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CIVIL LAW REVIEW I

Prepared by: Claudine Sumalinog (XU LAW-LLB)

ARTICLE 32

ABERCA vs VER

FACTS:

This case stems from alleged illegal searches and seizures and other violations of the rights and liberties of
plaintiffs by various intelligence units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, known as Task Force
Makabansa (TFM) ordered by General Fabian Ver "to conduct pre-emptive strikes against known communist-
terrorist (CT) underground houses in view of increasing reports about CT plans to sow disturbances in Metro
Manila,"

Plaintiffs allege, among others, that complying with said order, elements of the TFM raided several places,
employing in most cases defectively issued judicial search warrants; that during these raids, certain members
of the raiding party confiscated a number of purely personal items belonging to plaintiffs; that plaintiffs were
arrested without proper warrants issued by the courts; that for some period after their arrest, they were denied
visits of relatives and lawyers; that plaintiffs were interrogated in violation of their rights to silence and counsel;
that military men who interrogated them employed threats, tortures and other forms of violence on them in
order to obtain incriminatory information or confessions and in order to punish them; that all violations of
plaintiffs constitutional rights were part of a concerted and deliberate plan to forcibly extract information and
incriminatory statements from plaintiffs and to terrorize, harass and punish them, said plans being previously
known to and sanctioned by defendants.

The Regional Trial Court granted the motion to dismiss:

(1) the plaintiffs may not cause a judicial inquiry into the circumstances of their detention in the guise of a
damage suit because, as to them, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended;

(2) that assuming that the court can entertain the present action, defendants are immune from liability for acts
done in the performance of their official duties; and

(3) that the complaint states no cause of action against defendants, since there is no allegation that the
defendants named in the complaint confiscated plaintiffs' purely personal properties in violation of their
constitutional rights, and with the possible exception of Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Sergeant Bienvenido
Balabo committed acts of torture and maltreatment, or that the defendants had the duty to exercise direct
supervision and control of their subordinates or that they had vicarious liability as employers under Article
2180 of the Civil Code.

ISSUES:

1. Whether defendants are immune from liability for acts done in the performance of their official duties
2. Whether the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus bars a civil action for damages
for illegal searches conducted by military personnel and other violations of rights and liberties
guaranteed under the Constitution.
3. If such action for damages may be maintained, who can be held liable for such violations: only the
military personnel directly involved and/or their superiors as well.

RULING:

1. NO.

CONTENTION:

Seeking to justify the dismissal of plaintiffs' complaint, the respondents postulate the view that as public
officers they are covered by the mantle of state immunity from suit for acts done in the performance of official
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duties or function. According to respondents-defendants, they merely obeyed the lawful orders of the
President and his call for the suppression of the rebellion involving petitioners enjoy such immunity from Suit.

SC:

We find respondents' invocation of the doctrine of state immunity from suit totally misplaced. The
cases invoked by respondents actually involved acts done by officers in the performance of official
duties written the ambit of their powers.

It may be that the respondents, as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, were merely
responding to their duty, as they claim, "to prevent or suppress lawless violence, insurrection, rebellion
and subversion" in accordance with Proclamation No. 2054 of President Marcos, despite the lifting of
martial law on January 27, 1981, and in pursuance of such objective, to launch pre- emptive strikes
against alleged communist terrorist underground houses.

But this cannot be construed as a blanket license or a roving commission untramelled by any
constitutional restraint, to disregard or transgress upon the rights and liberties of the individual
citizen enshrined in and protected by the Constitution. The Constitution remains the supreme law of
the land to which all officials, high or low, civilian or military, owe obedience and allegiance at all
times.

Article 32 of the Civil Code which renders any public officer or employee or any private individual
liable in damages for violating the Constitutional rights and liberties of another, as enumerated
therein, does not exempt the respondents from responsibility. Only judges are excluded from liability
under the said article, provided their acts or omissions do not constitute a violation of the Penal Code
or other penal statute.

This is not to say that military authorities are restrained from pursuing their assigned task or carrying out their
mission with vigor. We have no quarrel with their duty to protect the Republic from its enemies, whether of
the left or of the right, or from within or without, seeking to destroy or subvert our democratic institutions and
imperil their very existence. What we are merely trying to say is that in carrying out this task and
mission, constitutional and legal safeguards must be observed, otherwise, the very fabric of our faith
will start to unravel. In the battle of competing Ideologies, the struggle for the mind is just as vital as the
struggle of arms. The linchpin in that psychological struggle is faith in the rule of law. Once that faith is lost
or compromised, the struggle may well be abandoned.

2. NO.

SC found merit in petitioners' contention that the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas
corpus does not destroy petitioners' right and cause of action for damages for illegal arrest and
detention and other violations of their constitutional rights. The suspension does not render valid an
otherwise illegal arrest or detention. What is suspended is merely the right of the individual to seek
release from detention through the writ of habeas corpus as a speedy means of obtaining his liberty.

Petitioners have a point in contending that even assuming that the suspension of the privilege of the writ of
habeas corpus suspends petitioners' right of action for damages for illegal arrest and detention, it does not
and cannot suspend their rights and causes of action for injuries suffered because of respondents'
confiscation of their private belongings, the violation of their right to remain silent and to counsel and their
right to protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and against torture and other cruel and
inhuman treatment.

3. Their superiors as well

May a superior officer under the notion of respondent superior be answerable for damages, jointly and
severally with his subordinates, to the person whose constitutional rights and liberties have been violated?
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Respondents contend that the doctrine of respondent superior is applicable to the case. We agree.

The doctrine of respondent superior has been generally limited in its application to principal and
agent or to master and servant (i.e. employer and employee) relationship. No such relationship exists
between superior officers of the military and their subordinates.

