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SUPREME COURT REPORTS ANNOTATED VOLUME 516 7/6/17, 10:43 PM

VOL. 516, FEBRUARY 20, 2007 303


Cabarles vs. Maceda
*
G.R. No. 161330. February 20, 2007.

RENE CABARLES, petitioner, vs. HON. JUDGE


BONIFACIO SANZ MACEDA AND PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, respondents.

Criminal Procedure; Motion to Reopen Case; Requisites; A


motion to reopen a case to receive further proofs was not in the old
rules but it was nonetheless a recognized procedural recourse,
deriving validity and acceptance from long, established usage, which
deficiency was remedied by the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure
which took effect on 1 December 2000.A motion to reopen a case to
receive further proofs was not in the old rules but it was
nonetheless a recognized procedural recourse, deriving validity and
acceptance from long, established usage. This lack of a specific
provision covering motions to reopen was remedied by the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure which took effect on December 1, 2000.
The April 1, 2003 Order was issued under the Revised Rules of
Criminal Procedure. Section 24, Rule 119 and existing
jurisprudence stress the following requirements for reopening a
case: (1) the reopening must be before the finality of a judgment of
conviction; (2) the order is issued by the judge on his own initiative
or upon motion; (3) the order is issued only after a hearing is
conducted; (4) the order intends to prevent a miscarriage of justice;
and (5) the presentation of

_______________

* SECOND DIVISION.

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additional and/or further evidence should be terminated within


thirty days from the issuance of the order.
Same; Same; Due Process; The court, for good reasons, in the
furtherance of justice, may allow new evidence upon their original
case, and its ruling will not be disturbed in the appellate court
where no abuse of discretion appears, and the only controlling
guideline governing a motion to reopen is the paramount interest of
justice; While a judge is allowed to reopen a case before judgment is
rendered, a hearing must first be had, and where the judge does so
without notice and hearing and without giving the prosecution and
the accused an opportunity to manifest their position on the matter,
the same constitutes grave abuse of discretion and goes against the
due process clause of the Constitution.Generally, after the parties
have produced their respective direct proofs, they are allowed to
offer rebutting evidence only. However, the court, for good reasons,
in the furtherance of justice, may allow new evidence upon their
original case, and its ruling will not be disturbed in the appellate
court where no abuse of discretion appears. A motion to reopen may
thus properly be presented only after either or both parties had
formally offered and closed their evidence, but before judgment is
rendered, and even after promulgation but before finality of
judgment and the only controlling guideline governing a motion to
reopen is the paramount interest of justice. This remedy of
reopening a case was meant to prevent a miscarriage of justice.
However, while Judge Maceda is allowed to reopen the case before
judgment is rendered, Section 24 requires that a hearing must first
be conducted. Judge Maceda issued the April 1, 2003 Order without
notice and hearing and without giving the prosecution and accused
an opportunity to manifest their position on the matter. This
failure, to our mind, constitutes grave abuse of discretion and goes
against the due process clause of the Constitution which requires
notice and opportunity to be heard. The issuance of the said order,
without the benefit of a hearing, is contrary to the express language

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of Section 24, Rule 119.


Same; Same; Same; Waiver; Participation by the defense counsel
in cross-examining the witness for the prosecution and in the
proceedings after the case was reopened by the judge without prior
hearing does not amount to a waiver of the accuseds objection to the
order reopening the caseto be effective, a waiver must be certain
and unequivocal.Although the defense counsel had cross-
examined

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Pedrosa and had participated in the proceedings after the case was
reopened by Judge Maceda, the same does not amount to a waiver
of Cabarless objection to the April 1, 2003 Order. To be effective, a
waiver must be certain and unequivocal. Here, Cabarles filed the
present petition seeking for a writ of certiorari against Judge
Maceda before Pedrosa was cross-examined. Also, when asked to
comment on the prosecutions formal offer of evidence taken after
the case was reopened, Cabarles objected to its admission on the
ground that the same was inadmissible having been received by the
court after Judge Maceda issued the questioned order.
Same; Same; Same; Witnesses; Although the matter of reopening
a case for reception of further evidence is largely a matter of
discretion on the part of the trial court judge, this judicial action
must not, however, be done whimsically, capriciously and/or
unreasonably; The presence of prosecution witnesses in court is the
responsibility of the public prosecutor and it is incumbent upon him
to take the initiative of ensuring the attendance of his witnesses at
the trial. Although the matter of reopening a case for reception of
further evidence is largely a matter of discretion on the part of the
trial court judge, this judicial action must not, however, be done
whimsically, capriciously and/or unreasonably. In this particular
case, the prosecution was given ample opportunity to present all its
witnesses but it failed to do so. The failure of the prosecution to
take full advantage of the opportunities given does not change the
fact that it was accorded such opportunities. Contrary to the

