: You said that it was officer Balolong who
over by him to the evidence custodian, sir. handed to you the plastic sachet of shabu which
Q: Who was the evidence custodian whom you was allegedly taken from the possession of
and Jonel Mangapit turned over the items you accused Julius Cacao, did I hear you right?
said? A: Julius Cacao, yes sir.
A: SPO3 Loreto Ancheta, Sir.[24]
Q: It was not officer Mangapit who handed to you
the plastic sachet of shabu?
A: Balolong, sir.
Mangapit corroborated Pang-ag’s testimony that it was he who
Q: It was not Mangapit?
delivered to Ancheta the item he seized from Cacao. Thus:
A: No sir.[27]
Q: How about the one big plastic sachet you were When confronted with the afore-quoted testimony of Ancheta,
able to seize from the right front pocket of
accused Cacao, what did you do? Mangapit cannot explain the variance. He just gave a sweeping answer
A: I turned it over to the evidence custodian, Sir.
“I do not know”.[28]
Q: Who was that evidence custodian to whom you
turned over that plastic sachet?
A: SP02 Loreto Ancheta, Sir.[25] We cannot understand why the courts below did not doubt or

suspect the patently inconsistent and contradictory testimonies of the

principal witnesses of the prosecution. Contrary to the findings of the

75
sort out [the] contents and bring out that big
appellate court, we are of the considered view that this contradiction is plastic sachet you claimed you confiscated from
the custody of accused Cacao?
not so inconsequential or minor but a discrepancy touching on
A: (Witness sorting out the contents of the plastic
substantial and significant matter which could well affect the credibility of bag containing several items). (Witness
examining the plastic sachet mounted on the
the witnesses. bond paper marked as Exhibit B-1).

Q: Are the markings you claimed which were


The prosecution placed in the plastic sachet still visible and
failed to readable?
satisfactorily A: Yes, sir.
establish that the
item presented in Q: Will you please read for record purposes the
court was the markings?
same item A: Initial JPC and my signature, sir.
confiscated from (Witness pointing to the initials and signature
Cacao. written on a darker masking tape on the plastic
sachet).[29]

The patent inconsistency between the testimonies of Mangapit


Verily, there was no actual and effective identification of the
and Pang-ag, on one hand, and the testimony of Ancheta on the other
subject specimen. After sorting out the contents of the plastic bag,
hand, necessarily leads us to doubt that the plastic sachet
witness Mangapit merely pointed to the initial and signature written on a
of shabu identified in court is the same item that was allegedly seized
masking tape attached to the plastic sachet. At no instance did he make
and confiscated from petitioner. If the version of Mangapit is to be
a categorical and accurate declaration that the sachet contained
believed, then the most lamentable aspect pertains to his failure to
the shabu allegedly confiscated from Cacao.
identify the seized item with certainty. For sure Mangapit, who is the

most competent person to make the proper identification being the


The only other person who could have identified the subject drug
officer who confiscated the item from Cacao, never actually identified the
is Pang-ag. However, we cannot lend credence to his supposed
same:
identification, the same not being also positive, certain and
Q: If shown to you again that one big plastic
sachet where you put markings would you be unequivocal. Besides, there is no showing that this witness actually saw
able to recognize and identify the same?
the shabu at the time it was allegedly seized from petitioner. In fact,
A: Yes, sir.
Pang-ag is even incompetent to make the identification since from all
Q: Giving to you an already opened brown
envelope with several contents, will you please indications, he has never been in possession of it.
76
case. Thus, there is no evidence to prove that what was turned over to

Be that as it may, any identification made by these witnesses on the evidence custodian by Balolong and later presented in court was the

the item allegedly seized from petitioner is rendered meaningless and same substance recovered from petitioner. The failure to establish the

bereft of probative value in view of the categorical denial of the evidence chain of custody is fatal to the prosecution’s case. There can be no

custodian that he received the same from Mangapit. It is now clearly crime of illegal possession of a prohibited drug when nagging doubts

evident from the records that the sachet of shabu which the evidence persist on whether the item confiscated was the same specimen

custodian received, marked and submitted for examination and later examined and established to be the prohibited drug. [31] In People v.

presented in court is not the same sachet of shabu which Mangapit Casimiro,[32] citing People v. Mapa,[33] we acquitted the accused for failure

claimed to have confiscated from petitioner and subsequently of the prosecution to establish the identity of the prohibited drug which

transmitted to the evidence custodian. constitutes the corpus delicti. Equally true in Zarraga v. People,[34] we

also acquitted the accused in view of the prosecution’s failure to

Moreover, considering the testimony of Ancheta, it was Balolong indubitably show the identity of the shabu.

who forwarded the seized item. It is quite strange that Ancheta would

point to Balolong as the sender of the seized items if he had no basis in At this juncture, it must be stressed that the “corpus delicti in

saying so. However, our own scrutiny of the records failed to show the dangerous drugs cases constitutes the drug itself. This means that proof

role of Balolong in the operation since admittedly, the only lawmen who beyond reasonable doubt of the identity of the prohibited drug is

participated therein were Mangapit and Pang-ag. In fact, as testified to essential”.[35]

by Mangapit, Balolong proceeded to the hotel after the operation.


[30]
How then was Balolong able to get hold of the confiscated substance Likewise, our ruling in People v. Gutierrez[36] on chain of custody

when he was neither a party to nor present during the operation? Who rule is instructive. Thus:

entrusted the substance to him assuming that somebody requested him As a mode of authenticating evidence, the
chain of custody rule requires the presentation of the
to submit it for safekeeping? These are only some of the lingering
seized prohibited drugs as an exhibit be preceded by
questions which must be answered convincingly and satisfactorily so as evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in
question is what the proponent claims it to be. This
to ensure that there had been no substitution, contamination or would ideally cover the testimony about every link in the
chain, from seizure of the prohibited drug up to the time it
tampering with the sachet of shabu allegedly taken from petitioner. It is offered in evidence, in such a way that everyone who
must be noted that Balolong was never presented to testify in this touched the exhibit would describe how and from whom

77
it was received, to include, as much as possible, a
description of the condition in which it was delivered to December 11, 2007 denying the motion for reconsideration,
the next in the chain.
are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Petitioner Julius Cacao y Prieto

is ACQUITTED on ground of reasonable doubt.