Be that as it may, however, the decisive factor in this case, in our view, is the language of Article 32.
The law speaks of an officer or employee or person 'directly' or "indirectly" responsible for the
violation of the constitutional rights and liberties of another. Thus, it is not the actor alone (i.e. the
one directly responsible) who must answer for damages under Article 32; the person indirectly
responsible has also to answer for the damages or injury caused to the aggrieved party.

By this provision, the principle of accountability of public officials under the Constitution 5 acquires added
meaning and asgilrnes a larger dimension. No longer may a superior official relax his vigilance or abdicate
his duty to supervise his subordinates, secure in the thought that he does not have to answer for the
transgressions committed by the latter against the constitutionally protected rights and liberties of the citizen.
Part of the factors that propelled people power in February 1986 was the widely held perception that the
government was callous or indifferent to, if not actually responsible for, the rampant violations of human
rights. While it would certainly be go naive to expect that violators of human rights would easily be
deterred by the prospect of facing damage suits, it should nonetheless be made clear in no one’s
terms that Article 32 of the Civil Code makes the persons who are directly, as well as indirectly,
responsible for the transgression joint tortfeasors.

In the case at bar, the trial court dropped defendants General Fabian Ver, Col. Fidel Singson, Col.
Rolando Abadilla, Col. Gerardo Lantoria, Jr., Col. Galileo Kintanar, Col. Panfilo Lacson, Capt. Danilo
Pizarro, lst Lt. Pedro Tango, Lt. Romeo Ricardo and Lt. Ricardo Bacalso from the acts of their
subordinates. Only Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Master Sgt. Bienvenido Balaba were kept as
defendants on the ground that they alone 'have been specifically mentioned and Identified to have
allegedly caused injuries on the persons of some of the plaintiff which acts of alleged physical
violence constitute a delict or wrong that gave rise to a cause of action. But such finding is not
supported by the record, nor is it in accord with law and jurisprudence.

Firstly, it is wrong to at the plaintiffs' action for damages Section 1, Article 19. to 'acts of alleged physical
violence" which constituted delict or wrong. Article 32 clearly specifies as actionable the act of violating or in
any manner impeding or impairing any of the constitutional rights and liberties enumerated therein, among
others —

1. Freedom from arbitrary arrest or illegal detention;

2. The right against deprivation of property without due process of law;

3. The right to be secure in one's person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable
searches and seizures;

4. The privacy of communication and correspondence;

5. Freedom from being compelled to be a witness against one's self, or from being forced to
confess guilt, or from being induced by a promise of immunity or reward to make a confession,
except when the person confessing becomes a state witness.

The complaint in this litigation alleges facts showing with abundant clarity and details, how plaintiffs'
constitutional rights and liberties mentioned in Article 32 of the Civil Code were violated and impaired by
defendants. The complaint speaks of, among others, searches made without search warrants or based on
irregularly issued or substantially defective warrants; seizures and confiscation, without proper receipts, of
cash and personal effects belonging to plaintiffs and other items of property which were not subversive and
illegal nor covered by the search warrants; arrest and detention of plaintiffs without warrant or under irregular,
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improper and illegal circumstances; detention of plaintiffs at several undisclosed places of 'safehouses"
where they were kept incommunicado and subjected to physical and psychological torture and other
inhuman, degrading and brutal treatment for the purpose of extracting incriminatory statements. The
complaint contains a detailed recital of abuses perpetrated upon the plaintiffs violative of their constitutional
rights.

Secondly, neither can it be said that only those shown to have participated "directly" should be held liable.
Article 32 of the Civil Code encompasses within the ambit of its provisions those directly, as well as indirectly,
responsible for its violation.

The responsibility of the defendants, whether direct or indirect, is amply set forth in the complaint. It
is well established in our law and jurisprudence that a motion to dismiss on the ground that the
complaint states no cause of action must be based on what appears on the face of the complaint. 6 To
determine the sufficiency of the cause of action, only the facts alleged in the complaint, and no others,
should be considered. For this purpose, the motion to dismiss must hypothetically admit the truth of
the facts alleged in the complaint. 8

Applying this test, it is difficult to justify the trial court's ruling, dismissing for lack of cause of action the
complaint against all the defendants, except Major Rodolfo Aguinaldo and Master Sgt. Bienvenido
Balaba. The complaint contained allegations against all the defendants which, if admitted
hypothetically, would be sufficient to establish a cause or causes of action.
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UNJUST ENRICHMENT

GARCIA vs. PAL

The case stemmed from the administrative charge filed by PAL against its employees-herein
petitioners after they were allegedly caught in the act of sniffing shabu when a team of company
security personnel and law enforcers raided the PAL Technical Centers Toolroom Section on July 24,
1995.

PAL dismissed petitioners prompting them to file a complaint for illegal dismissal and damages
which was resolved by the Labor Arbiter in their favor, thus ordering PAL to, inter alia, immediately
comply with the reinstatement aspect of the decision.

From the Labor Arbiters decision, respondent appealed to the NLRC which said decision
and dismissed petitioner’s complaint for lack of merit.

ISSUE:
Whether petitioners may collect their wages during the period between the Labor Arbiters order of
reinstatement pending appeal and the NLRC decision overturning that of the Labor Arbiter

RULING:
YES.

The Courts attention is drawn to seemingly divergent decisions concerning reinstatement pending appeal
or, particularly, the option of payroll reinstatement. At the core of the seeming divergence is the application
of paragraph 3 of Article 223 of the Labor Code which reads:

In any event, the decision of the Labor Arbiter reinstating a dismissed or separated employee,
insofar as the reinstatement aspect is concerned, shall immediately be executory, pending
appeal. The employee shall either be admitted back to work under the same terms and
conditions prevailing prior to his dismissal or separation or, at the option of the employer,
merely reinstated in the payroll. The posting of a bond by the employer shall not stay the
execution for reinstatement provided herein.