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justification stated in the April 1, 2003 Order, the prosecution was


not deprived of its day in court. While it may be true that due to
some confusion with the trial courts calendar, some of the trial
dates assigned to the prosecution did not push through and some of
the subpoenas issued to Pedrosa and/or Dr. Salen pertained to
hearing dates which were different from those assigned for
reception of prosecutions evidence, still the prosecution had a total
of four hearing dates when it was given the chance to prove its case:
May 23, June 20 and 27, and August 1, 2001. The presence of
prosecution witnesses in court is the responsibility of the public
prosecutor and it is incumbent upon him to take the initiative of
ensuring the attendance of his witnesses at the trial.
Same; Same; Speedy Disposition of Cases; Nowhere is the
guaranty of right to speedy disposition of cases more significant and

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meaningful than in criminal cases where not only the fortune, but
the life and liberty of the accused as well, are at stake; The right to a
speedy disposition of a case, like the right to speedy trial, is deemed
violated only when the proceeding is attended by vexatious,
capricious, and oppressive delays; or when unjustified
postponements of the trial are asked for and secured, or when
without cause or justifiable motive, a long period of time is allowed
to elapse without the party having his case tried.On Cabarless
right to a speedy disposition of his case, we agree that under the
Constitution, all persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition
of their cases. Nowhere is this guaranty more significant and
meaningful than in criminal cases where not only the fortune, but
the life and liberty of the accused as well, are at stake. Although a
discussion on the right to speedy disposition of the case is mooted
by our nullification of Judge Macedas April 1, 2003 Order as having
been issued with grave abuse of discretion, we are constrained to
reiterate that the concept of speedy disposition is relative or
flexible. A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved is not
sufficient. Particular regard must be taken of the facts and

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circumstances peculiar to each case. The right to a speedy


disposition of a case, like the right to speedy trial, is deemed
violated only when the proceeding is attended by vexatious,
capricious, and oppressive delays; or when unjustified
postponements of the trial are asked for and secured; or when
without cause or justifiable motive, a long period of time is allowed
to elapse without the party having his case tried.
Courts; Hierarchy of Courts; The Supreme Court is a court of
last resort, and must so remain if it is to satisfactorily perform the
functions assigned to it by the Constitution and immemorial
tradition; A direct invocation of the Supreme Courts original
jurisdiction to issue the extraordinary writs should be allowed only
when there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and
specifically set out in the petition.It is necessary to stress that a
direct recourse to this Court is highly improper for it violates the
established policy of strict observance of the hierarchy of courts.
This Courts original jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari is
concurrent with the Court of Appeals and with the regional trial
courts in proper cases within their respective regions. However, this
concurrence of jurisdiction does not grant a party seeking any of the
extraordinary writs the absolute freedom to file his petition with
the court of his choice. This Court is a court of last resort, and must
so remain if it is to satisfac-

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torily perform the functions assigned to it by the Constitution and


immemorial tradition. The hierarchy of courts determines the
appropriate forum for such petitions. Thus, petitions for the
issuance of such extraordinary writs against a regional trial court
should be filed with the Court of Appeals. A direct invocation of this
Courts original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed
only when there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly
and specifically set out in the petition. This is the established policy.
It is a policy that is necessary to prevent inordinate demands upon
this Courts time and attention which are better devoted to those

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matters within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further


overcrowding of its docket.
Same; Same; The Supreme Court has full discretionary power to
take cognizance of a petition filed directly to it for compelling
reasons or if warranted by the nature of the issues raised.Under
the present circumstances however, we are willing to take
cognizance of this case as an exception to the principle of hierarchy
of courts. Cabarles invokes the jurisdiction of this Court in the
interest of speedy justice since the information against him was
filed way back in June 1999, and almost eight years thereafter, no
judgment has yet been rendered. Any further delay in the
resolution of the instant petition will be prejudicial to Cabarles.
Also, the Court has full discretionary power to take cognizance of
the petition filed directly to it for compelling reasons or if warranted
by the nature of the issues raised. Since Section 24 is a new
provision, and considering the irregularities in the issuance of the
April 1, 2003 Order, it is necessary to resolve the issues raised in
this petition.
Same; Remand of Cases; Due Process; To order the remand of a
criminal case to the court a quo to enable the prosecution to present
additional evidence would violate the constitutional right of the
accused to due process, and to speedy determination of his case.As
a final word, we find the Supreme Courts pronouncement in the
case of People v. Monje, 390 SCRA 160 (2002), instructive: A
proposal has been expressed for the remand of this case to the trial
court for further proceedings, apparently to enable the prosecution
to prove again what it failed to prove in the first instance. We
cannot agree because it will set a dangerous precedent. Aside from
its being unprocedural, it would open the floodgates to endless
litigations because whenever an accused is on the brink of acquittal
after trial,