Finally, petitioner’s defenses of denial and frame-up are
SO ORDERED.
concededly inherently weak and commonly used in drug-related

cases. However, it must be stressed that conviction of the accused must

rest not on the weakness of the defense but on the strength of the

evidence of the prosecution.

Based on the foregoing, we are of the considered view that the

quantum of evidence needed to convict, that is proof beyond reasonable PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
doubt, has not been adequately established by the prosecution. While vs.
ROLDAN MORALES y MIDARASA
as a rule we desist from disturbing the findings and conclusions of the G.R. No. 172873
March 19, 2010
trial court especially with respect to the credibility of witnesses, we must

bow to the superior and immutable rule that the guilt of the accused DECISION

must be proved beyond reasonable doubt because the law presumes DEL CASTILLO, J.:
that the accused is innocent unless and until proven
The requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt has this vital
otherwise. Presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty role in our criminal procedure for cogent reasons. The accused
during a criminal prosecution has at stake interest of immense
cannot by itself override the constitutional right of the accused to be importance, both because of the possibility that he may lose his
liberty upon conviction and because of the certainty that he would
presumed innocent unless overcome by strong, clear and compelling
be stigmatized by the conviction. Accordingly, a society that values
evidence. the good name and freedom of every individual should not
condemn a man for commission of a crime when there is
reasonable doubt about his guilt.1 Due process commands that no
man shall lose his liberty unless the Government has borne the
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision of burden of convincing the factfinder of his guilt. To this end, the
reasonable-doubt standard is indispensable, for it ‘impresses on the
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No. 29985 dated July 27, 2007
trier of fact the necessity of reaching certitude of the facts in issue.2
affirming in toto the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Laoag City,
Moreover, use of the reasonable-doubt standard is indispensable to
Branch 13, in Criminal Case No. 11489-13, and its Resolution dated command the respect and confidence of the community in
78
applications of criminal law. It is critical that the moral force of transport, distribute or act as broker in the said transaction, zero
criminal law not be diluted by a standard of proof that leaves point zero three (0.03) gram of methylamphetamine hydrochloride,
people in doubt whether innocent men are being condemned. It is a dangerous drug.
also important in our free society that every individual going about
his ordinary affairs has confidence that his government cannot CONTRARY TO LAW.8
adjudge him guilty of a criminal offense without convincing a
proper factfinder of his guilt with utmost certainty.3 Upon arraignment, appellant, assisted by counsel, pleaded not
guilty to both charges read in Filipino, a language known and
Lest there remain any doubt about the constitutional stature of the understood by him.9 On motion of the City Prosecutor, the cases
reasonable-doubt standard, we explicitly hold that the Due Process were consolidated for joint trial.10Trial on the merits ensued
Clause protects the accused against conviction except upon proof thereafter.
beyond a reasonable doubt of every fact necessary to constitute
the crime with which he is charged.4 The testimonies of PO1 Eduardo Roy (PO1 Roy) and PO3 Armando
Rivera (PO3 Rivera) were presented by the prosecution:
On appeal is the Decision5 of the Court of Appeals (CA)
promulgated on April 24, 2006 affirming in toto the Decision 6 of the PO1 Roy testified that on January 2, 2003, at about 2:00 p.m., he
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 103 finding was on duty at Police Station 9 where he made a pre-operation
appellant Roldan Morales y Midarasa guilty of the crimes of report on the buy-bust operation to be conducted on the herein
possession and sale of dangerous drugs. appellant that same afternoon.11He then proceeded to Brgy. San
Vicente, Quezon City with PO3 Rivera for the operation. 12 At a point
Factual Antecedents near Jollibee, they met the informant who, upon seeing the subject
appellant, went with him to meet PO1 Roy.13 After being introduced
Appellant was charged in two separate Informations before the RTC to the appellant as a buyer of "piso" worth of "shabu", appellant
with possession and sale of methylamphetamine hydrochloride immediately produced a sachet containing the alleged drug. When
(shabu), to wit: appellant received the marked money amounting to P100.00,14 PO1
Roy raised his left hand, at which point his back-up officer, PO3
Criminal Case No. Q-03-114256 Rivera appeared and immediately arrested the appellant.15 The
appellant was immediately brought to the Police Station for
That on or about the 2nd day of January, 2003 in Quezon City, investigation, while the two sachets of "shabu" and aluminum foil
Philippines, the said accused not being authorized by law to discovered on the said appellant were brought to the Crime
possess or use any dangerous drug, did then and there, willfully, Laboratory for examination.16
unlawfully and knowingly have in her/his/their possession and
control, zero point zero three (0.03) grams of methylamphetamine PO3 Rivera testified that he was the back-up officer of PO1 Roy, the
hydrochloride, a dangerous drug. poseur-buyer in the buy-bust operation conducted against the
appellant in the afternoon of January 2, 2003.17 In preparation for
CONTRARY TO LAW.7 the said operation, he conducted a short briefing and recorded the
particulars of the operation they were about to carry out: the place
of the operation which is at the parking lot of Jollibee Philcoa; the
Criminal Case No. Q-03-114257 identification of the suspect as the appellant; and the preparation
of the buy-bust money to be used.18 With respect to the buy-bust
That on or about the 2nd day of January, 2003, in Quezon City, money, he prepared oneP50.00 bill, two P20.00 bills and
Philippines, the said accused, not being authorized by law to sell, one P10.00 bill, by making the appropriate marking on the top
dispense, deliver, transport or distribute any dangerous drug, did, portion of each bill and recording their respective serial
then and there, willfully and unlawfully sell, dispense, deliver, numbers.19 Later that afternoon, police officers proceeded to the
79
meeting place. PO3 Rivera positioned himself in a parked totaling P90.00, were given to him by his mother for his bus fare to
vehicle20 about 20 meters from the situs of the transaction. 21 He Quezon.37 He disclaimed any knowledge of theP10.00 bill.38 He
thus had a clear view of the appellant with the informant and PO1 further testified that he personally knew PO3 Rivera prior to the
Roy.22 Shortly thereafter, he saw PO1 Roy make the pre-arranged arrest, since his first cousin and PO3 Rivera had a quarrel which he
signal at which point he approached the appellant to arrest had no involvement whatsoever.39 He noted the fact that it was
him.23 He recovered the marked money from the appellant and PO3 Rivera who arrested him.40
proceeded to frisk the latter.24 Upon conducting the body search,
he found another sachet which he suspected to be "shabu" and two Witness Joaquin Artemio Marfori testified that he is the employer of
aluminum foils. Appellant was brought to the Police Station for the appellant in his agricultural and poultry supply store in
detention, while the items seized from him were brought to the Babayan, Calamba, Laguna.41 He further stated that he allowed the