In other words, a dismissed employee whose case was favorably decided by the Labor Arbiter is
entitled to receive wages pending appeal upon reinstatement, which is immediately executory. Unless
there is a restraining order, it is ministerial upon the Labor Arbiter to implement the order of reinstatement
and it is mandatory on the employer to comply therewith.

It has thus been advanced that there is no point in releasing the wages to petitioners since their
dismissal was found to be valid, and to do so would constitute unjust enrichment.
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The social justice principles of labor law outweigh or render inapplicable the civil law doctrine of
unjust enrichment. The constitutional and statutory precepts portray the otherwise unjust situation
as a condition affording full protection to labor.
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BREACH OF PROMISE TO MARRY

BUNAG, JR. vs. COURT OF APPEALS

FACTS:

Defendant-appellant Bunag, Jr. brought plaintiff-appellant to a motel or hotel where they had sexual
intercourse. Later that evening, said defendant-appellant brought plaintiff-appellant to the house of his
grandmother Juana de Leon in Pamplona, Las Piñas, Metro Manila, where they lived together as husband
and wife for 21 days. During which they filed their respective applications for a marriage license with the
Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Bacoor, Cavite.

But after leaving plaintiff, defendant Bunag, Jr. filed an affidavit withdrawing his application for a marriage
license.

Plaintiff contends that defendant abducted her and brought her to a motel where she was raped.

After that outrage on her virginity, plaintiff asked Bunag, Jr. to allow her to go home but the latter would not
consent and stated that he would only let her go after they were married as he intended to marry her, so
much so that she promised not to make any scandal and to marry him. Thereafter, they proceeded to the
house of Juana de Leon, Bunag, Jr.'s grandmother in Pamplona, Las Piñas, Metro Manila. Defendant
Conrado Bunag, Sr., father of Bunag, Jr. arrived and assured plaintiff that the following day which was a
Monday, she and Bunag, Jr. would go to Bacoor, to apply for a marriage license, which they did. They filed
their applications for marriage license and after that plaintiff and defendant Bunag, Jr. returned to the house
of Juana de Leon and lived there as husband and wife from September 8, 1973 to September 29, 1973.

On September 29, 1973 defendant Bunag, Jr. left and never returned, humiliating plaintiff and compelled her
to go back to her parents on October 3, 1973. Plaintiff was ashamed when she went home and could not
sleep and eat because of the deception done against her by defendants-appellants.

Defendant-appellants claim that defendant-appellant Bunag, Jr. and plaintiff-appellant had earlier made plans
to elope and get married and that bitter disagreements with the plaintiff-appellant over money and the threats
made to his life prompted him to break off their plan to get married.

A complaint for damages for alleged breach of promise to marry was filed by herein private
respondent Zenaida B. Cirilo against petitioner Conrado Bunag, Jr. and his father, Conrado Bunag,
Sr.

On a finding, inter alia, that petitioner had forcibly abducted and raped private respondent, the trial
court rendered a decision ordering petitioner Bunag, Jr. to pay private respondent P80,000.00 as
moral damages, P20,000.00 as exemplary damages, P20,000.00 by way of temperate damages, and
P10,000.00 for and as attorney's fees, as well as the costs of suit. Defendant Conrado Bunag, Sr. was
absolved from any and all liability.

Petitioner asserts that since action involves a breach of promise to marry, the trial court erred in
awarding damages.

ISSUE:

WON plaintiff is entitled to the award of damages

RULING:

1. It is true that in this jurisdiction, we adhere to the time-honored rule that an action for breach
of promise to marry has no standing in the civil law, apart from the right to recover money or
property advanced by the plaintiff upon the faith of such promise.
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GENERALLY, therefore, a breach of promise to marry per se is not actionable, EXCEPT where the
plaintiff has actually incurred expenses for the wedding and the necessary incidents thereof.

HOWEVER, the award of moral damages is allowed in cases specified in or analogous to those
provided in Article 2219 of the Civil Code.

Correlatively, under Article 21 of said Code, in relation to paragraph 10 of said Article 2219, any
person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good
customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for moral damages.

Article 21 was adopted to remedy the countless gaps in the statutes which leave so many victims of moral
wrongs helpless even though they have actually suffered material and moral injury, and is intended to
vouchsafe adequate legal remedy for that untold number of moral wrongs which is impossible for human
foresight to specifically provide for in the statutes.

Under the circumstances obtaining in the case at bar, the acts of petitioner in forcibly abducting
private respondent and having carnal knowledge with her against her will, and thereafter promising
to marry her in order to escape criminal liability, only to thereafter renege on such promise after
cohabiting with her for twenty-one days, irremissibly constitute acts contrary to morals and good
customs. These are grossly insensate and reprehensible transgressions which indisputably warrant
and abundantly justify the award of moral and exemplary damages, pursuant to Article 21 in relation
to paragraphs 3 and 10, Article 2219, and Article 2229 and 2234 of Civil Code.

2. Petitioner would, however, belabor the fact that said damages were awarded by the trial court
on the basis of a finding that he is guilty of forcible abduction with rape, despite the prior
dismissal of the complaint therefor filed by private respondent with the Pasay City Fiscal's
Office.

Generally, the basis of civil liability from crime is the fundamental postulate of our law that every person
criminally liable for a felony is also civilly liable. In other words, criminal liability will give rise to civil liability ex
delicto only if the same felonious act or omission results in damage or injury to another and is the direct and
proximate cause thereof. Hence, extinction of the penal action does not carry with it the extinction of
civil liability unless the extinction proceeds from a declaration in a final judgment that the fact from
which the civil might arise did not exist.

In the instant case, the dismissal of the complaint for forcible abduction with rape was by mere
resolution of the fiscal at the preliminary investigation stage. There is no declaration in a final
judgment that the fact from which the civil case might arise did not exist. Consequently, the dismissal
did not in any way affect the right of herein private respondent to institute a civil action arising from the offense
because such preliminary dismissal of the penal action did not carry with it the extinction of the civil action.