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and realizing its inadequacy, the prosecution would insist to be


allowed to augment its evidence which should have been presented

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much earlier. This is a criminal prosecution, and to order the


remand of this case to the court a quo to enable the prosecution to
present additional evidence would violate the constitutional right of
the accused to due process, and to speedy determination of his case.
The lamentable failure of the prosecution to fill the vital gaps in its
evidence, while prejudicial to the State and the private offended
party, should not be treated by this Court with indulgence, to the
extent of affording the prosecution a fresh opportunity to refurbish
its evidence.

SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court.


Certiorari.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
Public Attorneys Office for petitioner.
The Solicitor General for respondent.

QUISUMBING, J.:

In an original action filed under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules


of Civil Procedure,
1
petitioner Rene Cabarles seeks to annul
the Order issued by respondent Judge Bonifacio Sanz
Maceda in Criminal Case No. 99-0878, entitled People of
the Philippines v. Rene Nonoy Cabarles y Adizas, for
murder, filed with the Regional Trial Court of Las Pias
City, Branch 275. The questioned Order dated April 1, 2003
cancelled the scheduled promulgation of judgment and
reopened the case for reception of evidence from two
prosecution witnesses who were not presented during trial.
The facts of the case are as follows:
On June 18, 1999, Cabarles was charged with murder
under the following information:

The undersigned Prosecutor II accuses RENE NONOY


CABARLES Y ADIZAS of the crime of Murder, committed as
follows:

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1 Rollo, pp. 14-15.

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Cabarles vs. Maceda

That on or about the 25th day of April, 1999, in the City of Las
Pias, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable
Court, the above-named accused, without justifiable motive with
intent to kill and by means of treachery and evident premeditation,
did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously attack,
assault, and stab with a deadly weapon (fan knife) one Antonio
Callosa, which directly caused his death.
2
CONTRARY TO LAW.

Cabarles pleaded not guilty. The trial court scheduled the


case for hearing on the following dates, to wit: pre-trial on
November 22, 2000; presentation of prosecutions evidence
on April 18, May 4, 11, 18, and 23, 2001; and presentation
of defense evidence
3
on June 20 and 27, July 4 and 18, and
August 1, 2001.
The prosecution had subpoenas issued to its witnesses:
Flocerfina Callosa, the mother of the deceased; Imelda
Pedrosa, the alleged eyewitness; Carlos Callosa, brother of
the deceased; and Dr. Romeo T. Salen, Police Senior
Inspector of the Southern Police District (SPD) Crime
Laboratory to testify on the contents of the death certificate
of Antonio Callosa.
Through no fault of its own, the prosecution was unable
to present its evidence on the first four hearing dates.
Instead, trial on the merits began only on May 23, 2001
when the prosecution called Carlos Callosa to the witness
stand. Since defense counsel agreed to stipulate that Carlos
would testify on matters in his May 13, 1999 Sinumpaang
Salaysay, his testimony was dispensed with.
The second prosecution witness, Police Inspector
Prudencio Parejos, was presented in court during the June
20, 2001 hearing. His testimony was likewise dispensed
with after defense counsel agreed to stipulate that Police
Inspector Parejos would testify on what was in the spot
report of the stab-

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2 Id., at p. 13.
3 Records, p. 37.