Crime Laboratory for examination.25 The two sachets tested appellant to go on vacation on December 12, 2003 to celebrate the
positive for Methylamphetamine Hydrochloride (shabu) while the New Year with his family in Manila.42 However, the appellant failed
aluminum foil sheets tested negative of the aforementioned to report back for work at the start of the New Year.43
substance.26
Finally, witness Arsenia Morales (Arsenia) corroborated the
Both PO1 Roy and PO3 Rivera identified a Joint Affidavit dated testimony of her son that she gave him P90.00, consisting of
January 3, 2003 during their respective testimonies, which they one P50.00 bill and two P20.00 bills as bus fare back to Laguna
acknowledged to have executed subsequent to the buy-bust where he worked.44 Thinking that her son was already on his way
operation.27 home, she was surprised to receive a call from her daughter
informing her that her son, the appellant, was arrested for
The defense presented the testimonies of Joaquin Artemio Marfori, possession and sale of "shabu".45
Arsenia Morales and the appellant:
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
Appellant denied the charges against him.28 He testified that he is a
resident of Dolores, Quezon where he worked in a fertilizer On April 29, 2004, the trial court rendered a Decision finding the
store.29 He was in Manila at that time to bring money for his parents appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession and
who live at Cruz na Ligas.30 As his mother did not give him enough illegal sale of dangerous drugs. The dispositive portion of the said
money for his fare back to Quezon, he sidelined as a parking Decision reads:
attendant at Philcoa in order to earn the balance of his bus
fare.31 However, sometime that afternoon, two male persons in WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing disquisition, judgment is
civilian clothes suddenly approached him and his co-attendant, hereby rendered finding the accused ROLDAN MORALES y
identified themselves as policemen and poked their guns at Midarasa, GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt in Criminal Case No. Q-
them.32 The said policemen handcuffed them and proceeded to 03-114257 for violation of Section 5, Article II, R.A. [No.] 9165 for
frisk them.33 He averred that nothing was found on him and yet the drug pushing [of] zero point zero three (0.03) gram of white
policemen still brought him to the police station.34 He denied the crystalline substance containing Methylamphetamine hydrochloride
allegation made against him that he sold, much less possessed, the and is hereby sentenced to suffer Life Imprisonment and to pay a
"shabu" subject of this action.35 He further testified that in the fine of Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00) pesos.
tricycle on the way to the police station, PO1 Roy took out a plastic
of "shabu" from his (PO1 Roy’s) pocket and once at the station, the
said policeman showed it to the desk officer and claimed that the The Court likewise finds the accused ROLDAN MORALES y Midarasa
plastic sachet was found on the appellant.36 GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt in Criminal Case No. Q-03-114256
for violation of Section 11, Article II, R.A. [No.] 9165 for drug
possession x x x of zero point zero three (0.03) gram of white
He likewise denied having received the buy-bust money and crystalline substance containing Methylamphetamine hydrochloride
claimed that the P50.00 bill and the two P20.00 bills,
80
and is hereby sentenced to suffer an imprisonment term of Twelve one (1) ten peso bill. PO1 Roy who acted as the poseur-buyer and
(12) Years and One (1) Month to Thirteen (13) Years and to pay a PO3 Rivera as his back-up proceeded to University Avenue corner
fine of Three Hundred Fifty Thousand (P350,000.00) Pesos. Commonwealth Avenue, Barangay San Vicente, Quezon City
together with the informant.
The sachets of shabu subject of these cases are ordered
transmitted to the PDEA thru Dangerous Drugs Board for proper PO1 Roy and the informant met appellant at the parking lot of
disposition after this decision becomes final. Jollibee restaurant while PO3 Rivera positioned himself at the side
of a parked car where he can easily have a clear view of the three.
SO ORDERED.46 After PO1 Roy was introduced by the informant to the appellant as
a buyer of "shabu", the latter immediately produced a sachet
The trial court held that the prosecution witnesses positively containing the said prohibited drugs and handed the same to him.
identified the appellant as the person who possessed and sold to PO1 Roy raised his left hand as the pre-arranged signal that the
the poseur-buyer the "shabu" subject of this case, during the buy- transaction was consummated. Thereafter, PO3 Rivera went to the
bust operation conducted in the afternoon of January 2, 2003.47 The area, introduced himself as a police officer and frisked appellant
trial court found that from the evidence presented, the prosecution from whom he recovered the marked money and a matchbox,
was able to sufficiently establish the following: (1) the fact of the where the suspected "shabu" was placed, and two (2) aluminum
buy-bust operation conducted in the afternoon of January 2, 2003 foils. They informed appellant of his constitutional rights and
at the parking lot of Jollibee Philcoa which led to the arrest of the brought him to the police station while the two (2) small
appellant; and (2) the corpus delicti, through the presentation in transparent heat sealed sachets containing the suspected
court of the two sachets of white substance which was confirmed prohibited drugs and paraphernalia were turned over to the crime
by the Chemistry Report to be methylamphetamine hydrochloride laboratory for examination, and which [was] later, found to be
("shabu"), found in the possession of and sold by the appellant.48 positive for methylamphetamine hydrochloride (commonly known
as "shabu").52
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Thence, the CA rendered judgment to wit:
The CA affirmed the Decision of the trial court in toto. It found that
contrary to the allegations of the appellant, there was no WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed decision of the
instigation that took place.49 Rather, a buy-bust operation was Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 103 dated April 29,
employed by the police officers to apprehend the appellant while in 2004 is hereby AFFIRMED IN TOTO.
the act of unlawfully selling drugs.50 The appellate court further
held that what is material in a prosecution for illegal sale of SO ORDERED.53
prohibited drugs is the proof that the transaction or sale actually
took place, coupled with the presentation in court of the corpus Appellant elevated the case to this Court via Notice of Appeal.54 In
delicti.51 Stripped of non-essentials, the CA summarized the our Resolution dated July 12, 2006, we resolved to accept the case
antecedent facts of the case as follows: and required the parties to submit their respective supplemental
briefs simultaneously, if they so desire, within 30 days from
PO1 Eduardo Roy prepared a pre-arranged report on the buy-bust notice.55 Both parties adopted their respective appellant’s and
operation to be conducted against appellant at Barangay San appellee’s briefs, instead of filing supplemental briefs.56
Vicente, Quezon City upon an informant’s tip that appellant was
selling "shabu" in the said area. On the other hand, PO3 Armando Our Ruling
Ragundiaz Rivera recorded the briefing, summary, identification of
appellant and the buy-bust money to be used in the operation Appellant claims that he should not be convicted of the offenses
consisting of one (1) fifty peso bill, two (2) twenty peso bill[s] and charged since his guilt has not been proven by the prosecution