The reason most often given for this holding is that the two proceedings involved are not between the same
parties. Furthermore, it has long been emphasized, with continuing validity up to now, that there are different
rules as to the competency of witnesses and the quantum of evidence in criminal and civil proceedings. In a
criminal action, the State must prove its case by evidence which shows the guilt of the accused beyond
reasonable doubt, while in a civil action it is sufficient for the plaintiff to sustain his cause by preponderance
of evidence only. Thus, in Rillon, et al. vs. Rillon, we stressed that it is not now necessary that a criminal
prosecution for rape be first instituted and prosecuted to final judgment before a civil action based on said
offense in favor of the offended woman can likewise be instituted and prosecuted to final judgment.
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GOOD FAITH

TABUENA vs SANDIGANBAYAN

FACTS:

Tabuena and Peralta were convicted of malversation in the total amount of P55 Million of the Manila
International Airport Authority (MIAA) funds during their incumbency as General Manager and Acting
Finance Services Manager, respectively, of MIAA
In obedience to President Marcos verbal instruction and memorandum, Tabuena, with the help of Dabao
and Peralta, caused the release of P55 Million of MIAA funds by means of three (3) withdrawals.
The disbursement of the P55 Million was, as described by Tabuena and Peralta themselves, out of the
ordinary and not based on the normal procedure. Not only were there no vouchers prepared to support the
disbursement, the P55 Million was paid in cold cash. Also, no PNCC receipt for the P55 Million was
presented. Defense witness Francis Monera, then Senior Assistant Vice President and Corporate
Comptroller of PNCC, even affirmed in court that there were no payments made to PNCC by MIAA for the
months of January to June of 1986.
The position of the prosecution was that there were no outstanding obligations in favor of PNCC at the
time of the disbursement of the P55 Million.
On the other hand, the defense of Tabuena and Peralta, in short, was that they acted in good
faith. Tabuena claimed that he was merely complying with the MARCOS Memorandum which ordered him to
forward immediately to the Office of the President P55 Million in cash as partial payment of MIAAs obligations
to PNCC, and that he (Tabuena) was of the belief that MIAA indeed had liabilities to PNCC. Peralta for his
part shared the same belief and so he heeded the request of Tabuena, his superior, for him (Peralta) to help
in the release of P5 Million.
Sandiganbayan rejected their claim of good faith which ultimately led to their conviction.

ISSUE:
WON Tabuena and Peralta can be held criminally liable for malversation

RULING:
NO.
Going now to the defense of good faith, it is settled that this is a valid defense in a prosecution
for malversation for it would negate criminal intent on the part of the accused.
Thus, in the two (2) vintage, but significant malversation cases of US v. Catolico and US v. Elvia, the
Court stressed that:

To constitute a crime, the act must, except in certain crimes made such by statute, be accompanied
by a criminal intent, or by such negligence or indifference to duty or to consequences as, in law, is
equivalent to criminal intent. The maxim is actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea - a crime is not
committed if the mind of the person performing the act complained of is innocent.

The rule was reiterated in People v. Pacana, although this case involved falsification of public documents
and estafa:

Ordinarily, evil intent must unite with an unlawful act for there to be a crime. Actus non facit reum, nisi
mens sit rea. There can be no crime when the criminal mind is wanting.
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American jurisprudence echoes the same principle. It adheres to the view that criminal intent in
embezzlement is not based on technical mistakes as to the legal effect of a transaction honestly entered into,
and there can be no embezzlement if the mind of the person doing the act is innocent or if there is no wrongful
purpose. The accused may thus always introduce evidence to show he acted in good faith and that he had
no intention to convert. And this, to our mind, Tabuena and Peralta had meritoriously shown.
In so far as Tabuena is concerned, with the due presentation in evidence of the MARCOS Memorandum,
we are swayed to give credit to his claim of having caused the disbursement of the P55 Million solely by
reason of such memorandum. From this premise flows the following reasons and/or considerations that would
buttress his innocence of the crime of malversation.
First. Tabuena had no other choice but to make the withdrawals, for that was what the MARCOS
Memorandum required him to do. He could not be faulted if he had to obey and strictly comply with
the presidential directive, and to argue otherwise is something easier said than done.
The MARCOS Memorandum is patently legal (for on its face it directs payment of an outstanding
liability) and that Tabuena acted under the honest belief that the P55 million was a due and
demandable debt and that it was just a portion of a bigger liability to PNCC.
Thus, even if the order is illegal if it is patently legal and the subordinate is not aware of its illegality,
the subordinate is not liable, for then there would only be a mistake of fact committed in good faith.
Second. There is no denying that the disbursement, which Tabuena admitted as out of the ordinary, did
not comply with certain auditing rules and regulations such as those pointed out by the Sandiganbayan but
this deviation was inevitable under the circumstances Tabuena was in. He did not have the luxury of time to
observe all auditing procedures of disbursement considering the fact that the MARCOS Memorandum
enjoined his immediate compliance with the directive that he forward to the Presidents Office the P55 Million
in cash. Be that as it may, Tabuena surely cannot escape responsibility for such omission. But since he was
acting in good faith, his liability should only be administrative or civil in nature, and not criminal.
Fourth. Even assuming that the real and sole purpose behind the MARCOS Memorandum was to siphon-
out public money for the personal benefit of those then in power, still, no criminal liability can be imputed to
Tabuena. There is no showing that Tabuena had anything to do whatsoever with the execution of the
MARCOS Memorandum. Nor is there proof that he profited from the felonious scheme. In short, no
conspiracy was established between Tabuena and the real embezzler/s of the P55 Million.
The principles underlying all that has been said above in exculpation of Tabuena equally apply to Peralta in
relation to the P5 Million for which he is being held accountable, i.e., he acted in good faith when he, upon
the directive of Tabuena, helped facilitate the withdrawal of P5 Million of the P55 Million of the MIAA funds.
This is not a sheer case of blind and misguided obedience, but obedience in good faith of a duly executed
order. Indeed, compliance to a patently lawful order is rectitude far better than contumacious disobedience.
In the case at bench, the order emanated from the Office of the President and bears the signature of the
President himself, the highest official of the land. It carries with it the presumption that it was regularly issued.
And on its face, the memorandum is patently lawful for no law makes the payment of an obligation illegal.
This fact, coupled with the urgent tenor for its execution constrains one to act swiftly without
question. Obedientia est legis essentia.
But what appears to be a more compelling reason for their acquittal is the violation of the
accused’s basic constitutional right to due process. Respect for the Constitution, to borrow once
again Mr. Justice Cruz’s words, is more important than securing a conviction based on a violation of
the rights of the accused.
While going over the records, we were struck by the way the Sandiganbayan actively took part in
the questioning of a defense witness and of the accused themselves. Tabuena and Peralta may not
have raised this as an error, there is nevertheless no impediment for us to consider such matter as additional
basis for a reversal since the settled doctrine is that an appeal throws the whole case open to review, and it
becomes the duty of the appellate court to correct such errors as may be found in the judgment appealed
from whether they are made the subject of assignments of error or not.
Simply consider the volume of questions hurled by the Sandiganbayan. At the taking of the testimony of
Francis Monera, then Senior Assistant Vice President and Corporate Comptroller of PNCC, Atty. Andres
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asked sixteen (16) questions on direct examination. Prosecutor Viernes only asked six (6) questions on
cross-examination in the course of which the court interjected a total of twenty-seven (27) questions (more
than four times Prosecutor Viernes questions and even more than the combined total of direct and cross-
examination questions asked by the counsels). After the defense opted not to conduct any re-direct
examination, the court further asked a total of ten (10) questions.[37] The trend intensified during Tabuenas
turn on the witness stand. Questions from the court after Tabuenas cross-examination totalled sixty-seven
(67).[38] This is more than five times Prosecutor Viernes questions on cross-examination (14), and more than
double the total of direct examination and cross-examination questions which is thirty-one (31) [17 direct
examination questions by Atty. Andres plus 14 cross-examination questions by Prosecutor Viernes]. In
Peraltas case, the Justices, after his cross-examination, propounded a total of forty-one (41) questions.
But more importantly, we note that the questions of the court were in the nature of cross
examinations characteristic of confrontation, probing and insinuation.