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bing incident. In the June 20, 2001 hearing, the


prosecution said it would offer its evidence and rest its case
should the People4 fail to present a witness at the next
scheduled hearing.
When the case was called on June 27, 2001, the
prosecution failed to present a witness. Neither Pedrosa
nor Dr. Salen appeared during the said hearing. Records
show that four subpoenas were issued to Pedrosa informing
5
her6 that she
7
had to appear on November
8
22, 2000, April
9
11 and 18, May 11 and June 20, and August 1, 2001. The
first subpoena was personally received by her; the second
subpoena by her husband, Salvador Pedrosa; and the third
and fourth subpoenas had no proofs of service. Meanwhile,
the three subpoenas 10issued to11 Dr. Salen 12
requiring his
attendance
13
on May 11 and 23, June 20, and August 1,
2001, were all returned with the notation addressee
moved. There was no evidence, however, that subpoenas
were issued to these two witnesses requiring their
attendance for the June 27, 2001 hearing, which would
explain why they were absent. Taking into consideration
the absence of a subpoena issued to Pedrosa and Dr. Salen
and notwithstanding the vehement objection registered by
Cabarles, Judge Maceda gave the prosecution a last chance
but warned:

It is however understood whether the subpoena is actually


issued and served or not upon the prosecution witnesses and service
of such subpoena or notice will not relieved (sic) the prosecution to
make a

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4 Id., at p. 66.
5 Id., at p. 41.
6 Id., at p. 47.
7 Supra note 5.
8 Id., at p. 55.

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9 Id., at p. 72.
10 Id., at p. 52.
11 Id., at p. 59.
12 Supra note 10.
13 Id., at p. 70.

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formal offer of evidence should the prosecution failed (sic) to present


14
any witness in the next scheduled hearing.

With no witness for the August 1, 2001 hearing, the


prosecution
15
rested its case and formally offered its
evidence.
Thereafter, Cabarles, with leave of court, filed 16 a
demurrer to evidence but it was denied by Judge Maceda.
Two witnesses were called for the defense, accused
Cabarles and Luisito Javier, a fisherman.
A day before the scheduled promulgation of judgment on
April 2, 2003, Judge Maceda motu proprio issued the
questioned order reopening the case. In it, he observed that
the prosecution may not have been given its day in court
resulting in a miscarriage of justice. He explained that
because there was a mix-up in the dates specified in the
subpoena and the hearing dates of when the case was
actually heard, the prosecution was unable to present its
evidence on the first four of the five hearing dates: April 18,
May 4, 11 and 18, 2001 assigned to it. Judge Maceda found
that there was no hearing conducted on April 18, 2001.
Thereafter, the subpoena issued to Pedrosa required her to
appear on April 11, 2001, which was not a date assigned for
the prosecution but May 11, 2001. Also, Judge Maceda
noted that another subpoena was issued to Pedrosa and Dr.
Salen requiring them to appear on May 11 and June 20,
2001. But, the May 11, 2001 hearing was reset to May 25,
2001 because the judge was indisposed, and insofar as the
June 20, 2001 setting was concerned, it was not one of the
days set by the court for the prosecution. Judge Maceda
further observed that the May 18, 2001 hearing was never

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scheduled and May 25, 2001 was likewise not a hearing


date set by the court. According to Judge Maceda, since the
prosecution was not able to present its evidence on the first
four hearing dates and there was

_______________

14 Id., at p. 68.
15 Id., at p. 74.
16 Id., at p. 91.

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either no return on the subpoenas subsequently issued or


there was no subpoena issued at all to Pedrosa and Dr.
Salen, the prosecution should have been given a last
chance to present the alleged eyewitness and the doctor.
His order in part read:

As a consequence[,] the promulgation set tomorrow, April 2, is


canceled. Set the reception of the testimony of the eye witness and
the doctor on May 1, 2003 at 2:00 [p.]m. to enable the prosecution to
avail [of] the last chance granted by this Court.
Issue the corresponding subpoena to Imelda Pedrosa and Dr.
Romeo T. Salen directing them to appear on the aforesaid date and
time, to be served by the Branch Sheriff who is required to make a
prompt return thereof.
17
SO ORDERED.

Judge Maceda denied Cabarless motion for reconsideration


in an Order dated April 25, 2003 and set the case for
hearing on May 8, 2003 to hear the testimonies of Pedrosa
and Dr. Salen. The subpoena18
issued to Pedrosa for that
hearing was duly served, but service upon Dr. Salen failed
since the doctor was no longer assigned to the SPD Crime
Laboratory. Notwithstanding the service upon Pedrosa, the
prosecution still failed to present a witness during the May
8, 2003 hearing. Nonetheless, Judge Maceda, upon motion,
again decided to extend to the prosecution another chance,

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giving the People


19
June 19 and July 3, 2003 as additional
hearing dates.
Finally, on June 19, 2003, Pedrosa took the witness
stand and completed her direct examination. A few days
thereafter, Cabarles filed the present petition questioning
Judge Macedas order, alleging that it was issued with
grave abuse of discretion. Since trial in the lower court
continued, on July 3, 2003, the Public Attorneys Office
conducted its crossexamination of Pedrosa.