81
beyond reasonable doubt.57 In support of his contention, appellant Section 21. Custody and Disposition of Confiscated, Seized, and/or
alleges that the arresting officers did not even place the proper Surrendered Dangerous Drugs, Plant Sources of Dangerous Drugs,
markings on the alleged shabu and paraphernalia at the time and Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals,
place of the alleged buy-bust operation.58 Appellant hence posits Instruments/Paraphernalia and/or Laboratory Equipment. – The
that this created serious doubt as to the items and actual quantity PDEA shall take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs,
of shabu recovered, if at all.59 plant sources or dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and
essential chemicals, as well as instruments/paraphernalia and/or
The Office of the Solicitor General, on the other hand, insists that laboratory equipment so confiscated, seized and or surrendered,
the direct testimony of the two arresting officers sufficiently for proper disposition in the following manner:
established the elements of illegal sale and possession of shabu.60
(1) The apprehending team having initial custody and control of the
At the outset, we draw attention to the unique nature of an appeal drugs shall, immediately after seizure and confiscation, physically
in a criminal case: the appeal throws the whole case open for inventory and photograph the same in the presence of the accused
review and it is the duty of the appellate court to correct, cite and or the persons/s from whom such items were confiscated and/or
appreciate errors in the appealed judgment whether they are seized, or his/her representative or counsel, a representative from
assigned or unassigned.61 On the basis of such review, we find the the media and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and any elected
present appeal meritorious. public official who shall be required to sign the copies of the
inventory and be given a copy thereof; x x x (Emphasis supplied)
Prevailing jurisprudence uniformly hold that the trial court’s
findings of fact, especially when affirmed by the CA, are, as a In People v. Partoza,67 we held that the identity of the corpus
general rule, entitled to great weight and will not be disturbed on delicti was not proven beyond reasonable doubt. In the said case,
appeal.62 However, this rule admits of exceptions and does not the apprehending policeman did not mark the seized drugs after he
apply where facts of weight and substance with direct and material arrested the appellant in the latter’s presence. Neither did he make
bearing on the final outcome of the case have been overlooked, an inventory and take a photograph of the confiscated items in the
misapprehended or misapplied.63 After due consideration of the presence of the appellant. There was no representative from the
records of this case, evidence presented and relevant law and media and the Department of Justice, or any elected public official
jurisprudence, we hold that this case falls under the exception. who participated in the operation and who were supposed to sign
an inventory of seized items and be given copies thereof. Hence,
In actions involving the illegal sale of dangerous drugs, the we held in the afore-cited case that there was no compliance with
following elements must first be established: (1) proof that the the statutory safeguards. In addition, while the apprehending
transaction or sale took place and (2) the presentation in court of policeman admitted to have in his possession the shabufrom the
the corpus delicti or the illicit drug as evidence.64 time the appellant was apprehended at the crime scene to the
police station, records are bereft of proof on how the seized items
were handled from the time they left the hands of the said police
On the other hand, in prosecutions for illegal possession of a officer.
dangerous drug, it must be shown that (1) the accused was in
possession of an item or an object identified to be a prohibited or
regulated drug, (2) such possession is not authorized by law, and We declared in People v. Orteza,68 that the failure to comply with
(3) the accused was freely and consciously aware of being in Paragraph 1, Section 21, Article II of RA 9165 implied a concomitant
possession of the drug.65 Similarly, in this case, the evidence of the failure on the part of the prosecution to establish the identity of
corpus delicti must be established beyond reasonable doubt.66 the corpus delicti:

With respect to corpus delicti, Section 21 of Republic Act (RA) No. In People v. Laxa, where the buy-bust team failed to mark the
9165 provides: confiscated marijuana immediately after the apprehension of the
accused, the Court held that the deviation from the standard
82
procedure in anti-narcotics operations produced doubts as to the A- Raising my left hand.
origins of the marijuana. Consequently, the Court concluded that
the prosecution failed to establish the identity of the corpus delicti. Q- And what happened next?