A trial judge should not participate in the examination of witnesses as to create the impression that
he is allied with the prosecution.

Time and again this Court has declared that due process requires no less than the cold neutrality of
an impartial judge. Bolstering this requirement, we have added that the judge must not only be
impartial but must also appear to be impartial, to give added assurance to the parties that his decision
will be just. The parties are entitled to no less than this, as a minimum guaranty of due process.

We are well aware of the fear entertained by some that this decision may set a dangerous
precedent in that those guilty of enriching themselves at the expense of the public would be able to
escape criminal liability by the mere expedient of invoking good faith. It must never be forgotten,
however, that we render justice on a case to case basis, always in consideration of the evidence that
is presented. Thus, where the evidence warrants an acquittal, as in this case, we are mandated not
only by the dictates of law but likewise of conscience to grant the same. On the other hand, it does
not follow that all those similarly accused will necessarily be acquitted upon reliance on this case as
a precedent. For the decision in this case to be a precedent, the peculiar circumstances and the
evidence that led to the petitioner’s acquittal must also be present in subsequent cases.
Furthermore, as between a mere apprehension of a dangerous precedent and an actual violation
of constitutionally enshrined rights, it is definitely the latter that merits our immediate attention. For
the most dangerous precedent arises when we allow ourselves to be carried away by such fears so that it
becomes lawful to sacrifice the rights of an accused to calm the fearful. In our eagerness to bring to justice
the malefactors of the Marcos regime, we must not succumb to the temptation to commit the greatest injustice
of visiting the sins of the wrongdoers upon an innocent.
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PREJUDICIAL QUESTION
JARILLO vs PEOPLE

FACTS:

Victoria Jarillo and Rafael Alocillo were married.

Victoria Jarillo thereafter contracted a subsequent marriage with Emmanuel Ebora Santos Uy.

Emmanuel Uy filed against the appellant a civil case for annulment of marriage before the Regional
Trial Court of Manila.

Thereafter, appellant Jarillo was charged with bigamy before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City.

On appeal to the CA, petitioners conviction was affirmed in toto.

In the meantime, the RTC of Makati City, Branch 140, rendered a Decision dated March 28, 2003,
declaring petitioners 1974 and 1975 marriages to Alocillo null and void ab initio on the ground of
Alocillos psychological incapacity. Said decision became final and executory.

In her motion for reconsideration, petitioner invoked said declaration of nullity as a ground for
the reversal of her conviction. However RTC denied the motion for reconsideration and ruled that [t]he
subsequent declaration of nullity of her first marriage on the ground of psychological incapacity, while it
retroacts to the date of the celebration of the marriage insofar as the vinculum between the spouses is
concerned, the said marriage is not without legal consequences, among which is incurring criminal liability
for bigamy.

Hence, the present petition for review on certiorari

ISSUE:

1. WON the pendency of the petition for declaration of nullity of petitioners marriages to Alocillo involved
a prejudicial question.
2. WON CA was correct in affirming the conviction of petitioner for the crime of bigamy despite the
supervening proof that the first two marriages of petitioner to Alocillo had been declared by final
judgment null and void ab initio.