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17 Rollo, p. 15.
18 Records, pp. 133-134.
19 Id., at p. 136.

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On July 24, 2003, the defense counsel agreed on the facts


contained in the death certificate of the victim, so the
testimony of Dr. Salen was dispensed with. Thereafter,
Judge Maceda set the date for the reception of evidence on
the civil aspect of the criminal case on August 14, 2003,
when Carlos, 20the deceaseds brother, was recalled to the
witness stand.
Cabarles was then given a chance to adduce further
evidence on his behalf.
On August 9, 2004, Judge Maceda deferred the
promulgation of judgment and ordered the 21
case archived
pending this Courts resolution of the case.
In his petition, Cabarles raises as issues the following:

[1] WHETHER THE RESPONDENT HONORABLE


JUDGE GRAVELY ABUSED HIS DISCRETION
WHEN HE ISSUED THE QUESTIONED ORDER
DESPITE THE ABSENCE OF A FINAL
JUDGMENT OF CONVICTION.
[2] WHETHER PETITIONERS RIGHT TO DUE
PROCESS AND SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF HIS

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22
CASE WAS VIOLATED.

Did Judge Maceda act with grave abuse of discretion in


issuing motu proprio the April 1, 2003 Order reopening the
case, before judgment was rendered, to receive the
testimonies of two prosecution witnesses after both parties
had rested their case? Did the said order violate Cabarless
right to due process and speedy disposition of his case?
On the first issue, Cabarles insists that Judge Maceda
gravely abused his discretion when he ordered the
reopening of the case before promulgation of judgment
although both parties had already rested their case.
Cabarles argues that a case may only be reopened after a
judgment of conviction has

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20 Id., at p. 172.
21 Id., at p. 223.
22 Rollo, p. 85.

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Cabarles vs. Maceda

been
23
made but before its finality, as provided in Section
24, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Cabarles insists that the reopening of a case under Section
24 presupposes that judgment has already been
promulgated, which is not the case here. According to
petitioner, the cases cited by the People are not at all
applicable in this case since they were tried and decided
before the introduction of Section 24 under the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure.
For Judge Maceda, the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG) contends that Section 24 is a new provision which
merely formalized the long accepted practice of judges of
reopening a case to avoid a miscarriage of justice. This
being the case, jurisprudence providing that a judge has
the discretion to reopen a case even before promulgation of

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judgment still holds.


After a thorough consideration of the submissions by the
parties, we find that the petition is meritorious.
A motion to reopen a case to receive further proofs was
not in the old rules but it was nonetheless a recognized
procedural recourse, deriving
24
validity and acceptance from
long, established usage. This lack of a specific provision
covering motions to reopen was remedied by the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure which took effect on December
1, 2000.
The April 1, 2003 Order was issued under the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure. Section 24, Rule 119 and
existing jurisprudence stress the following requirements
for reopening a case: (1) the reopening must be before the
finality of a judgment of conviction; (2) the order is issued
by the judge

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23 SEC. 24. Reopening.At any time before finality of the judgment of


conviction, the judge may, motu proprio or upon motion, with hearing in
either case, reopen the proceedings to avoid a miscarriage of justice. The
proceedings shall be terminated within thirty (30) days from the order
granting it.
24 Alegre v. Reyes, No. L-56923, May 9, 1988, 161 SCRA 226, 231.

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on his own initiative or upon motion; (3) the order is issued


only after a hearing is conducted; (4) the order intends to
prevent a miscarriage of justice; and (5) the presentation of
additional and/or further evidence should be terminated
within thirty days from the issuance of the order.
Generally, after the parties have produced their
respective direct proofs, they are allowed to offer rebutting
evidence only. However, the court, for good reasons, in the
furtherance of justice, may allow new evidence upon their
original case, and its ruling will not be disturbed in 25the
appellate court where no abuse of discretion appears. A

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motion to reopen may thus properly be presented only after


either or both parties had formally offered 26and closed their
evidence, but before judgment is rendered, 27 and even after
promulgation but before finality of judgment and the only
controlling guideline governing28
a motion to reopen is the
paramount interest of justice. This remedy of reopening
29
a
case was meant to prevent a miscarriage of justice.
However, while Judge Maceda is allowed to reopen the
case before judgment is rendered, Section 24 requires that
a hearing must first be conducted. Judge Maceda issued
the April 1, 2003 Order without notice and hearing and
without giving the prosecution and accused an opportunity
to manifest their position on the matter. This failure, to our
mind, constitutes