The Court made a similar ruling in People v. Kimura, where the A- My back up PO3 Rivera came.
Narcom operatives failed to place markings on the seized
marijuana at the time the accused was arrested and to observe the Q- What [did] your back up do when you raised your hand?
procedure and take custody of the drug.
A- He arrested Morales.
More recently, in Zarraga v. People, the Court held that the
material inconsistencies with regard to when and where the
markings on the shabu were made and the lack of inventory on the Q- What were you doing when he arrested Morales?
seized drugs created reasonable doubt as to the identity of
the corpus delicti. The Court thus acquitted the accused due to the A- I put the informant away from the scene.
prosecution's failure to indubitably show the identity of the shabu.
Q- And what happened next after that?
Likewise, in People v. Obmiranis,69 we acquitted the appellant due
to flaws in the conduct of the post-seizure custody of the A- We brought him to the police station.
dangerous drug allegedly recovered from the appellant, together
with the failure of the key persons who handled the same to testify Q- How about the shabu, what did you do with it?
on the whereabouts of the exhibit before it was offered in evidence
in court. A- We brought it to the crime lab.

In the instant case, it is indisputable that the procedures for the Q- How did you send it to crime lab?
custody and disposition of confiscated dangerous drugs, as
mandated in Section 21 of RA 9165, were not observed. The
records utterly failed to show that the buy-bust team complied with A- Shabu and paraphernalia recovered by my companion
these procedures despite their mandatory nature as indicated by from the suspect.
the use of "shall" in the directives of the law. The procedural lapse
is plainly evident from the testimonies of the two police officers Q- How many items were sent to the crime lab?
presented by the prosecution, namely: PO1 Roy and PO3 Rivera.
A- 2 shabu and paraphernalia.
PO1 Roy, in his testimony, failed to concretely identify the items
seized from the appellant. Moreover, he confirmed that they did not Q- What are the paraphernalia?
make a list of the items seized. The patent lack of adherence to the
procedural mandate of RA 9165 is manifest in his testimony, to wit: A- Foil, sir.

Fiscal Jurado Q- How many foil?

x x x You mentioned that you gave the pre-arranged signal, A- I cannot recall.
what is that?
Q- What happened to the accused in the police station?
Witness

83
A- He was investigated. Fiscal Jurado

Q- Do you know the accused? Q- There is another plastic sachet?

A- Yes, sir. Witness

Q- What is his name? A- Recovered.

A- Roldan Morales. Q- How about these two?

xxxx A- I was not the one who confiscated that.

Fiscal Jurado Q- What happened to the said item submitted to the crime
lab?
Q- If the said sachet and paraphernalia will be shown to you,
how would you be able to identify the said items? A- Positive, sir.

Witness xxxx

A- I could not recall "pare-pareho yung shabu" Fiscal Jurado

Atty. Mosing xxxx

I will object because that would be leading on the part of the Q- How about the specimen forwarded to the crime lab?
prosecution because he could not identify on what shabu.
Witness
Court
A- My companion brought that.
That question is overruled.
Q- What was your participation in the case?
Fiscal Jurado
A- Poseur buyer.
I am showing to you an item, would you be able to identify?
xxxx
Court
Atty. Mosing
Fiscal showing several shabu.
xxxx
WITNESS
Q- After the arrest you brought the suspect and the items to
A- This one. the station?
84
A- Yes, sir. Q- Who was the person you took x x x custody [of]?

Q- Did you not make a list of items you have confiscated in A- Roldan Morales
this case?
Q- And what did you do with him?
A- No, we turned it over to the investigator.
A- Because he ha[d] a marked money I got hold of it and
Q- You have presented the buy bust money a while ago, was arrest[ed] him.
that buy bust money suppose to be turned over to the
investigator? Q- And what did you do with him?

A- No, inquest. Upon request, I was the one who received A- I frisked him.
it.70 (Emphasis supplied)
Q- And what was the result of your frisking?
The testimony of the other arresting officer, PO3 Rivera
further confirms the failure of the buy-bust team to observe A- A box of match which I was able to recover [containing]
the procedure mandated under Section 21 of RA 9165: another suspected shabu.

Court Q- Where did you find that on his body?

Q- Where did you position yourself? A- Front [pocket of] pants.

Witness Q- How about the match?

A- Parked vehicle. A- The same.

Fiscal Jurado Q- What else did you find?

Q- What did you notice? A- Aluminum foil.

Witness Q- And after you recovered that evidence, what did you do
with the accused?
A- The confidential informant introduced our poseur buyer to
the suspect and after a few conversation I waited and I saw A- We informed him of his constitutional rights and brought
the pre-arranged signal. And when he raised his left hand him to the station.
that is the signal that the transaction is consummated.
Q- How about the items you recovered?
Q- After he made that signal, what did you do?
A- Delivered it to the crime lab for examination.
A- I rushed to the area and arrest[ed] the suspect.
Q- What else did you deliver [to] the crime lab?
85
A- Request, sir.71 (Emphasis supplied) their failure to observe the rule. In this respect, we cannot fault the
apprehending policemen either, as PO1 Roy admitted that he was
Other than PO1 Roy and PO3 Rivera, the prosecution did not not a PDEA operative74 and the other witness, PO3 Rivera, testified
present any other witnesses. Hence, the investigator, that he was not aware of the procedure involved in the conduct of
referred to by PO1 Roy in his testimony as the one who took anti-drug operations by the PNP.75 In fine, there is serious doubt
delivery of the seized items, was not identified nor was he whether the drug presented in court was the same drug recovered
presented in court. More importantly, the testifying police from the appellant. Consequently, the prosecution failed to prove
officers did not state that they marked the seized drugs beyond reasonable doubt the identity of the corpus delicti.1avvphi1
immediately after they arrested the appellant and in the
latter’s presence. Neither did they make an inventory and Furthermore, the evidence presented by the prosecution failed to
take a photograph of the confiscated items in the presence reveal the identity of the person who had custody and safekeeping
of the appellant. There was likewise no mention of any of the drugs after its examination and pending presentation in
representative from the media and the Department of court. Thus, the prosecution likewise failed to establish the chain of
Justice, or any elected public official who participated in the custody which is fatal to its cause.1avvphi1
operation and who were supposed to sign an inventory of
seized items and be given copies thereof. None of these In fine, the identity of the corpus delicti in this case was not proven
statutory safeguards were observed. beyond reasonable doubt. There was likewise a break in the chain
of custody which proves fatal to the prosecution’s case. Thus, since
Even PO1 Roy, the poseur-buyer, was not certain as to the the prosecution has failed to establish the element of corpus delicti
identity of the confiscated shabu, to wit: with the prescribed degree of proof required for successful
prosecution of both possession and sale of prohibited drugs, we
Fiscal Jurado: resolve to ACQUIT Roldan Morales y Midarasa.