RULING:

It is true that right after the presentation of the prosecution evidence, petitioner moved for suspension of the
proceedings on the ground of the pendency of the petition for declaration of nullity of petitioners marriages
to Alocillo, which, petitioner claimed involved a prejudicial question.
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In her appeal, she also asserted that the petition for declaration of nullity of her marriage to Uy, initiated
by the latter, was a ground for suspension of the proceedings.

1. NO.
In Marbella-Bobis v. Bobis, the Court categorically stated that:

x x x as ruled in Landicho v. Relova, he who contracts a second marriage before the judicial
declaration of nullity of the first marriage assumes the risk of being prosecuted for bigamy, and
in such a case the criminal case may not be suspended on the ground of the pendency
of a civil case for declaration of nullity. x x x

xxxx

x x x The reason is that, without a judicial declaration of its nullity, the first marriage is
presumed to be subsisting. In the case at bar, respondent was for all legal intents and
purposes regarded as a married man at the time he contracted his second marriage with
petitioner. Against this legal backdrop, any decision in the civil action for nullity would not
erase the fact that respondent entered into a second marriage during the subsistence of
a first marriage. Thus, a decision in the civil case is not essential to the determination of
the criminal charge. It is, therefore, not a prejudicial question. x x x[7]
The foregoing ruling had been reiterated in Abunado v. People, where it was held thus:

The subsequent judicial declaration of the nullity of the first marriage was
immaterial because prior to the declaration of nullity, the crime had already been
consummated. Moreover, petitioners assertion would only delay the prosecution of bigamy
cases considering that an accused could simply file a petition to declare his previous marriage
void and invoke the pendency of that action as a prejudicial question in the criminal case. We
cannot allow that.
The outcome of the civil case for annulment of petitioners marriage to [private
complainant] had no bearing upon the determination of petitioners innocence or guilt in
the criminal case for bigamy, because all that is required for the charge of bigamy to
prosper is that the first marriage be subsisting at the time the second marriage is
contracted.
Thus, under the law, a marriage, even one which is void or voidable, shall be deemed
valid until declared otherwise in a judicial proceeding. In this case, even if petitioner eventually
obtained a declaration that his first marriage was void ab initio, the point is, both the first and
the second marriage were subsisting before the first marriage was annulled.[9]

2. NO.

For the very same reasons elucidated in the above-quoted cases, petitioner’s conviction of the crime of

bigamy must be affirmed.

The subsequent judicial declaration of nullity of petitioners two marriages to Alocillo cannot be
considered a valid defense in the crime of bigamy. The moment petitioner contracted a second
marriage without the previous one having been judicially declared null and void, the crime of bigamy
was already consummated because at the time of the celebration of the second marriage, petitioners
marriage to Alocillo, which had not yet been declared null and void by a court of competent
jurisdiction, was deemed valid and subsisting.
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Neither would a judicial declaration of the nullity of petitioners marriage to Uy make any difference.

As held in Tenebro, [s]ince a marriage contracted during the subsistence of a valid marriage is automatically
void, the nullity of this second marriage is not per se an argument for the avoidance of criminal liability for
bigamy. x x x A plain reading of [Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code], therefore, would indicate that the
provision penalizes the mere act of contracting a second or subsequent marriage during the subsistence of
a valid marriage.
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COANGCO vs PALMA

FACTS:

Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr. filed with this Court the instant complaint for disbarment against Atty. Leo

J. Palma, alleging as grounds deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct in office, violation of his oath as

a lawyer and grossly immoral conduct.

Complainant was a client of Angara Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRA) and respondent

was the lawyer assigned to handle his cases. Owing to his growing business concerns, complainant

decided to hire respondent as his personal counsel.

Consequently, respondent’s relationship with complainant’s family became intimate. He

traveled and dined with them abroad. He frequented their house and even tutored complainant’s 22-

year old daughter Maria Luisa Cojuangco (Lisa), then a student of Assumption Convent.

Without the knowledge of complainant’s family, respondent married Lisa in Hongkong.

It was only the next day that respondent informed complainant and assured him that everything is

legal. Complainant was shocked, knowing fully well that respondent is a married man and has three

children.

Upon investigation, complainant found that respondent courted Lisa during their tutoring

sessions.

Complainant filed with the Court of First

Instance, Branch XXVII, Pasay City a petition for declaration of nullity of the marriage between

respondent and Lisa.

CFI declared the marriage null and void ab initio.

Thereafter, complainant filed with this Court the instant complaint for disbarment.

SC referred the case to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for investigation, report and

recommendation.

Meanwhile, the First Division of this Court issued a Resolution setting aside the CFI Decision

in the Civil Case declaring the marriage between respondent and Lisa null and void ab initio;

and remanding the case to the CFI for proper proceeding and determination. To this date, the records

fail to disclose the outcome of this case.


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Respondent in this case posits that the final outcome of Civil Case poses a prejudicial question to the

disbarment proceeding.

ISSUE:

Whether final outcome of Civil Case poses a prejudicial question to the disbarment proceeding.

RULING:

Anent respondents argument that since the validity of his marriage to Lisa has not yet been

determined by the court with finality, the same poses a prejudicial question to the present disbarment

proceeding. Suffice it to say that a subsequent judgment of annulment of marriage has no bearing to

the instant disbarment proceeding.

As we held in In re Almacen, a disbarment case is sui generis for it is neither purely civil nor

purely criminal but is rather an investigation by the court into the conduct of its officers.

Thus, if the acquittal of a lawyer in a criminal action is not determinative of an administrative

case against him, or if an affidavit of withdrawal of a disbarment case does not affect its course, then

the judgment of annulment of respondents marriage does not also exonerate him from a wrongdoing

actually committed.

So long as the quantum of proof --- clear preponderance of evidence --- in disciplinary

proceedings against members of the bar is met, then liability attaches.