_______________

25 Gacayan v. Pamintuan, A.M. No. RTJ-99-1483 (OCA-I.P.I. No. 98-


578-RTJ), September 17, 1999, 314 SCRA 682, 694; People v. Castro-
Bartolome, G.R. No. 45037, November 21, 1991, 204 SCRA 38, 42.
26 Alegre v. Reyes, supra note 24; II F. Regalado, Remedial Law
Compendium 551 (10th ed., 2004), citing People v. Concepcion, 84 Phil.
787, 788 (1949).
27 REVISED RULES OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, Rule 119, Sec. 24;
II F. Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, supra.
28 People v. Tee, G.R. Nos. 140546-47, January 20, 2003, 395 SCRA
419, 444.
29 II F. Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, supra.

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Cabarles vs. Maceda

grave abuse of discretion and goes against the due process


clause of the Constitution
30
which requires notice and
opportunity to be heard. The issuance of the said order,
without the benefit of a hearing, is contrary to the express
language of Section 24, Rule 119.
Although the defense counsel had cross-examined
Pedrosa and had participated in the proceedings after the
case was reopened by Judge Maceda, the same does not

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amount to a waiver of Cabarless objection to the April 1,


2003 Order. 31To be effective, a waiver must be certain and
unequivocal. Here, Cabarles filed the present petition
seeking for a writ of certiorari against Judge Maceda before
Pedrosa was crossexamined. Also, when asked to comment
on the prosecutions formal offer of evidence taken after the
case was reopened, Cabarles objected to its admission on
the ground that the same was inadmissible having been
received by the court after Judge Maceda issued the
questioned order.
On the second issue, Cabarles maintains that contrary
to Judge Macedas observation, the prosecution was given
ample opportunity to present its case as seen by the
issuance of several subpoenas to Pedrosa and Dr. Salen.
Cabarles argues that he is presumed innocent until proven
guilty and should not be made to wait indefinitely for
prosecution witnesses to testify. To do so would violate his
constitutional right to due process and a speedy disposition
of his case. According to Cabarles, the reopening of the case
is clearly detrimental to him since it meant another day in
prison.
The OSG counters that the reopening of the case was
made in accordance with Section 24 since the prosecution is
entitled to the reopening of the case to prevent a
miscarriage of justice. Furthermore, Cabarless right to a
speedy trial had not

_______________

30 See Lam v. Chua, G.R. No. 131286, March 18, 2004, 426 SCRA 29,
40.
31 Larranaga v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 130644, March 13, 1998,
287 SCRA 581, 591.

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been violated since delays caused by the absence of a


prosecution witness are excluded when computing 32
the time
within which trial should start under Section 3, Rule 119

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of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.

_______________

32 SEC. 3. Exclusions.The following periods of delay shall be


excluded in computing the time within which trial must commence:

(a) Any period of delay resulting from other proceedings concerning the
accused, including but not limited to the following:

(1) Delay resulting from an examination of the physical and mental


condition of the accused;
(2) Delay resulting from proceedings with respect to other criminal charges
against the accused;
(3) Delay resulting from extraordinary remedies against interlocutory
orders;
(4) Delay resulting from pre-trial proceedings; provided, that the delay does
not exceed thirty (30) days;
(5) Delay resulting from orders of inhibition, or proceedings relating to
change of venue of cases or transfer from other courts;
(6) Delay resulting from a finding of the existence of a prejudicial question;
and
(7) Delay reasonably attributable to any period, not to exceed thirty (30)
days, during which any proceeding concerning the accused is actually
under advisement.

(b) Any period of delay resulting from the absence or unavailability of an


essential witness.

For purposes of this subparagraph, an essential witness shall be considered


absent when his whereabouts are unknown or his whereabouts cannot be
determined by due diligence. He shall be considered unavailable whenever his
whereabouts are known but his presence for trial cannot be obtained by due
diligence.

(c) Any period of delay resulting from the mental incompetence or physical
inability of the accused to stand trial.