Q- If the said sachet and paraphernalia will be shown to you, WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the Court of
how would you be able to identify the said items? Appeals dated April 24, 2006 in CA-G.R. CR-H.C. No. 00037
affirming the judgment of conviction of the Regional Trial Court of
Witness Quezon City, Branch 103 dated April 29, 2004 is hereby REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. Appellant Roldan Morales y Midarasa
is ACQUITTED based on reasonable doubt, and is ordered to be
A- I could not recall "pare-pareho yung shabu".72 immediately RELEASED from detention, unless he is confined for
any other lawful cause.
The procedural lapses in the handling and identification of the
seized items The Director of the Bureau of Corrections
is DIRECTED to IMPLEMENT this Decision and to report to this Court
collectively raise doubts as to whether the items presented in court the action taken hereon within five days from receipt.
were the exact same items that were confiscated from appellant
when he was apprehended. SO ORDERED.

While this Court recognizes that non-compliance by the buy-bust


team with Section 21 of RA 9165 is not fatal as long as there is a PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES
justifiable ground therefor, for and as long as the integrity and the vs.
evidentiary value of the siezed items are properly preserved by the FERNANDO HABANA y ORANTE
apprehending team,73 these conditions were not met in the case at G.R. No. 188900
bar. No explanation was offered by the testifying police officers for
86
March 5, 2010 be shabu. After PO1 Paras got the plastic sachet, he executed the
pre-arranged signal, introduced himself as a policeman, and
DECISION arrested Habana.9

ABAD, J.: Tayag rushed to the scene and helped Paras collar Habana. Tayag
searched Habana’s body and this yielded two more plastic sachets
This case is about whether the forensic examiner and the police containing what appeared to be shabu and the marked bills.10 The
investigator are indispensable witnesses in a drugs case to arresting officers handed over custody of his person and the items
establish the chain of custody over the substance seized from the seized from him to PO3 Fernando Moran, the investigator on duty,
accused. who placed his marking on them and submitted the same to the
Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory for forensic
examination.
The Facts and the Case
Forensic Chemist Police Inspector Erickson Calabocal submitted
On July 21, 2003 the public prosecutor of Caloocan City filed two Physical Science Report D-848-03, which revealed that the white
separate informations1 against the accused Fernando Habana crystalline substance contained in the plastic sachets tested
before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of that city in Criminal Cases positive for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, otherwise known as
C-68627 and C-68628 for violations of Sections 5 and 11, Article II "shabu."11
of Republic Act (R.A.) 9165, otherwise known as the
Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
At the pre-trial,12 the parties stipulated: 1) that the assigned
forensic chemist got the police request for laboratory examination
At the trial, the prosecution presented PO1 Fortunato Paras2 and of the specimen involved and, upon examination, found it positive
PO2 Amadeo Tayag.3 On the other hand, the defense called to the for methamphetamine hydrochloride13 and 2) that PO3 Fernando
witness stand the accused Habana and one Amelia Sevilla.4 Moran was the investigating officer assigned to the case to whom
the arresting officers turned over the accused as well as the three
The prosecution evidence shows that in the morning of July 17, plastic sachets and that it was he who prepared the referral
2003, members of the Anti-Illegal Drug Task Force Unit of the slip,14 sworn affidavit of the arresting officers,15 and the request for
Caloocan City Police Station met with an informant at Chowking laboratory examination16 of the specimen subject of this case.17
Restaurant in Sangandaan, Caloocan City. The informant told them
that a certain Loloy, later on identified as the accused Habana, was Accused Habana presented a different version. According to him,
selling shabu on Salmon Street.5 Acting on this, the group on the afternoon of July 17, 2003 he was on his way home when
proceeded to the place and staked it out.6 five to seven men in civilian clothes blocked his way. He asked
what the matter was and they replied that they had to search him.
After locating accused Habana, PO3 Rizalino Rangel held a short He resisted because he was not doing anything illegal. Still, the
briefing with his unit. They decided to undertake a buy-bust men frisked him and took five hundred pesos from his pocket. They
operation with PO1 Paras as poseur-buyer. Rangel told Paras to then brought him to the police station where he was detained.
scratch his head by way of signal after he had made a purchase of When his wife and sister came, the police officers told them to
drugs and handed over two pieces of fifty-peso bills that made up produce P20,000.00 for his freedom. When they failed to give the
the buy-bust money.7 Paras placed his initials "FP" on the money.8 amount, they charged him with illegal possession and sale of
shabu.18
Accompanied by the informant, Paras approached accused Habana
who asked them how much they wanted to buy. Paras handed over Amelia Sevilla testified that on the date of the incident, at around
the money to Habana who pocketed it. In turn, the latter handed 6:00 p.m., she was about to close her store when she saw two men
over to Paras one plastic sachet that contained what appeared to suddenly approach and frisk accused Habana who was just
87
standing near her store. Habana raised his hands and said, "Bakit The non-presentation of the informant cannot prejudice the
ano po ang kasalanan ko bakit ninyo ako kinakapkapan?" After the prosecution’s theory of the case. His testimony would merely be
men frisked him, they got the coins in his short pants pocket and corroborative since police officers Paras and Tayag who witnessed
then left with him. On the following day, Sevilla heard from her everything already testified. Besides, as a rule, it is rarely that the
neighbors that the police had arrested Habana. prosecutor would present the informant because of the need to
hide his identity and preserve his invaluable service to the police.22
On January 21, 2008, the trial court found Habana guilty of both
charges and sentenced him to a penalty of life imprisonment plus a The prosecution did not deliberately omit the presentation of the
fine of P500,000.00 in Criminal Case C-68627 and imprisonment for forensic chemist who examined the seized substance or the
12 years and 1 day to 14 years and a fine of P300,000.00 in investigating officer who was assigned to the case. As the trial
Criminal Case C-68628. court said in its decision, the prosecution wanted to present both as
witnesses but the parties chose instead to stipulate on the
Since one of the penalties imposed was life imprisonment, the case substance of their testimonies.23
was elevated to the Court of Appeals (CA) for review and
disposition pursuant to the ruling in People v. Mateo.19 Upon review, Accused Habana also insists that the RTC should not have admitted
the CA rendered a Decision20 on June 17, 2009, affirming in full the the laboratory report in evidence for failure of the forensic chemist
decision of the trial court. The case is on appeal to this Court. to testify. But, as the Office of the Solicitor General correctly
pointed out, the parties agreed at the pre-trial to dispense with
The Issues Presented such testimony and just stipulate that the police submitted the
drug specimens involved in the case to the crime laboratory for
Two issues are presented: analysis; that forensic chemist Calabocal examined it; that the
result was positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride; and that
this fact was as stated in Calabocal’s report. It is too late for
1. Whether or not the prosecution’s failure to present the Habana to now impugn the veracity of such report.
forensic chemist and the police investigator assigned to the
case is fatal to its case against accused Habana; and
Two. Accused Habana points out that, since the police officers
involved failed to adhere strictly to the requirements of Section
2. Whether or not the prosecution failed to establish the 21(1) of R.A. 9165, the evidence of the seized shabu cannot be
integrity of the seized substance taken from Habana along admitted against him.
the chain of custody.
In all prosecutions for the violation of The Dangerous Drugs Act, the
The Rulings of the Court existence of the prohibited drug has to be proved. 24 The chain of
custody rule requires that testimony be presented about every link
One. Habana points out that the prosecution’s failure to present at in the chain, from the moment the item was seized up to the time it
the trial the informant, the investigating officer, and the forensic is offered in evidence. To this end, the prosecution must ensure
chemist militates against the trustworthiness of the prosecution’s that the substance presented in court is the same substance seized
evidence. from the accused.