AS TO THE DISBARMENT

Undoubtedly, respondents act constitutes grossly immoral conduct, a ground for disbarment

under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court. He exhibited a deplorable lack of that degree

of morality required of him as a member of the Bar. In particular, he made a mockery of marriage which

is a sacred institution demanding respect and dignity. His act of contracting a second marriage is

contrary to honesty, justice, decency and morality.

The circumstances here speak of a clear case of betrayal of trust and abuse of confidence. It

was respondent’s closeness to the complainants family as well as the latters complete trust in him

that made possible his intimate relationship with Lisa. When his concern was supposed to be

complainants legal affairs only, he sneaked at the latters back and courted his daughter. Like the proverbial
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thief in the night, he attacked when nobody was looking. Moreover, he availed of complainants resources by

securing a plane ticket from complainants office in order to marry the latters daughter in Hongkong. He did

this without complainants knowledge. Afterwards, he even had the temerity to assure complainant that

everything is legal. Clearly, respondent had crossed the limits of propriety and decency.

The interdict upon lawyers, as inscribed in Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional

Responsibility, is that they shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
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PIMENTEL vs PIMENTEL

Maria Chrysantine Pimentel y Lacap (private respondent) filed an action for frustrated parricide against
Joselito R. Pimentel (petitioner) before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.

Petitioner received summons to appear before the Regional Trial Court of Antipolo City, Branch 72 (RTC
Antipolo) for the pre-trial and trial of Civil Case (Maria Chrysantine Lorenza L. Pimentel v. Joselito Pimentel)
for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage under Section 36 of the Family Code on the ground of psychological
incapacity.

Petitioner filed an urgent motion to suspend the proceedings before the RTC Quezon City on the ground of
the existence of a prejudicial question. Petitioner asserted that since the relationship between the offender
and the victim is a key element in parricide, the outcome of Civil Case would have a bearing in the criminal
case filed against him before the RTC Quezon City.

ISSUE:

Whether the resolution of the action for annulment of marriage is a prejudicial question that warrants the
suspension of the criminal case for frustrated parricide against petitioner.

RULING:

NO.

1. Civil Case Must be Instituted Before the Criminal Case

Section 7, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure provides:

Section 7. Elements of Prejudicial Question. - The elements of a prejudicial question are:


(a) the previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue
raised in the subsequent criminal action and (b) the resolution of such issue determines whether
or not the criminal action may proceed.

The rule is clear that the civil action must be instituted first before the filing of the criminal action. In
this case, the civil case for annulment was filed after the filing of the criminal case for frustrated
parricide.

As such, the requirement of Section 7, Rule 111 of the 2000 Rules on Criminal Procedure was not met since
the civil action was filed subsequent to the filing of the criminal action.

2. Annulment of Marriage is not a Prejudicial Question in Criminal Case for Parricide


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Further, the resolution of the civil action is not a prejudicial question that would warrant the suspension of the
criminal action.

There is a prejudicial question when a civil action and a criminal action are both pending, and there
exists in the civil action an issue which must be preemptively resolved before the criminal action may
proceed because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be determinative
of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case.

A prejudicial question is defined as:

x x x one that arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical antecedent of the issue
involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal. It is a question based
on a fact distinct and separate from the crime but so intimately connected with it that it
determines the guilt or innocence of the accused, and for it to suspend the criminal action, it
must appear not only that said case involves facts intimately related to those upon which the
criminal prosecution would be based but also that in the resolution of the issue or issues raised
in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be determined.

The relationship between the offender and the victim is a key element in the crime of parricide, which
punishes any person who shall kill his father, mother, or child, whether legitimate or illegitimate, or any of his
ascendants or descendants, or his spouse.

The relationship between the offender and the victim distinguishes the crime of parricide from
murder or homicide. HOWEVER, the issue in the annulment of marriage is not similar or intimately
related to the issue in the criminal case for parricide. Further, the relationship between the offender
and the victim is not determinative of the guilt or innocence of the accused.

The issue in the civil case for annulment of marriage under Article 36 of the Family Code is whether
petitioner is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations. The issue
in parricide is whether the accused killed the victim.

In this case, since petitioner was charged with frustrated parricide, the issue is whether he performed all the
acts of execution which would have killed respondent as a consequence but which, nevertheless, did not
produce it by reason of causes independent of petitioners will.

At the time of the commission of the alleged crime, petitioner and respondent were married. The
subsequent dissolution of their marriage, in case the petition in Civil Case No. 04-7392 is granted, will
have no effect on the alleged crime that was committed at the time of the subsistence of the
marriage. In short, even if the marriage between petitioner and respondent is annulled, petitioner
could still be held criminally liable since at the time of the commission of the alleged crime, he was
still married to respondent.
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REYES vs PEARL BANK SECURITIES

FACTS:

Pearlbank Securities, Inc. (PEARLBANK) is a domestic corporation engaged in the securities


business.

Westmont Investment Corporation (WINCORP) is a domestic corporation operating as an investment


house. Among the services rendered by WINCORP to its clients in the ordinary course of its business as an
investment house is the arranging and brokering of loans. Petitioner Anthony T. Reyes was formerly the Vice
President for Operations and Administration of WINCORP.

PEARLBANK received various letters from persons who invested in WINCORP demanding payment
of their matured investments, which WINCORP failed to pay, threatening legal action.
According to these investors, WINCORP informed them that PEARLBANK was the borrower of their
investments.
WINCORP alleged that it was unable to repay its investors because of the failure of its fund borrowers,
one of which was PEARLBANK, to pay the loans extended to them by WINCORP.

PEARLBANK denied having any outstanding loan obligation with WINCORP or its investors.

PEARLBANK demanded WINCORP a final demand letter asking for a full and accurate accounting
of the identities and investments of the lenders/investors and the alleged loan obligations of PEARLBANK,
with the supporting records and documents including the purported Confirmation Advices.