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Although the matter of reopening a case for reception of


further evidence is largely a matter of discretion on the
part of the trial court judge, this judicial action must not,
however, be 33 done whimsically, capriciously and/or
unreasonably. In this particular case, the prosecution was
given ample opportunity to present all its witnesses but it
failed to do so. The failure of the prosecution to take full
advantage of the opportunities given does not change the
fact that it was accorded such opportunities. Contrary to
the justification stated in the April 1, 2003 Order, the
prosecution was not deprived of its day in court. While it
may be true that due to some confusion with the trial
courts calendar, some of the trial dates assigned to the
prosecution did not push through and some of the
subpoenas issued to Pedrosa and/or Dr. Salen pertained to
hearing dates which were different from those assigned for
reception of prosecutions evidence, still the prosecution
had a total of four hearing dates when it was given the
chance to prove its case: May 23, June 20 and 27, and
August 1, 2001. The presence of prosecution witnesses in
court is the respon-

_______________

(d) If the information is dismissed upon motion of the prosecution


and thereafter a charge is filed against the accused for the same
offense, any period of delay from the date the charge was
dismissed to the date the time limitation would commence to run
as to the subsequent charge had there been no previous charge.
(e) A reasonable period of delay when the accused is joined for trial
with a co-accused over whom the court has not acquired
jurisdiction, or, as to whom the time for trial has not run and no
motion for separate trial has been granted.
(f) Any period of delay resulting from a continuance granted by any
court motu proprio, or on motion of either the accused or his
counsel, or the prosecution, if the court granted the continuance
on the basis of its findings set forth in the order that the ends of
justice served by taking such action outweigh the best interest of
the public and the accused in a speedy trial.

33 Gacayan v. Pamintuan, supra note 25, at p. 695.

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Cabarles vs. Maceda

sibility of the public prosecutor and it is incumbent upon


him to take the initiative
34
of ensuring the attendance of his
witnesses at the trial.
Since Judge Maceda issued the questioned order without
complying with the third requirement of Section 24, that
there be a hearing conducted before the order to reopen is
issued, then the assailed order must be annulled and set
aside for having been issued contrary35 to law and
consequently with grave abuse of discretion.
On Cabarless right to a speedy disposition of his case,
we agree that under the Constitution, all persons shall
have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases.
Nowhere is this guaranty more significant and meaningful
than in criminal cases where not only the fortune,36 but the
life and liberty of the accused as well, are at stake.
Although a discussion on the right to speedy disposition
of the case is mooted by our nullification of Judge Macedas
April 1, 2003 Order as having been issued with grave abuse
of discretion, we are constrained to reiterate that the
concept of speedy disposition is relative or flexible. A mere
mathematical reckoning of the time involved is not
sufficient. Particular regard must be37taken of the facts and
circumstances peculiar to each case. The right to a speedy
disposition of a case, like the right to speedy trial, is
deemed violated only when the proceeding is attended by
vexatious, capricious, and oppressive delays; or when
unjustified postponements of the trial

_______________

34 People v. Monje, G.R. No. 146689, September 27, 2002, 390 SCRA
160, 174.
35 See Information Technology Foundation of the Philippines v.
Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 159139, January 13, 2004, 419 SCRA
141, 148.
36 Clave v. Sandiganbayan, et al., G.R. No. 102502 and Cruz, Jr. v.
Sandiganbayan, et al., G.R. No. 103143, June 19, 2001, p. 5 (Unsigned
Resolution).

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37 Dela Pea v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 144542, June 29, 2001, 360
SCRA 478, 485.

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Cabarles vs. Maceda

are asked for and secured; or when without cause or


justifiable motive, a long period of time38is allowed to elapse
without the party having his case tried.
With regard to the OSGs allegation in its Comment and
Memorandum, that Cabarles failed to observe the rule on
hierarchy of courts since the petition for certiorari was filed
directly with the Supreme Court, Cabarles insists that he
is a detention prisoner needing immediate resolution of his
case. He also argues that this case not only involves grave
abuse of discretion but also a pure question of law
involving 39the application of Section 24, which is a new
provision.
It is necessary to stress that a direct recourse to this
Court is highly improper for it violates the established
policy of strict observance of the hierarchy of courts. This
Courts original jurisdiction to issue a writ of certiorari is
concurrent with the Court of Appeals and with the regional
trial courts in proper cases within their respective regions.
However, this concurrence of jurisdiction does not grant a
party seeking any of the extraordinary writs the absolute
freedom to file his petition with the court of his choice. This
Court is a court of last resort, and must so remain if it is to
satisfactorily perform the functions assigned to it by the
Constitution and immemorial tradition. The hierarchy of
courts determines the appropriate forum for such petitions.
Thus, petitions for the issuance of such extraordinary writs
against a regional trial court should be filed with the Court
of Appeals. A direct invocation of this Courts original
jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only
when there are special and important reasons therefor,
clearly and specifically set out in the petition. This is the
established policy. It is a policy that is necessary to prevent
inordinate demands upon this Courts time and attention
which are better devoted to those matters

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38 Dela Rosa v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 116945, February 9, 1996,


253 SCRA 499, 504, citing Gonzales v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 94750,
July 16, 1991, 199 SCRA 298, 307.
39 Rollo, pp. 51-52, 100-102.