But no rule requires the prosecution to present as witness in a While this Court recognizes substantial adherence to the
drugs case every person who had something to do with the arrest requirements of R.A. 9165 and its implementing rules and
of the accused and the seizure of prohibited drugs from him. The regulations, not perfect adherence, is what is demanded of police
discretion on which witness to present in every case belongs to the officers attending to drugs cases,25 still, such officers must present
prosecutor.21 justifiable reason for their imperfect conduct and show that the
integrity and evidentiary value of the seized items had been
88
preserved. Here, however, they failed to meet these conditions. Since the failure in this case to comply with the procedure in the
The police officers offered no explanation for their failure to custody of seized drugs compromised the identity and integrity of
observe the chain of custody rule. the items seized, which is the corpus delicti of each of the crimes
charged against Habana, his acquittal is in order.
The prosecution failed to show how the seized items changed
hands, from when the police officers seized them from Habana to WHEREFORE, the Court GRANTS the petition, REVERSES and SETS
the time they were presented in court as evidence. PO1 Paras said ASIDE the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR-H.C.
that he turned over the sachets of shabu to the investigator on 03165 dated June 17, 2009 as well as the decision of the Regional
duty. But the prosecution did not adduce evidence on what the Trial Court of Caloocan City, Branch 120, in Criminal Cases C-68627
investigator on duty did with the seized articles, how these got to and C-68628, and ACQUITS the accused-appellant Fernando
the laboratory technician, and how they were kept before being Habana y Orante on the ground of reasonable doubt.
adduced in evidence at the trial.1avvphi1
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Director, Bureau of
Usually, the police officer who seizes the suspected substance Corrections, Muntinlupa City for immediate implementation. The
turns it over to a supervising officer, who would then send it by Director of the Bureau of Corrections is DIRECTED to report the
courier to the police crime laboratory for testing. Since it is action he has taken to this Court within five days from receipt of
unavoidable that possession of the substance changes hand a this Decision.
number of times, it is imperative for the officer who seized the
substance from the suspect to place his marking on its plastic SO ORDERED.
container and seal the same, preferably with adhesive tape that
cannot be removed without leaving a tear on the plastic container.
At the trial, the officer can then identify the seized substance and
the procedure he observed to preserve its integrity until it reaches
the crime laboratory.

If the substance is not in a plastic container, the officer should put


it in one and seal the same. In this way the substance would
assuredly reach the laboratory in the same condition it was seized
from the accused. Further, after the laboratory technician tests and
verifies the nature of the substance in the container, he should put
his own mark on the plastic container and seal it again with a new
seal since the police officer’s seal has been broken. At the trial, the
technician can then describe the sealed condition of the plastic
container when it was handed to him and testify on the procedure
he took afterwards to preserve its integrity.

If the sealing of the seized substance has not been made, the
prosecution would have to present every police officer, messenger,
laboratory technician, and storage personnel, the entire chain of
custody, no matter how briefly one’s possession has been. Each of
them has to testify that the substance, although unsealed, has not
been tampered with or substituted while in his care.