WINCORP still did not heed the demands of PEARLBANK and failed to produce the loan agreement
documents it allegedly executed with the latter.

PEARLBANK filed two complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against Ong
and several John Does for full and accurate accounting of the investments of WINCORP and of
PEARLBANKs alleged loan obligations to WINCORP and/or its investors.

PEARLBANK, filed a complaint on behalf of PEARLBANK for falsification by private individuals of


commercial and private documents before the DOJ.

The DOJ Secretary Datumanong reversed the 27 June 2003 Resolution of Usec. Gutierrez and
reinstated the 18 June 2001 Resolution of Prosecutor Rances finding probable cause to charge petitioner
and other respondents for the crime of falsification of commercial and private documents.
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WINCORP contends that the proceedings in the criminal case should be suspended pending resolution of
the two SEC Cases which have now been transferred to the jurisdiction of, and are now pending before, the
Regional Trial Courts of Makati on the ground that the these cases constitute a prejudicial question.

ISSUE:

Whether the two cases before the SEC are prejudicial questions which have to be resolved
before the criminal cases may proceed.

RULING:

NO.

Under Rule 111 of the Revised Rules of Court, a criminal action may be suspended upon the pendency of a
prejudicial question in a civil action, to wit:

Sec. 6. Suspension by reason of prejudicial question. - A petition for suspension of the criminal
action based upon the pendency of a prejudicial question in a civil action may be filed in the
office of the prosecutor or the court conducting the preliminary investigation. When the criminal
action has been filed in court for trial, the petition to suspend shall be filed in court for trial, and
shall be filed in the same criminal action at any time before the prosecution rests.

A prejudicial question is defined as one which arises in a case the resolution of which is a logical antecedent
of the issue involved therein, and the cognizance of which pertains to another tribunal.

The prejudicial question must be determinative of the case before the court, but the jurisdiction to try and
resolve the question must be lodged in another court or tribunal. It is a question based on a fact distinct and
separate from the crime, but so intimately connected with it that it determines the guilt or innocence of the
accused; and for it to suspend the criminal action, it must appear not only that said case involves facts
intimately related to those upon which the criminal prosecution would be based, but also that in the resolution
of the issue or issues raised in the civil case, the guilt or innocence of the accused would necessarily be
determined.

It comes into play generally in a situation in which a civil action and a criminal action are both pending
and there exists in the former an issue which must be preemptively resolved before the criminal
action may proceed, because howsoever the issue raised in the civil action is resolved would be
determinative juris et de jure of the guilt or innocence of the accused in the criminal case.

The rationale behind the principle of prejudicial question is to avoid two conflicting decisions.

Based on Section 7 of the same rule, it has two essential elements:

Sec. 7. Elements of prejudicial question. - The elements of a prejudicial question are: (a) the
previously instituted civil action involves an issue similar or intimately related to the issue
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raised in the subsequent criminal action, and (b) the resolution of such issue determines
whether or not the criminal action may proceed.

There is no prejudicial question here.

We note that the Informations filed in the criminal cases charge petitioner and his other co-accused
with falsification of commercial and private documents under paragraph 1 of Article 172, in relation to
paragraph 2 of Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code; and paragraph 2 of Article 172, in relation to paragraph
2 of Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code, in signing and/or issuing the questioned Confirmation Advices,
Special Powers of Attorney and Certifications on behalf of WINCORP, stating therein that PEARLBANK owed
the third parties (lenders and investors).

The principal issue to be resolved in the criminal cases is whether or not petitioner committed
the acts referred to in the Informations, and whether or not these would constitute falsification of
commercial and private documents under the law.

In contrast, the issues to be resolved in SEC Case No. 04-00-6591 are as follows:
(1) whether or not Tankiansee is entitled to the accounting and
disclosure pursuant to Section 74, Tile VII of the Corporation Code of the
Philippines;

(2) whether or not Tankiansee is entitled to be furnished copies of the


records or documents demanded from WINCORP;

(3) whether or not WINCORP is liable to Tankiansee for damages.

SEC Case No. 04-00-6590 involves the following issues:

(1) whether or not PEARLBANK has loan obligations with WINCORP or its
stockholders;

(2) whether or not the subject Confirmation Advices and other related documents
should be declared to be without force and effect or if PEARLBANK is entitled to be
relieved of the legal effects thereof;

(3) whether or not defendants therein are liable for damages to PEARLBANK as a
consequence of this alleged fraudulent scheme.

A cursory reading of the above-mentioned issues would show that, although apparently
arising from the same set of facts, the issues in the criminal and civil cases are clearly different from
one another. Furthermore, the issues in the civil cases are not determinative of the issues in the
criminal cases.
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Petitioner particularly calls attention to the purported prejudicial issue in the civil cases:
whether PEARLBANK has outstanding loan obligations to WINCORP or its
stockholders/investors. Although said issue may be related to those in the criminal cases instituted
against petitioner, we actually find it immaterial to the resolution of the latter.

That PEARLBANK does have outstanding loans with WINCORP or its stockholders/investors is not
an absolute defense in, and would not be determinative of the outcome of, the criminal cases.

Even if the RTC so rules in the civil cases, it would not necessarily mean that these were the
very same loan transactions reflected in the Confirmation Advices, Special Powers of Attorney and
Certifications issued by WINCORP to its stockholders/investors, totally relieving petitioner and his
other co-accused from any criminal liability for falsification.

The questioned documents specifically made it appear that PEARLBANK obtained the loans
during the first four months of the year 2000. Hence, in the criminal cases, it is not enough that it be
established that PEARLBANK has outstanding loans with WINCORP or its stockholders/investors,
but also that these loans were acquired by PEARLBANK as WINCORP made it to appear in the
questioned documents it issued to its stockholders/investors.

This only demonstrates that the resolution of the two civil cases is not juris et de jure determinative of
the innocence or guilt of the petitioner in the criminal cases.