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Cabarles vs. Maceda

within its exclusive jurisdiction,


40
and to prevent further
overcrowding of its docket.
Under the present circumstances however, we are
willing to take cognizance of this case as an exception to
the principle of hierarchy of courts. Cabarles invokes the
jurisdiction of this Court in the interest of speedy justice
since the information
41
against him was filed way back in
June 1999, and almost eight years thereafter, no
judgment has yet been rendered. Any further delay in the
resolution of the instant petition will be prejudicial to
Cabarles. Also, the Court has full discretionary power to
take cognizance of the petition filed directly to it for
compelling reasons
42
or if warranted by the nature of the
issues raised. Since Section 24 is a new provision, and
considering the irregularities in the issuance of the April 1,
2003 Order, it is necessary to resolve the issues raised in
this petition.
As a final word, we find the Supreme Courts
pronouncement in the case of People v. Monje instructive:

A proposal has been expressed for the remand of this case to the
trial court for further proceedings, apparently to enable the
prosecution to prove again what it failed to prove in the first
instance. We cannot agree because it will set a dangerous
precedent. Aside from its being unprocedural, it would open the
floodgates to endless litigations because whenever an accused is on
the brink of acquittal after trial, and realizing its inadequacy, the
prosecution would insist to be allowed to augment its evidence
which should have been presented much earlier. This is a criminal
prosecution, and to order the remand of this case to the court a quo

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to enable the prosecution to present additional evidence would


violate the constitutional right of the accused to due process, and to
speedy determination of his case. The lamentable failure of the
prosecution to fill

_______________

40 Page-Tenorio v. Tenorio, G.R. No. 138490, November 24, 2004, 443


SCRA 560, 567-568.
41 Records, p. 1; Rollo, p. 13.
42 Ark Travel Express, Inc v. Abrogar, G.R. No. 137010, August 29,
2003, 410 SCRA 148, 157.

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Cabarles vs. Maceda

the vital gaps in its evidence, while prejudicial to the State and the
private offended party, should not be treated by this Court with
indulgence, to the extent of affording the prosecution a fresh
opportunity to refurbish its evidence.
In fine, we are not unmindful of the gravity of the crime charged;
but justice must be dispensed with an even hand. Regardless of how
much we want to punish the perpetrators of this ghastly crime and
give justice to the victim and her family, the protection provided by
the Bill of Rights is bestowed upon all individuals, without
exception, regardless of race, color, creed, gender or political
persuasionwhether privileged or less privilegedto be invoked
without fear or favor. Hence, the accused deserves no less than an
acquittal; ergo, he is not called upon to disprove what the
43
prosecution has not proved.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. We hold


that the assailed Order dated April 1, 2003 was issued with
grave abuse of discretion. Said Order is hereby
ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, any evidence
received and offered in this case as a result of the April 1,
2003 Order is hereby stricken off the record. Let the
records of this case be REMANDED immediately to the
trial court concerned for its appropriate action without
further delay. No pronouncement as to costs.

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SO ORDERED.

Carpio, Carpio-Morales, Tinga and Velasco, Jr., JJ.,


concur.

Petition granted, assailed order annulled and set aside.


Records remanded to trial court.

Notes.Where the trial court judge was well aware of


the nature of the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses
that have so far been presented, and that the evidence for
the prosecution was insufficient to convict, he, motu
proprio,

_______________

43 Supra note 34, at pp. 179-180.

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Small vs. Banares

should have called additional witnesses for the prosecution


for the purpose of questioning them himself in order to
satisfy his mind with reference to particular facts or issues
involved in the case. (Merciales vs. Court of Appeals, 379
SCRA 345 [2002])
A trial court is not in error if it opts to reopen the
proceedings of a case, even after both sides had rested and
the case submitted for decision, by the calling of additional
witnesses or recalling of witnesses so as to satisfy the
judges mind with reference to particular facts involved in
the casea judge cannot be faulted should he require a
material witness to complete his testimony. (People vs. Tee,
395 SCRA 419 [2003])

o0o

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