89
On January 16, 2000 the Romualdezes filed a motion to
dismiss the action on grounds of a) violation of their right to a
speedy disposition of their case; b) lack of jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan over the action; c) prematurity; d) prescription; and
e) litis pendentia. On September 11, 2002 the Sandiganbayan
denied the motion. It also denied on March 10, 2003 their
ALFREDO T. ROMUALDEZ subsequent motion for reconsideration.
vs
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN (THIRD DIVISION) and THE
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, On March 31, 2003 the Romualdezes next filed a motion for
G.R. No. 161602
preliminary investigation and to suspend proceedings.2[2] They
July 13, 2010
claim that since Civil Case 0167 was a forfeiture proceeding filed
DECISION
under R.A. 1379, the Ombudsman should have first conducted a
ABAD, J.: “previous inquiry similar to preliminary investigations in criminal
cases” before the filing of the case pursuant to Section 2 of the
This case is about the Ombudsman’s authority to conduct law.3[3]
preliminary investigation in a forfeiture case where the petitioner
allegedly amassed ill-gotten wealth before February 25, 1986. In its Comment4[4] on the motion, the Republic pointed out
that the Office of the Ombudsman in fact conducted such a
The Facts and the Case preliminary investigation in 1991 in OMB-0-91-08205[5] and issued
on January 22, 1992 a resolution, recommending the endorsement
On March 6, 1996 respondent Republic of the Philippines of the matter to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for the
(Republic) filed an action for the forfeiture of alleged unlawfully filing of the forfeiture case.
acquired property with the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case 0167
against petitioner Alfredo T. Romualdez and his wife Agnes Sison On August 13, 2003 the Sandiganbayan issued a resolution, 6
[6]
Romualdez as well as against Romson Realty, Inc., R & S Transport, denying the Romualdezes’ March 31, 2003 motion. It also denied
Inc., Fidelity Management, Inc., and Dio Island Resort, Inc. by resolution on December 3, 2003 their subsequent motion for
(collectively, the Romualdezes) pursuant to Republic Act (R.A.) 2
1379.1[1] 3
4
5
1 6
90
reconsideration.7[7] Thus, the Romualdezes filed the present absence. The spouses Alfredo and Agnes Romualdez were in the
petition for certiorari and prohibition, seeking to annul the United States when that investigation took place. They were thus
Sandiganbayan’s rulings and prevent it from further proceeding denied their right to be heard in that investigation.
with Civil Case 0167 until another preliminary investigation is
conducted in their case. But, as the Sandiganbayan correctly pointed out, quoting
Republic v. Sandiganbayan,9[9] the Ombudsman has under its
The Question Presented general investigatory powers the authority to investigate forfeiture
cases where the alleged ill-gotten wealth had been amassed before
The sole question presented in this case is whether or not February 25, 1986. Thus:
the preliminary investigation that the Ombudsman conducted in
OMB-0-91-0820 in 1991 satisfied the requirement of the law in Nonetheless, while we do not discount the
authority of the Ombudsman, we believe and so hold
forfeiture cases.
that the exercise of his correlative powers to both
investigate and initiate the proper action for the
recovery of ill-gotten and/or unexplained wealth is
The Ruling of the Court
restricted only to cases for the recovery of ill-gotten
and/or unexplained wealth which were amassed after
February 25, 1986. Prior to said date, the
The Romualdezes point out that the Office of the
Ombudsman is without authority to initiate such
Ombudsman should not have conducted an investigation of their forfeiture proceedings. We, however, uphold his
authority to investigate cases for the forfeiture or
case, since its authority to investigate ill-gotten or unexplained
recovery of such ill-gotten and/or unexplained wealth
wealth cases pertained only to wealth amassed after February 25, amassed even before the aforementioned date,
pursuant to his general investigatory power under
1986 and not before that date.8[8] Since the Romualdezes acquired
Section 15(1) of Republic Act No. 6770.10[10]
the allegedly ill-gotten wealth involved in their case as early as (Emphasis supplied)
1970, then the Ombudsman had no authority to conduct the
And, although it was the Ombudsman who conducted the
investigation that it did in OMB-0-91-0820. In the absence of a
preliminary investigation, it was the OSG that instituted the action
prior valid preliminary investigation, the forfeiture proceedings in
in Civil Case 0167 in line with the Court’s ruling in the above-cited
Civil Case 0167 cannot continue.
Republic and other cases that followed.

In addition, the Romualdezes insist that it was improper for


The Court cannot also subscribe to the Romualdezes’ claim
the Ombudsman to have conducted its investigation in their

7 9
8 10
91
that they are entitled to a new preliminary investigation since they the proceedings [in the preliminary investigation] the
presence of the accused for as long as efforts to
had no opportunity to take part in the one held in 1991, in OMB-0-
reach him were made, and an opportunity to
91-0820. They admit that the subpoena for that investigation had controvert the evidence of the complainant is
accorded him. The obvious purpose of the rule is to
been sent to their last known residence at the time it was
block attempts of unscrupulous respondents to
conducted.11[11] The Republic categorically insists that the thwart the prosecution of offenses by hiding
themselves or by employing dilatory tactics.”14[14]
appropriate subpoena had been served on the Romualdezes.12[12]

In sum, no reason exists for suspending or interrupting the


Actually, the lament of the spouses was that they left the
conduct of the forfeiture proceedings before the Sandiganbayan.
Philippines because of danger to their lives after the EDSA
revolution of February 1986 and so could not take part in the
WHEREFORE, the Court DISMISSES the petition for lack of
proceedings against them. While it is true that the Court
merit.
characterized the departure of the Romualdezes as forced upon
them by the uncertainty of the situation in 1986, it also said that
such was the case only until things shall have stabilized.13[13] The
SO ORDERED
Court will take judicial notice of the fact that the people’s
ratification of the 1987 Constitution on February 2, 1987 signaled
the return to normalcy of the political situation in the Philippines.
Consequently, the Romualdezes had no valid excuse for not
responding to the subpoena served on them at their last known
address in 1991, which they do not deny having received.

The Ombudsman could not be faulted for proceeding with


the investigation of the Romualdezes’ cases when they did not
show up despite notice being sent to them at their last known
residence. As the Court held in a case:

The New Rules on Criminal Procedure “does not


require as a condition sine qua non to the validity of

11
12
13 14
92
93